Quebec: Main Sights
The crown jewel of French Canada
Quebec’s unique top sights have can be easily reached by foot when you're in towns or cities such as Quebec City or Montreal but outside the cities destinations are best reached by driving, the train or flying. Travellers will instantly pick up the Europeam feel of Quebec as you will enjoy one of Canada's oldest provinces with charming cobblestone streets, museums, local eateries, a lively nightlife, shopping centres, and galleries. Quebec has many main sights certain to please even the most discerning visitor.
The fortifications of Quebec City are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quebec's capital remains the only North American city still fortified by its original city walls. Erected under both the French and English regimes in order to safeguard the city, the Fortifications of Québec bear witness to the evolution of Québec's defence system from the 17th to the 19th century. Today, the numerous bastions, gates, and defence works still encircle the old city. Also to be seen in Quebec City are the Parliament Building, Quebec Citadel, City Armoury, and the legendary Plaines d'Abraham.
- Place Royal is always of special interest as it is the birthplace of French America and welcomes many visitors each year. Stroll the charming European style cobblestone streets. In Montreal visitors should go to Old Montreal and the Old Port. Old Montreal is one of the most charming city spaces in North America. The European character of this area boasts cobblestone streets, French cafes, wonderfully preserved 17th and 18th century architecture and the landscape of the St. Lawrence River. Once a fortified city, the old town is now a quaint and relaxing historical area, ideal for exploring. The Old Port was once one of the most important trading ports in North America but now is an excellent recreation and entertainment area. Here you will find a massive open air skating rink, Imax cinema and Science and Technology Centre.
For excellent views of the city head to the top of the clock tower. In Old Montreal you will find many beautiful buildings including: Place Jacques-Cartier, the former French governor's residence; Château Ramezay; the city's oldest church, Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecour; and Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History. Outside the cities visitors can enjoy Quebec's historic sites such as Forges du Saint-Maurice and Old Trois-Rivieres, Ile des Moulins, Grose Ile and Banc-de-Peche-de-Paspebiac and Iles-de-la-Madeleine, which are two historic sites in eastern Quebec and reminders of the importance of fishing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Fort Temiscamingue, an old trading post and gold mine and the Mackenzie King Estate are also nice to visit.
Museums and Arts
Quebec has over 400 museums; the most concentrated amount are found in Montreal. Montreal's highlights include the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, Point-a-Calliere Museum, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (over 140 years old, and has one of North America's finest encyclopaedic collections of Canadian art, contemporary art, Inuit and Amerindian Art, European Masters as well as prints, drawings and decorative arts (housing now the former Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts) on display), the Place des Arts, Canadian Centre for Architecture and The Just For Laughs Museum (A Montreal arts staple, offers the International Comedy Hall of Fame and Immortals of Comedy and hundreds of film clips from your favorite comedians).
Quebec City's highlights include the Quebec City's Museum of Civilization, Quebec City's Museum of French Americans (The oldest museum in Canada serves to trace the history and development of French settlement throughout North America). Located near the Chateau Frontenac hotel in a building dating from 1663, the museum reflects its European religious and scientific routes) and the Erico Chocolate Economuseum. In Quebec you will also find the Musee de La Mer, the Musee du Golf du Quebec, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, the The Gilles Villeneuve Museum and the Missiquoi Museum found in Stanbridge East. Visit the township where thousands of immigrants from the United States came after the American Revolution.
Gardens and National Parks in Quebec
Quebec is known for its natural beauty and there are many parks and gardens devoted to preserving the province. The province of Quebec has 3 National Parks, 22 natural parks and 16 wildlife preserves. There are over 100 000 lakes and countless rivers. In Montreal you will find the Montréal Botanical Garden and the Biodome with its fascinating Insectarium. Originally constructed for the Olympics, Quebec's Biodome is now home to four ecosystems representing the Americas: Tropical Forest, temperate Laurentian Forest, St Lawrence Marine, and the Polar Arctic and Antarctica.
The Lachine Canal is also the home of a 14 km bicycle and pedestrian pathway with many picnic areas and green spaces. You can rent both bikes and boats here for a relaxing afternoon. Those looking for more adventure can try white water rafting. Jean Drapeau Park is also an escape from the bustle of the city found on the two islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. The park was the site for Expo '67, and is now used by pedestrians and visitors. Find garden paths and many recreational areas to enjoy. In Quebec City Montmorency Falls Park is a breathtaking water fall that's 83 metres high, 27 metres higher than Niagara Falls.
