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Quebec City

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Revision as of 15:32, 6 November 2005

Quebec City (French: Québec) is the capital of the province of Quebec in Canada. Located at a commanding position on cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway, Quebec City's Old Town is a United Nations World Heritage Site and the only city north of Mexico with its original city walls.

Understand

Quebec City fashions itself the "national capital" of Quebec. Much of the business here is of the administrative and bureaucratic nature, which would normally make the city quite dull. Fortunately, the city has a remarkable history, as the fortress capital of New France since the 16th century. Although the town's day-to-day life leaves things a little yawn-y at times, the vibrant historical center makes for an incredible visit.

Get in

By plane

The Jean Lesage International Airport (airport code: YQB), in Ancienne-Lorette, is found about 30 minutes from downtown Quebec. It offers regular flights from cities such as Montreal, Toronto and New York, and also provides charters to remote areas of the province such as Kuujjuaq, Gaspé and Baie-Comeau.

By train

A passenger train station is found at the port of Quebec, 450 rue de la Gare du Palais. The Quebec VIA Rail station is a picturesque building, emulating the architectural style of the famed Chateau-Frontenac overlooking the station. The Quebec-Windsor corridor trains run regularly, with stopovers at Montreal and Toronto.

Another train station is located in Ste-Foy, 3255 chemin de la Gare, near the Quebec and Pierre-Laporte bridges.

By bus

The bus station, Terminus Gare du Palais located at rue de la Gare du Palais, is also found at the old port of Quebec, next to the train station. Intercar and Orleans Express offer services province-wide.

Another bus station is located in Ste-Foy, 3001 chemin des Quatre-Bourgeois, which is easily accessible by city transit.

By car

Quebec City is 2.5-3 hours by car from Montreal, taking either Highway 40 or 20 (north and south side of the St. Lawrence, respectively). Both drives are beautiful tours of Quebec's heartland.


Get around

On Foot

Visiting the Old Town, it is best to travel within and around the walls by foot. If your feet fail you, use the funicular to go between the upper and lower parts of the Old Town. 1.50 CDN will get you from near the base of the Breakneck Stairs back up to the front of the Chateau Frontenac. This is well worth it if you have small children or large packages.

By Bike

The Route Verte is a system of provincial bike paths that pass through parks and local attractions. The Corridor des Cheminots is a peaceful trail that runs from the Montmorency Falls to Val-Bélair, which continues on to the Jacques-Cartier park area.

Quebec's urban bike paths are not as well documented as Montreal paths, but are well-marked throughout the city. They are open from April to October.

By Car

Driving in the Old Town can be tricky, since the cobblestone streets were designed for narrow 17th-century horsecarts rather than 21st-century SUVs. There are one way streets abound throughout the Old Town, and parking is difficult to find.

Outside of the Old Town, the use of a car is recommended. However, Quebec drivers may behave erratically on the road as many seem to fall out of practice with proper driving skills after passing the SAAQ driving test. Right turns on red are allowed unless otherwise indicated.

During the months of November through April, snow will definitely affect driving conditions. Snow tires are strongly recommended, as some roads will lack snow removal, sand or salting.

Public Transit

The RTC, Quebec's public transportation system, is a system of buses and express shuttles that cover the whole city. Tickets cost 2.20 CDN each, which will earn you the right to ride one direction with a transfer valid for 2 hours. There are daily passes and monthly passes available.

The Metrobus line is actually two bus lines (800 and 801) that both start in Ste-Foy, head toward the Old Town, and end in Beauport and Charlesbourg respectively. They can run as often as one every 3 minutes during rush hour along Boulevard René-Lévesque/Boulevard Laurier/chemin des Quatre-Bourgeois.

The STL, Lévis's public transit, operates within the south shore of Quebec. There is also a shuttle from St-Augustin to Quebec. These different transit companies all pass through Quebec City, which explains the different colours of buses around town.

See

Road signs are written in French, so be on the lookout for the name of the old town, Vieux Québec. The translation is Old Quebec.

