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Quebec, Quebec, Canada

Exploring Quebec City

A walk through Canada's most history-rich city

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Difficulty: Leicht
Length: 2.4 miles / 3.9 km
Duration: Halber Tag
Übersicht: Exploring Québec City's history can be an all-consuming pastime, and a rewarding one. The walk outlined below takes you through much of it, but sticking slavishly to a route would be a mistake. The Old City is full of inviting little detours and alleyways. Don't bother resisting them.

Exploring La Citadelle; leisurely strolling along the Terrasse Dufferin; walking along rue du Petit-Champlain in the Old City.

Starting Point:
The Wolfe Monument, on the far western side of the Plains of Abraham outside the walls of the city.

Ending Point:
On rue du Petit-Champlain, in the Lower Town section of the Old City.

Best Time to Go:
If you're looking to avoid crowds, on a weekday morning. In summer, the rue du Petit-Champlain can get so crowded it can literally be hard to walk.

Points of Interest


Wolfe Monument

This tall monument marks the place where the British general James Wolfe died in 1759. Wolfe landed his troops about 3 km (2 mi) from the city's walls; 4,500 English soldiers scaled the cliff and began fighting on the Plains of Abraham. Wolfe was mortally wounded in battle and was carried behind the lines to this spot.

Address: Rue de Bernières and av. Wolfe-Montcalm

Plains of Abraham

This park, named after the river pilot Abraham Martin, is the site of the famous 1759 battle that decided New France's fate. People cross-country ski here in winter and in-line skate in summer. At the Discovery Pavilion of the Plains of Abraham, check out the multimedia display, "Odyssey: A Journey Through History on the Plains of Abraham," which depicts 400 years of Canada's history.

Discovery Pavilion of the Plains of Abraham
Address: 835 av. Wilfrid-Laurier, Level 0 (next to Drill Hall)
Phone: 418-648–4071
Admission: $8 for 1-day pass, bus tour included Hours: June 24–Labor Day, daily 8:30–5:30; day after Labor Day–June 23, weekdays 8:30–5, Sat. 9–5, Sun. 10–5.

Grande Allée

One of the city's oldest streets, Grande Allée was the route people took from outlying areas to sell their furs in town. In the 19th century the wealthy built neo-Gothic and Queen Anne–style mansions here; they now house trendy cafés, clubs, and restaurants. The street actually has four names: inside the city walls it's rue St-Louis; outside the walls, Grande Allée; farther west, chemin St-Louis; and farther still, boulevard Laurier

La Citadelle

Built at the city's highest point, on Cap Diamant, the Citadelle is the largest fortified base in North America still occupied by troops. The 25-building fortress was intended to protect the port, prevent the enemy from taking up a position on the Plains of Abraham, and provide a refuge in case of an attack. Having inherited incomplete fortifications, the British completed the Citadelle to protect themselves against French retaliations. By the time the Citadelle was finished in 1832, the attacks against Québec City had ended.

Since 1920 the Citadelle has served as a base for Canada's most storied French-speaking military formation, the Royal 22e Régiment (Royal 22nd Regiment), affectionately known across Canada as the Van Doos, from the French "vingt-deux" (twenty-two). Firearms, uniforms, and decorations from the 17th century are displayed in the Musée Royal 22e Régiment (Royal 22nd Regiment Museum) in the former powder magazine, built in 1750. If weather permits, you can watch the changing of the guard, a ceremony in which troops parade before the Citadelle in red coats and black fur hats, and a band plays. The regiment's mascot, a well-behaved goat, also watches the activity. The queen's representative in Canada, the governor-general, has a residence in the Citadelle, which is sometimes open for tours in summer.

Address: 1 côte de la Citadelle
Phone: 418-694–2815
Admissions: $10
Hours: Apr., daily 10–4; May and June, daily 9–5; July–Labor Day, daily 9–6; Sept., daily 9–4; Oct., daily 10–3; Nov.–Mar., bilingual tour at 1:30 daily. Changing of the guard June 24–Labor Day, daily at 10AM. Retreat ceremony July and Aug., Fri.–Sun. at 7PM.

Couvent des Ursulines (Ursuline Convent)

Adolesecnt girls still study at the Ursuline convent on rue Donnacona, as they have since 1639 when the place was founded by French nun Marie de l'Incarnation and laywoman Madame de la Peltrie. The convent has many of its original walls intact and houses a little chapel and a museum.

The Chapelle des Ursulines (Ursuline Chapel) is where French general Louis-Joseph Montcalm was buried after he died in the 1759 battle that decided the fate of New France. In September 2001 Montcalm's remains were transferred to rest with those of his soldiers at the Hôpital Général de Québec's cemetery, at 260 boulevard Langelier. The exterior of the Ursuline Chapel was rebuilt in 1902, but the interior contains the original chapel, which took sculptor Pierre-Noël Levasseur from 1726 to 1736 to complete. The votive lamp was lighted in 1717, and has never been extinguished.