A cable car takes visitors to the top for a hike to viewing belvederes and the suspension bridge over the cascade at the top of the ridge. In the summer you can walk across one of two suspension bridges or through miles of parkland trails. In Quebec City you will also find the Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site commemorating the period in 1535-1536 when Jacques Cartier and his shipmates wintered near the Iroquoian village of Stadacona.
This National Historic Site also recalls the establishment of the first residence of the Jesuit missionaries in Québec, in 1625-1626. In the north of Quebec you will find that caribou and other game roam the tundra. In the Gaspésie region, see the Rocher Percé ('the pierced rock': a massive, arched sandstone rock rising from the Atlantic) and visit the Gaspésie Provincial Park, a park that protects herds of caribou in a beautiful landscape of woods, lakes and streams. The Duplessis region in Quebec is the site of some of the earliest landfalls in the New World. Remains left by these Viking sailors can be seen in the museum at Sept-Îles. The bizarre geological formations of nearby Mingan Archipelago are best explored by boat. Finally, visitors to Quebec can discover miles of white sandy beaches and a host of unspoilt fishing villages in the Magdalen Islands, 215km east of the Gaspé Peninsula in the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Amusement and Theme Parks in Quebec
Quebec has many amusement and theme parks to keep visitors happy and busy. The best theme parks are La Ronde (Six Flags just outside Montreal), Récréathèque and Village du Pere Noel (Santa's Village). Waterparks include Super Aqua Club and Valcartier Village. Zoos in Quebec are also very popular, the best are Jardin Zoologique/Aquarium du Quebec, Montréal Biodôme, Parc Safari, and Zoo de St-Félicien.
Religion has and still does play a central role in Quebec. Roman Catholicism is the religion of the majority and in Quebec City you will find the the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Québec and the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Shrine. The Basilica was first built in 1633 by Samuel de Champlain. It was rebuilt three times after fire and destruction, always on the same site. Rebuilt, in 1647, as Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, after the fire of 1640, it became North America's first parish church and was solemnly consecrated by Mgr de Laval in 1666. The Shrine to Sainte Anne receives over 100 000 pilgrims each year. In Montreal head to the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral or St. Joseph's Oratory, a great basilica with a giant copper dome built in honor of St. Joseph, patron saint of Canada.
The massive edifice sits high on the slopes of Mount Royale in Quebec. Pilgrims come from all over North America to pray for healing at Blessed André's shrine. The Notre-Dame-du-Cap Sanctuary near Trois-Rivières is another important shrine. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it has been a popular pilgrimage site for more than 100 years; the original chapel built in 1714 is still standing. Throughout Quebec you will find many lovely churches and religious buildings such as the Cuthbert Chapel in Berthierville and the Indian Chapel in Tadoussac. Outside the cities monasteries and abbeys can also be visited, two of these are the Benedictine Abbey at Saint-Benoît-du-Lac on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, and the Cistercian Abbey of Oka, on Lac des Deux-Montagnes.
Casinos In Quebec are a very popular form of entertainment. The Montreal Casino was built for the Expo '67 and is an amazing sight. This multi level casino is a constant source of entertainment in the city. There are two more casinos in Quebec, found in Charlevoix and Lac-Leamy.
Cruises and Ferries
The province of Quebec is blessed when it comes to waterways. Understandably there are many cruises available along the St. Lawrence River which are very popular. Cruises sail to other Canadian destinations as well as to New England (Boston and New York) and abroad to Scandinavia. Montreal and Quebec City serve as arrival and departure points. Visitors can also catch a daily ferry during the summer from Cap-aux-Meules to Prince Edward Island. The Labrador Marine runs ferries as well (no service between January and April) from Newfoundland to Blanc-Sablon, Que. Whale watching cruises and boat trips along the St. Lawrence River can be arranged. If you're in Montreal try taking the regular ferry service (from May to October) to either Longueuil and Parc Jean-Drapeau. The journey to Longueuil takes 30 minutes and only 15 minutes to Parc Jean-Drapeau. Advanced reservations are not neccessary.