  • Old Town. Surrounded by a stone wall built by both French and British armies. It is now a tourist district with many small boutiques and hundreds of historical and photographic points of interest. Some of the buildings are original structures, while others are built in the same style and architecture as former buildings.
  • Chateau Frontenac. Quebec City icon. Claimed to be the most photographed hotel in North America. http://www.fairmont.com/frontenac/
  • Dufferin Terrace. Boardwalk situated alongside the Chateau Frontenac, and offers a grand view of the St. Lawrence river.
  • Musée de la civilisation, http://www.mcq.org/english/index.html, 418 643-2158.
  • Musée de l'Amérique française.
  • Place-Royale, historical site, http://www.mcq.org/place_royale/aaindex.html.
  • Plains of Abraham Battlefield Park, now used for public events, sports, and leisure activities. 649-6157. http://www.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca/_en/
  • The Citadel, this fortification at the juncture of the Old City wall and Grand Allée holds a changing of the guard ceremony mornings at 10 am, weather permitting.
  • Chute Montmorency. At 83 meters, it stands 30 meters taller than Niagra Falls. Hosts the Loto-Québec Fireworks Competition in the summer. http://www.chutemontmorency.qc.ca
  • Ile d'Orléans. Beautiful biking or driving excursions. http://www.iledorleans.com/

Do

  • Horse-drawn carriages. A one hour tour of the Old City.
  • Ferry to Lévis. Beautiful views of the Chateau Frontenac and the Lower Old Town, and the other side of the river. http://www.traversiers.gouv.qc.ca/trav/quebec/index.asp
  • Festival of New France, first weekend in August. http://www.nouvellefrance.qc.ca
  • Winter Carnival, city-wide, first week of February. A truly spectacular event, the Winter Carnival is a 100-year tradition in Quebec City. Each year, a giant ice palace is built in the Place Jacques-Cartier as the headquarters of the festivities, but there's activities all during the week. The International Ice Sculpture Competition sees teams from around the world build monumental sculptures. There are parades each night in different quarters of the city, and other winter-defying competitions including a canoe race across the St. Lawrence and a group snow bath. The festival's mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval, a sashed snowman, is the city's most famous logo. http://www.carnaval.qc.ca/
  • Festival d'été. Beginning to mid-July, a lot of almost free music shows (you buy a button for $12 or $15 and it gives you access to all the shows, for the 10 days of the festival) in and around the Old Town, with international and local artists (for example in 2004, The Nits, Wyclef Jean, Bérurier Noir). http://www.infofestival.com/
  • Villages Vacances Valcartier. Water park and go-carts open during the summer season. Tubing and ice skating offered in the winter. http://www.valcartier.com/english/index.htm

Buy

Quebec City's Old Town is riddled with shops for tourists. Watch for leather goods and various handmade crafts made by Canada's First Peoples. Check the lower level of Verrerrie La Mailloche by the Breakneck Stairs in the lower part of the Old City. They often have glass blowing demonstrations and will explain the craft to you.

Eat

All restaurants in the Old City will post menus out front in French and in English. Look for the table d'hote specials for a full course fixed price meal. On the cheaper (but very satisfying) side, have a traditional quebecois tourtière (meat pie), or a poutine (fries, gravy, and cheese curds).

Most Quebec City delicatessens and markets offer a large variety of Quebec cheese from farms in the surrounding countryside. Specialty of the region include brie or camembert style cheeses made with raw milk (lait cru), which endows the cheese with superior flavours and textures not usually found in North American cheeses of the same type.

Get Out

  • Visit a sugar shack (cabane a sucre) on the nearby Ile d'Orleans in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. The maple season typically runs from March to April.
  • The Basilica of Saint Anne de Beaupré is an enormous church which is reputed to have healing powers similar to those of Lourdes.
  • Montmorency Falls is a nice spot to visit if you are driving outside the city.

Drink

Quebec city main street for a drink is La Grande Allee situated in the old town. You can find many bars and clubs with many happy quebecers trying to have fun.

  • Le Dagobert on Grande Allee is one of Quebec biggest club and presents many local and international musicians.
  • 'L'Ozone on Grande Allee offers great music and atmosphere with pint at ~$5 CAN.

For a quieter atmosphere, go on St-Jean street where you can find some brewpubs. Try Le Sacrilege for a relaxed atmosphere and good friends.

Stay Safe

This small city does not suffer from high criminality. Do not worry about getting attacked anywhere in town in the middle of the day, unless you get really unlucky. Some petty crimes may happen during night, especially at bar closure, but do not expect high criminality.

External links

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