After years of pining, I recently had the opportunity to explore the picturesque town of Quebec City. I have long drooled over the photos of European style shops and stories of warm people and delicious food and I wasn’t disappointed. Everything I had heard about the city not only lived up to the hype but also far exceeded it. I have a lot to share about this quirky place, but first I want to share the images that encapsulate the experience of visiting for me.
1. Chateau Frontenac – Whether or not you actually stay at this iconic hotel, it is hard to imagine the Quebec skyline without its constant presence. Originally built in the 1890s for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, the hotel is the epitome of Gilded Age extravagance. Today the grand hotel still captures the grandeur of an era I thought was long lost and to visit is to really feel like one of the upper classes. Walking around town I found myself constantly searching for the turrets and gables of the castle, finding comfort whenever they made an appearance. Even though just about every tourist brochure of the region includes this photo, it’s with good reason. It truly is one of the five images I will remember most from my visit.
2. Food – Being in Quebec is a lot like being in Europe, a phenomenon I’ll write about in the next few weeks. Nowhere is this better seen than through the variety of delicious foods offered around town. Mornings start with a café au lait and warm chocolate croissant, not unlike every morning I have ever spent in France. The rest of the day is filled with meats, cheeses and of course desserts that rival the best food stalls of Brussels or Paris, much less North America. The sensibility in Quebec is just different and like our European cousins special attention is paid to the quality of the food and not the quantity. Of course you can find Canadian staples as well, poutine and copious amounts of maple syrup are never far away. It’s this fusion of New and Old Worlds that I think makes Quebec such a wonderful culinary destination and is something I will always remember about it.
3. Old Port – Sure it’s touristy and sure it’s what is expected of a first time visitor to the city, but it’s also a magical part of town. On our second evening we took the 130-year-old funicular (they’ve remodeled, don’t worry) from the boardwalk in front of the Chateau Frontenac down to the Vieux Port, the Old Port. As I walked out into the street I was met with a scene from a travel calendar. I hate the word, but the streets oozed charm and quaintness and the Christmas lights adorning every window, shop front and lamppost took me to the middle of an Alpine village and not a medium sized city in Canada. This same sense of magic is there at all times of day, from window-shopping in the afternoon to enjoying a delicious dinner at a Belgian style bistro in the evening. Like many older sections of towns around the world, the Old Port of Quebec has seen a renaissance in recent years, something I hope only continues to develop what can be best described as the must visit neighborhood in town.
4. Plains of Abraham – Canadian history is not my forte, not in the slightest. But even I knew the importance of a visit to the Plains of Abraham near downtown Quebec. In 1759 on the large grazing land, the French lost in battle to British forces allowing them to take over Quebec and subsequently all of Canada. What surprised me most about this battlefield was its proximity to the city; it’s in the middle of it. For whatever reason I always assumed it to be in a remote, far removed part of the province. Even though the 18th century battle wasn’t a long one, it is nevertheless a somber experience to walk around the large fields. It’s also an important experience for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of Quebec and Canada.
5. Skyline – On my last morning in town, I bundled up and walked through the Old Port to the large ferry waiting at the nearby docks. One of the best kept travel secrets in town is to take the Société des traversiers du Québec ferry from Quebec to Levis on the opposite shore. The ferry ride isn’t about the destination though necessarily, but for the views en route. At only $6.40 round trip per person, this is the best and cheapest way to see the entire skyline of Quebec City as it was meant to be seen, from the water. Long before the railroad came along, Quebec was an incredibly important port city for furs and other goods. The view of the skyline was meant to immediately impress visitors with the city’s wealth and grandeur, both of which survive to this day. It’s not hard to imagine what it must have been like to navigate the Saint Lawrence River all of those years ago and to see this gleaming city on a hill.
These are five photos that really define Quebec City for me. Have you been? What images first come to mind for you?
19 thoughts on “Quebec City in Five Photos”
Oh it looks absolutely lovely!
I have always wanted to visit Quebec (your description of the food has my mouth watering already!) This is really strange to say, but I live in Minnesota (A state right next to Canada) and I have really only been to Canada twice, very briefly (once at Niagara Falls and once to drive over the border by Vancouver to pick someone up at the airport.) I might have to try to rectify this situation soon. Thanks for the great tip about the ferry!
You definitely need to head north! I’ve explored a lot of the country lately and it’s all so great. As you can tell, I especially loved my time in Quebec. :)
I remember being blown away when I went to Quebec City. I was totally not expecting to see a city like that in North America. We made a couple of close friends there as well, as the local Quebecois are so open, friendly and hospitable. Thanks for reminding me of these great memories!
Lovely pictures! We went to Quebec when I was in 6th grade and I still remember pulling into the courtyard of the Chateau Frontenac. It’s almost time for Carnival!
I’m so glad you liked my provincial capital! Quebec City is indeed quite incredible, and also super friendly, which only makes it more lovely!
I feel in love with it, truly.
I’ve been to Montreal several times but never to Quebec City. One of these days …
I can definitely feel Europe by looking at your pictures of Quebec City! I’ve not had the fortune to visit yet but someday I will and all of the pictures you included are why.
Thanks Debbie that means a lot! I have tons more to share too, so stay tuned :)
You know, before reading this post, I knew NOTHING of Quebec City other than it’s a city…in Quebec. I’ll only have a handful of days in Quebec next year, so I’ll be spending them in Montreal, but this looks so pretty! The food…I’m liking how European it sounds, and the old town looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing :)
You’re welcome Tom and you should definitely put QC on your travel itinerary. It’s an easy train ride from Montreal and well worth a visit. VERY different from Montreal.
Looks great! Canada is still one of the places I need to visit. Hopefully in a couple of years.
The Chateau Frontenac is definitely the first image that comes to mind when I think of Quebec city. It’s supposedly the most photographed hotel in the world. The second is probably the horse drawn carriages at the city walls. Nice photos.
Great Post! Gotta love Poutine! Mmmmm… makes me want to fly home and order a Poutine now. Just can’t find a good one here in China.
Thanks for this one!
Nice pictures, although for me Limoilou and St-Roch are the parts of the city which represent Quebec best: more authentic, no tourists and you can still see the towers of the château.
One thing, in the comment for the last picture, you wrote “the entire skyline of Montreal as it was meant to be seen”. It’s Quebec obviously.
Thanks for visiting!
Thanks and sorry about that. The glories of being a one-man editing machine LOL
Loved your article and photos. We are planning a trip to Quebec City in the fall of 2013 so have been online browsing for ideas of what to see. (I love taking pictures) I will be looking forward to any further posts you make about this lovely city.
o my GOD beautiful,historical and classical .i a sure cuisine would also be great. i am going to visit it as soon as possible.
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