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Venture to Québec City and you’ll encounter a cosmopolitan destination unlike anywhere else on the planet. Oozing with Old World charm and French-Canadian savoir-faire, Québec City is a well-preserved, 17th-century town and the capital of Québec Province. Drenched in history, it’s a sophisticated playground with a vibrant culture and incredible gastronomy – all dramatically perched on a 200-foot cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Established as the capital of New France in 1608, Québec City is the core of the French-speaking population in Canada.
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Start where Québec City did: in the fortified colonial core of Vieux-Québec (Old Québec), the walled portion of the city on top of the hill. Winding staircases connect Old Town with the nearby neighborhoods of Basse-Ville (Lower Town) and Haute-Ville (Upper Town). Everything is easy to explore on foot. Stroll narrow cobblestone streets lined with chic bistros and artsy boutiques. Cozy restaurants beckon you in wintertime with crackling fireplaces and hot poutine.
Snap a selfie at Place-Royale, a picture-perfect square with a giant trompe-l’oeil mural – it marks the spot where French explorer Samuel de Champlain first landed in 1608. At night, Old Québec comes alive under the shadow of Chateau Frontenac with street musicians, jugglers, and cartoon artists.
Vieux-Québec is the only fortified city north of Mexico on the continent, and the entire neighborhood is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander the soaring ramparts where cannons still stand guard, aimed out towards the river. On Rue St. Louis, keep an eye out for a cannonball embedded in a tree trunk – it’s been there since 1759. Tour the largest fort in North America at La Citadelle. Visit Battlefields Park, a lush clifftop oasis where France and England fought for (and determined) the fate of the continent. Explore interactive cultural exhibits at the wow-worthy Musée de la Civilisation. Hop on a sightseeing ferry in the St. Lawrence River and see the fortress city from a whole new perspective.
Magical seasonal festivals add to Québec City’s allure. With snow rafting and soapbox racing, the Québec Winter Carnival is one of the largest in the world. Festibière de Québec celebrates craft beer culture every summer, and the Festival International de Jazz de Québec lights up the city every fall.
French roots and New World spirit have fused together in Québec City to create a destination that is truly unique. Discover the past, embrace the present, and connect with the dynamic cultural spirit of this French-Canadian treasure.