Old world meets new in a city enriched by a château, arts, 400-plus years of history and a dazzling culinary culture.
Suggested tweet: Québec City in 48 hours: a trip full of history, arts plus fab food and wine http://ow.ly/HJk9e #explorecanada
My first trip to Québec City was a summer adventure. I fell in love with the 19th-century stone houses, the harpist accompanying my morning bol de café au lait and the sense of history unfolding beneath my feet. The Le Festival d’été de Québecwas on, making the whole city a dazzling musical stage.
Québec City’s beguiling charm captured New York Times editors this year, who named it as one of the 52 Places to Go in 2015. So, let’s take a trip into the heart of Canada’s Francophone culture.
In the Old Québec district, old world meets new. Cannons loom from the ramparts of North America’s only remaining fortified city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start in Upper Town with a tour of the famed Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, perched on a cliff above the St. Lawrence River. Outside, stroll the Terrasse Dufferin boardwalk for panoramic views and to get a feel for the city’s storied military history.
Look up at La Citadelle, a star-shaped fortress set high on Cap Diamant. Built by the British, it’s now the largest fortified base still in active service in North America. Tour the site and catch the daily Changing of the Guard, where troops in scarlet uniforms and tall bearskin hats march in lockstep from June to September.
Hungry? The sidewalk café culture and the bistro cuisine here are thrilling. Pair Quebec-made cheese with fine French wines. Or order a La Barberie microbrew and plate of moules frites. Locals also love the sweet or savoury crêpes at popular Crêperie-bistro Le Billig.
Afterward, gaze upon the vivid canvases and sculptures at Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. Don’t miss the gallery devoted to renowned Quebec artists like Jean-Paul Riopelle. Later, you can visit a specialty maple-syrup shop (yes, the stuff is stored like gold in Quebec) and one-of-a-kind boutiques showcasing talented Quebec artisans.
As the stars come out, consider a splurge at Panache restaurant, tucked in a historic building at the entrance of Old Québec. Along with your exquisite main—such as half-cooked foie gras, lobster rolls or venison in a sweetberry sauce—enjoy complimentary amuse-bouche (hors d’oeuvres)such as fish with edible flowers or oyster with cucumber dill sauce. Dine on the terrasse (patio) for great views of the port.
Linger over breakfast before taking the stairs or funicular, connecting Upper Town to Lower Town. Explore Quartier Petit Champlain, an irresistible, vibrant village atmosphere of boutiques, art galleries and cafés.Stroll the some of the oldest streets in North America, then visit Rue Saint-Paul for a bit of antique shopping. Try the wonderful farmers’ market at the Old Port for homegrown picnic goodies. Save an hour or two for the Musée de la Civilisation, evoking 400 years of Quebec history and culture.
A trip outside the stone walls of Old Québec is a must. Dine at chic and cozy IX pour Bistro, or Le Clocher Penché (think local, fresh and fabulous), tucked in an old bank building in the trendy Saint-Roch neighborhood. Foodies may also want to take the delightful, three-hour St Roch food tour. Afterward, visit the bohemian Saint-Jean Baptistedistrict, brimming with boutiques, gourmet food stores, a chocolate museum, galleries and North America’s biggest toy store.
Québec City transcends time, even if you only have 48 hours.
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