Address: 2 rue du Parloir
Admission: Free
Hours: Chapel May–Oct., Tues.–Sat. 10–11:30 and 1:30–4:30)

The Musée des Ursulines was once the residence of Madame de la Peltrie. The museum provides an informative perspective on 120 years of the Ursulines' life under the French regime, from 1639 to 1759. It took an Ursuline nun nine years of training to attain the level of a professional embroiderer; the museum contains magnificent pieces of ornate embroidery, such as altar frontals with gold and silver threads intertwined with semiprecious jewels.

Address: 12 rue Donnacona
Phone: 418-694–0694
Admission: $6
Hours: Museum May–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 10–noon and 1–5, Sun. 1–5; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Sun. 1–4:30

In the lobby of the museum is the Centre Marie-de-l'Incarnation, a center with an exhibit and books for sale on the life of the Ursulines' first superior, who came from France and cofounded the convent.

Address: 10 rue Donnacona
Phone: 418-694–0413
Hours: Feb –Nov., Mon. 10–11:30, Tues.–Sat. 10–11:30 and 1:30–4:30, Sun. 1:30–4:30; closed Dec.; open by request only Jan

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Québec City's most celebrated landmark, this imposing turreted castle with a copper roof stands on the site of what was the administrative and military headquarters of New France. It owes its name to the Comte de Frontenac, governor of the French colony between 1672 and 1698. Considering the magnificence of the château's location overlooking the St. Lawrence River, you can see why Frontenac said, "For me, there is no site more beautiful nor more grandiose than that of Québec City."

Samuel de Champlain was responsible for Château St-Louis, the first structure to appear on the site of the Frontenac; it was built between 1620 and 1624 as a residence for colonial governors. In 1784 Château Haldimand was constructed here, but it was demolished in 1892 to make way for Château Frontenac, built as a hotel a year later. The Frontenac was remarkably luxurious at that time: guest rooms contained fireplaces, bathrooms, and marble fixtures, and a special commissioner purchased antiques for the establishment.
The hotel was designed by New York architect Bruce Price, who also worked on Québec City's Gare du Palais (rail station) and other Canadian landmarks. The addition of a 20-story central tower in 1925 completed the hotel. It has accumulated a star-studded guest roster, including Queen Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan as well as Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who met here in 1943 and 1944 for two wartime conferences. Guides dressed in 19th-century-style costumes conduct tours of the luxurious interior.

Address: 1 rue des Carrières
Phone: 418-691–2166
Admission: Tours $8.50
Hours: Tours May–mid-Oct., daily 10–6 on the hr; mid-Oct.–Apr., weekends noon–5 or on demand. Reservations essential.

Terrasse Dufferin

This wide boardwalk with an intricate wrought-iron guardrail has a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River, the town of Lévis on the opposite shore, Île d'Orléans, and the Laurentian Mountains. It was named for Lord Dufferin, governor of Canada between 1872 and 1878, who had this walkway constructed in 1878. The château was home to the governors from 1626 to 1834, when it was destroyed by fire, and Fort St-Louis. There are 90-minute tours of the fortifications that leave from here. The Promenade des Gouverneurs begins at the boardwalk's western end; the path skirts the cliff and leads up to Québec's highest point, Cap Diamant, and also to the Citadelle.

Maison Louis-Jolliet

Louis Jolliet, the first European to see the Mississippi River, and his fellow explorers used this 1683 house as a base for westward journeys. Today it's the lower station of the funicular. A monument commemorating Louis Jolliet's 1672 trip to the Mississippi stands in the park next to the house. The Escalier Casse-Cou is at the north side of the house.

Address: 16 rue du Petit-Champlain

Place Royale

The houses that encircle this cobblestone square, with steep Normandy-style roofs, dormer windows, and chimneys, were once the homes of wealthy merchants. Until 1686 the area was called Place du Marché, but its name changed when a bust of Louis XIV was placed at its center. During the late 1600s and early 1700s, when Place Royale was continually under threat of British attack, the colonists moved progressively higher to safer quarters atop the cliff in Upper Town. After the French colony fell to British rule in 1759, Place Royale flourished again with shipbuilding, logging, fishing, and fur trading. The Fresque des Québecois, a 4,665-square-foot trompe-l'oeil mural depicting 400 years of Québec's history is to the east of the square, at the corner of rue Notre-Dame and côte de la Montagne.

An information center, the Centre d'Interprétation de Place Royale includes exhibits and a Discovery Hall with a replica of a 19th-century home, where children can try on period costumes. A clever multimedia presentation, good for kids, offers a brief history of Québec. Admission is C$4, but it's free on Tuesday from November to May. It's open daily 9:30–5 from June 24 to early September; the rest of the year it's open Tuesday–Sunday 10–5.

Address: 27 rue Notre-Dame
Phone: 418/646–3167

Rue du Petit-Champlain

The oldest street in the city was once the main street of a harbor village, with trading posts and the homes of rich merchants. Today it has pleasant boutiques and cafés, although on summer days the street is packed with tourists. Natural-fiber weaving, Inuit carvings, hand-painted silks, and enameled copper crafts are some of the local specialties that are good buys here.
Die Bilder in diesem Guide wurden aufgenommen von: BuzBuzzer/istock, bdnegin/istock, marsalis3020m, EasyBuy4u/istock, veltmana

© 2010 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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