A Canadian city, very European and on a human scale, to visit in a full day: Québec City will captivate you at first sight.
Quebec City, overlooking the San Lorenzo River and declared in 1985 UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest city in East Canada.
Not only is it one of the most visited cities in Québec, but it differs in its very French and therefore European aspect, little metropolis and little North America. But with its cobbled streets, almost Parisian gray roofs, the absence of buildings and the old walls that surround it, it will conquer you from the first glance.
A full day is enough to visit the city: literally on a human scale, leave the car and turn it up and down the streets of the old city. You will be able to see everything without even running.
1. By boat to Lévis
Start by taking the ferry to Lévis, la town on the south bank of the San Lorenzo River right in front of Québec City.
The boat offers the ideal location to have the best photo of the Chateaux Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world overlooking the city view.
The ride costs a few dollars and is short, within 30 minutes (15 minutes each way) you will be able to do there and back and the ferries leave about every 20 minutes. If you have more time, you can also consider a longer cruise that lasts about an hour and a half to discover the San Lorenzo.
2. The changing of the guard in Québec City
Back "in the city", if you like ceremonies go to the Citadel for the changing of the guard (similar in some ways to that of Buckingham Palace) which takes place from late June to early September every morning at 10.00.
Allow at least 40 minutes of parade. To attend you will have to pay 16 Canadian dollars which entitles you to access the fortress, the museum visit with guided tour (optional) and the ceremony.
3. Looking for souvenirs on Rue du Petit Champlain
One of the small streets not to be missed is Rue du Petit Champlain, a narrow street full of boutiques a few meters away, perfect if you are looking for some souvenirs: crowded in summer and magical in winter with all the Christmas trees, snow and lights always on.
4. Terrasse Dufferin: a beautiful view
At the beginning of the street you will find the funicular to go up to the Terrasse Dufferin and for only 3 dollars you will avoid the staircase arriving right in front of the Chateaux Frontenac.
From here you will enjoy a beautiful view of the San Lorenzo, stroll around the vast terrace, be sure to browse the hotel and get to the Promenade of the Governors.
5. Québec City, the old city
At this point you just have to get lost in the old city between narrow streets and cute shops.
Admire Place Royale where the church seems almost designed and you get to the very small one Rue du Tresor, to buy a painting like in Montmartre.
If antiques and antiques are your thing go in Rue du St. Paul, the street of antiquarians and if the time is for lunch, stop by Le buffet de l'Antiquaire. Don't be frightened by the queue of people waiting, it clears up very quickly.
For a particular souvenir or for Christmas fanatics, you can't miss a stop in The Boutique de Noël de Québec: Christmas decorations all year round and bags of hot chocolate with a thousand flavors to stock up on.
For a food-souvenir, the Épicerie JA Moisan, the oldest grocery in North America, in Rue Saint Jean will satisfy your search.
To experience a particular and intriguing atmosphere, every evening when the light goes down the Ghost tour where the guides, strictly dressed in period costume, in the light of a lantern, will accompany you throughout the old city telling you the stories and legends that animate this city.
Tips for dining and sleeping in Québec City
For an unforgettable dinner choose Chez Boulay-Bistro Boréal in the heart of the upper city, romantic and with a decidedly Nordic style.
Here, Arnaud Marchand - one of the best known chefs in Canada - he makes his dishes using only “boréal” products: local products that come from the extreme lands north of Canada.
Interesting too Le Lapin Sauté in Rue du Petit Champlain with its many terracotta jars hanging outside and a very special menu.
Finally, to sleep, choose a central hotel with a lot of parking where to leave the car: the Champlain Vieux Hotel it is located right inside the old city and is an excellent compromise between cost, quality and location.