The days are a bit fresher, still quite windy. Nights you will certainly need a jacket, but it's not too cold yet. When I visited Quebec City, in early/mid-October, the leaves where changing, and you started seeing the more traditional colors of autumn around the city. The city workers were busy cleaning things up and decorating, there was a festiveness in the air. Canadian Thanksgiving was right around the corner
Vieux (Old) Quebec is a quaint area on the riverfront below the cliffs. It's the oldest part of quebec city and the buildings are now restored and house restaurants, galleries and lovely shops featuring souvenirs and Canadian made craft items. There are only a few streets and they are narrow and cobbled. The main one is Rue de Petit Champlain, crossed by Rue sous-le-fort.
Not far from here is the Museum of Civilization and around the corner from there is Rue St. Paul which is lined with antique shops leading to the old Port where there's a good market. You can climb up the steep streets or the staircase to the upper part of the city but there is also an old funicular behind a historic house that will take you up for a mere $2.00. You come out beside the dominating old hotel, Chateau Frontenac.
One of the drawing points of the lower Old Quebec are the elaborate murals detailing life and history in Quebec, past and present.
The upper part of Quebec City within the walls is also old though a bit newer. Here are more good places to eat, and visit with museums and galleries, churches, the citadel and Notre Dame cathedral. Stroll along Grand Allee with the large elaborate buildings or explore the Citadel. You will find plenty of places to eat and drink and shop as well.
We had 2 nights during the first week of June to see the city and took advantage of the fine, but cool night to walk through the streets for our first glimpse of the city prior to a walking tour the next morning.
All cities look good when lit up at night, particularly old cities with history and character and Quebec has plenty of that. Most of the shops and restaurants were well lit, very attractive and with plenty of people on the street most went in the direction of Chateau Frontenac . On the lookout in front of the hotel people were constantly taking photos of the river and hotel which looked magnificent and was the"lighthouse" of the city. We felt safe at all times but were back in our hotel just after 10pm.
This is simply one of the most charming cities in North America!!! It's like a little European city docked on a river with beautiful shops, homes, and walls from when it was a fortress. I think this city makes a great romantic getaway from North Americans.
Québec City's old town is perfect for walking around. Most of the interesting sights are situated in an area of approximately 2 km². A good place for starting this walk is Place d'Youville. From there you can walk down rue St. Jean until its end and turn right there. After some metres you'll reach Château Frontenac. Sit down on Terrasse Dufferin and enjoy the view over St. Lawrence River and Lévis. Then walk back into the streets of Québec City and finish your walk by climbing up Citadel Hill.
Of course, this is not the only possibility - Québec City is great for discovering it by walking around, and more often than not you'll find something completely unexpected just lurking behind the next corner.
The old city is small enough that if you're in reasonably good health, you should have no trouble walking around and exploring it on foot. I took a 2-hour guided bus tour of the area (cost $17. + tip), then the next day I walked it all comfortably in about the same time.
The following pics were all taken in the lower part of Vieux Quebec.
Prior to your visit to Quebec City you can order a free tour guide on-line or by phone, or pick it up at the visitor centre or at your hotel once you get here. These tour guides are offered by the Department of Tourism and are extremely well made. They include several different walking tours of all the different Quebec City areas, including a tour od the city within the fortifications, a tour of Parliament Hill, a tour of the Old Port area, and so on. Quebec City is not that big and it is very safe so you don't have to worry about taking a wrong turn and getting lost in an unsafe area. It is an easy and cheap way to discover the city and get to know your way around. Most walking tours also include interesting details that you probably wouldn't hear about on an organized tour, so put on your walking shoes and enjoy!
The old town is the heart of the city: cobblestone, 350 year old buildings, lots of history of Quebec and Canada to learn from. There are shops, restaurants, a mechanical lift to go to the up town., street entertainers, etc... If you have a chance, check it out at daylight and also when it's dark for 2 different ambiances.
Québec is the only remaining fortified city in North America. This feature has contributed to Québec being named as a World Heritage City. The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site tells the tale of over three centuries of Québec's military past.
Stretching over 4.6 km, the walls and ramparts bear witness to the evolution of Québec's defensive system from the 17th to the 19th century.
I think you will agree that the fortified walls add to the historic ambiance and charm of Quebec City.
In the winter it is far to slippery to walk along the tops of the walls and most of them are closed off for safety reasons. Beleive me I ventured up on top a couple of times following foot steps but quickly realized I didn't want to fall!
In the summer time though it would be a perfect way to explore the city and enjoy the amazing views.
Old Town is Quebec's principle reason as to why it's so popular and famous. Quebec was a fortress town. Since at least 1620, the town was not only a commerical and trade center, but also a military post for fledging French interests in North America. So important was Quebec to the French that they heavily fortified the town center with massive stone walls, armed to the brim with cannons, aimed out at the neighboring Plains of Abraham or down towards the St. Lawrence River. The miltary engineers all had the British in mind when they were constructed.
Thanks to the fortress, Vieux-Quebec has survived within its walls, preserving some of the oldest buildings in Canada and artifacts dear to French Canadian culture. You can walk around this relatively-confined area for hours along the cobblestone alleys and streets, passing centuries-old buildings and fortifications, smelling the food coming from restauarants and hearing French being conversed among the locals. It's as close as you can get to Europe without leaving North America.
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