- -- Quebec City: so near, so friendly, so Europe
"I took my kids to Europe last weekend". That's how it felt when we visited Quebec City during winter Carnival, and Quebec City is a wonderful place to visit in summer, too.
Quebec City: Background
Quebec City is in the French-speaking province of Quebec, in Canada; but don't worry, everyone in the tourist trade speaks "Anglais" too. The "Quebecois" are warm, vivacious, and proud of their culture. (If you've seen Cirque de Soleil, you've seen some sample creativity.)
Quebec City -- about two hours' drive from Montreal -- is so rich in history, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quebec City was founded in 1608 and was the center of New France, a vast area that extended down to Louisiana ( - see Quebec City history). One of the decisive battles between Britain and France took place at in 1759 in Quebec City, on the Plains of Abraham. Québec City's historic area is also one of the few walled cities in North America.
Must-Sees for Visitors
-Wander the "old town" areas, with charming historic streets and restaurants with names like Le Cochon Dingue ("The Crazy Pig", a good place for hot chocolate.)
-Visit the Plains of Abraham: though of great historic import, and a National Battlefield, this wide stretch of land right in the city is also where people play: it's the site of Quebec Carnival in winter, and summertime concerts.
- Museum of Civilization: families should be sure to visit this imaginative and interactive (and bilingual) museum designed to keep kids' riveted. For instance, one exhibit took a comprehensive look at dragons: from myths to paleontology to fantasy fiction. Admission cost is modest, and free for kids under 12.
VivaCité Trail: a special path (with signs and maps) leads walkers through Old Quebec, passing historical sites, museums, parks, and shopping ops.
Funicular: get a bird's-eye view, as you ride up the hill from one historic part of the town to another.
Quebec City Summer Festival: annual outdoors arts festival, with music, street art, events for every taste.
Place-Royale Interpretion Center: historic location; interactive exhibitions, and hands-on room where families don costumes and travel back in time.
Also in Old Quebec: be sure to sample a Beavertails -- a large flat donut with sweet toppings. (Look for Queues de Castor, Vieux Quebec.)
If You're Visiting in Winter...
- Time your visit with the very fun and family-friendly Quebec Carnival, held for two weeks in late Jan./early February, with night parades, ice slides, snow rafting, concerts, snow sculptures, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice-skating and more.
- Ride the giant ice slide by the historic Chateau Frontenac (- undergoing renovation; check for updates.)
- combine a visit to Quebec City with a ski outing to nearby Mont-Sainte-Anne.