Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tourist Towns - Québec

Québec city a.ka. la belle ville de Québec

Yesterday we had a look at Chicago through the eyes of Kendra Thornton. Kendra suggested we write up a post comparing out two cities.
Chicago is her "town".
Today, it is my turn to give you a quick glance at Québec city.... my "town".

Living on the edge of Quebec city for 25 years has provided me with ample opportunity to explore and discover its many hidden gems. It has also resulted in visits from friends and family hoping to have a chance to discover the history, architecture and culture of a city that dates back more than 400 years.
Lower Town (click image to go to source

So, as you can imagine, it has been necessary to design an itinerary of sorts. This itinerary needed to ensure that weekend guests could enjoy a wide array of experiences stretching from Québec cuisine to an appreciation of homes built in the architectural style typical of New France.  And when people show an interest in speaking French we try to provide them with a few commonly used phrases to help them navigate the language. That said, Québec city is a tourist town and it is not hard to find somebody that you can communicate with while visiting.

So, what does the itinerary look like?  
Here are just a few of the areas that we consider a must-see while visiting Québec city.

Vieux Québec : Well this is obvious to those of you that know the city. Visitors could spend the entire weekend just walking around the old part of Québec city, known as Vieux Québec. This area is divided into upper and lower towns.

The upper town is the walled part of the city and home to the famous Château Frontenac and the Dufferin Terrace.  

The lower town is home to Place Royale, and la rue du Petit-Champlain 
and an assortment of fabulous dining experiences, cute shops, and homes. 
Yes, people actually do live in this part of the city.
Rue du Petit Champlain (click image to go to source)

The upper and lower towns are linked by stairs for those that enjoy a good climb, otherwise you can catch a ride up the edge of the cliff by using the funiculaire.  The funiculaire also provides an interesting view over the roof tops of the lower town and the old port. 
Place Royale (click image to go to source)
There are some fabulous places to eat in and around the old city (both upper and lower towns) but of course choice often depends on the budget of the traveller. I usually recommend that people save their money at lunch and enjoy a lovely home-made soup and sandwich served on fresh baguette at the Café-Boulangerie Paillard in the upper town. 

When it comes to supper in the old city, well the list gets really long. There are fabulous choices of restaurants and one of our newest favourites is Chez Boulay. This is a great place to go and treat yourself to Québec cuisine.  Of course the choices of restaurants in the old city is extensive and depending on taste and budget I recommend guests check out the various suggestions provided on Urban Spoon.

Rue Saint-Paul and the Old Port : A quick walk over from Place Royale visitors find themselves immersed in art galleries, antique stores and more restaurants that line Rue Saint-Paul.   

We often start our tour here on Sunday morning with a cheap breakfast at the Buffet de l’Antiquire.  Breakfasts are far from fancy but visitors seem to enjoy the lively atmosphere that this well-known diner provides.  After breakfast we continue our walk across the street to the farmer’s market which is located on the edge of the old port next to the train station. The market is a great place to sample local foods, ciders and cheeses.
Rue Saint Paul (click image to go to source)

You can also rent bikes at the market and bike the 3 km. path that runs through the port and along the edge of the Saint Lawrence next to Boulevard Champlain. Quebec city has extensive bike paths for cyclists to enjoy whether you want to be in the city or head out to some of the various attractions on the edge of the city. 

Nouvo Saint Roch : Finally, we like to take our guests down to visit an area of the city that is not always on the traditional tourist itinerary for visitors to Quebec.  This area has undergone extensive changes in the last 5 years. 

Rue Saint Joseph is the main street for this part of our tour. Our first stop with guests bringing children is the well-known toy shop, Benjos.  Celine Dion brought her son here in his younger years for his own private shopping excursion after store hours. 

There are a variety of clothing, jewellery, furniture and second hand shops along this street. The Basilica Notre Dame de Québec which dates back 350 years is also located on Rue Saint Joseph.

Some of our favourite restaurants are along this street including our favourite spot for brunch, le Cafe Clocher Penché.  The food here is fabulous and certainly you want to give youself time to relax and enjoy the food and the atmosphere. Reservations are mandatory as it turns out we are not the only ones that enjoy this lively bistro.

Simons Clothing Store .... a must stop for shopping
A weekend visitor often finds this list exhausting. So, I would not recommend that you pack it all in to one weekend.  Take some time to stroll through the old city and then set your priorities on what you hope to experience while visiting Québec.

If you are ready to head out of the well-known tourist areas then you are in for some real treats. Heading up into the Charlevoix is our next favourite activity on our list.

Perhaps a day trip to Ïle d’Orléan, Baie Saint-Paul, La Malbaie and/or Tadoussac ?
So much more to discover in our town, village and sometimes city. 

How about yours?


  1. sigh I love and hate these posts... so wish I was home some days. Thanks for the memories!

  2. I highly recommend taking the ferry to Lévis and enjoy the view. During nice summer days you can enjoy a fantastic sunset behind Chateau Frontenac! :)

    1. So right Carla!! I think this is a must-see!! A great perspective back on the city of Québec. Thanks.

  3. That was a great tour Donna. I've only been there once 20 years ago with a class of grade 9 ers on their school trip. It was brief but fun and I'd love to go back. It's a really beautiful "city". ;)

  4. I was there when they had excavated the ruins of the old barracks and it was magical! It's such a beautiful "village" and touring it with you must be wonderful.

  5. I enjoyed the tour in Quebec very much, it reminded me of the only day I spent in the city!

  6. Oh, so beautiful. Just the other day I said that we should get passports so we can go up to Canada. I've never been to Quebec City.

  7. I've been in Québec, it's amazing!! I love Ïle d'Orléan!!

  8. What an interesting post today! I've only been to Montreal, never to QC, I would love to visit though, it looks to be even more interesting than Montreal. I would love to see more of my country some day!

  9. Thanks for the lovely tour!! My sister and I visited with our daughters a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  10. I'm totally confused here Donna LOL - when you mention Rue St Paul - and the Old Port you're talking about Montreal, right?
    Not Quebec city?
    Or does Quebec City have a St Paul also? It looks identical to the one here in Montreal -
    Also - I noticed the CANADIAN flag flying in the Quebec City photos - quel impressive LOL -
    Gorgeous photos - Gorgeous province - despite everything - it's still a gorgeous province!!!

    1. Ha! Suzan you are too funny. I was waiting for a Montréaler to jump in. :) Yes, Québec city has a Rue St. Paul and an Old Port. You should come for a visit! :)

    2. You do know I've been there many many times, right Donna LOL ???
      But I honestly never knew there was a St Paul and an old Port - how could I not know that?
      Maybe I'll come up and see you in January - after Florida :) so I can show off my tan lol

    3. Ha! you are welcome any time.... tan and all! :)


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