Walking the Historic Streets of Old Quebec City

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If you are looking for a stereotypical experience of Quebec City, you need to take time to wander around ‘Vieux Quebec’ simply because of its iconic history and what it represents throughout the city. Located along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Old Quebec City oozes history, beautiful architectural design and a plethora of distinctive cultures that enhances Quebec’s reputation among visitors.

old quebec city

After spending the morning at the stunning and breathtakingly beautiful Montmorency Falls, we headed downtown Old Quebec to see what all the fuss was about. The first thing that you notice when you approach this part of the city is the towering structure that is Le Chateau Frontenac which really symbolizes all of the old town style. Modern day hotels really don’t have anything in comparison to this magnificent structure.

Parking

Probably the most difficult aspect when visiting Old Quebec is trying to find a parking spot. After driving around we finally came across a parking lot directly across from the Marché du Vieux Port on the Saint-André Quai that offered parking all day for $15. After a brief yet inspiring conversation en Francais with the parking attendant, we walked back up the steep slope to the town center.

old quebec city

Passing by the cannons that represented the fortified boundaries of Quebec City, we took in the awesome views overlooking the St. Lawrence River and a cruise ship that was docked apparently traveling to or from the Netherlands.

Breakneck Stairs

The main part of Old Quebec starts at the ‘Breakneck Stairs’ which I can attest to are a little trickier to walk up and down than they first look. My trip down was ok but later I almost succumbed to the infamous name by tripping over one of the steps.

old quebec city breakneck stairs

Heading down the steps to the Rue du Petit-Champlain, this really is the heart of Old Quebec.

old quebec city

Vieux Quebec Main Street

This part of Quebec is crowded with tourists and locals wandering up and down the street. You can take the local Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec which for just $2 is a bargain, though aside from the experience it really only saves you from climbing the stairs to get to the summit.

old quebec city funicular

We really enjoyed exploring the local souvenir shops, browsing the menus of local restaurants and of course watching the resident Québécois street performers displaying their skills on a variety of instruments.

old quebec city architecture

Old Quebec is also famous for the stunning murals that cover many of the walls around this city. Each one tells a very unique story of the history in Quebec. Combine all of this together and you get that European style feeling that you would typically associate with an old French or Italian village.

old quebec city mural

Old Quebec Cuisine

Testing the local maple syrup ice cream was on our must do list, though for $5 each it was a little on the expensive side but I have to admit well worth it. Maple syrup isn’t the same unless you sample it in Canada! Of course we later sampled another Canadian delicacy, poutine which was equally tasty but didn’t look quite as appealing to the naked eye!

There are so many quaint shops and local residences along the Rue du Petit-Champlain that you just have to take a moment to take in the beautiful architecture.

old quebec city cuisine

After heading back up the breakneck stairs, we continued heading towards Le Chateau Frontenac, which is a good focal point so that you don’t get lost around the streets of Quebec City. On the contrary, I would encourage you to try and get lost by strolling up and down random streets because you never know what you may come across.

old quebec city

We walked to the other entrance of the fortified walls of Quebec City, which is a great spot to climb the walls and walk around, in many ways similar to what we experienced in York, England. Here you can sit on the grass and overlook the majestic city in front of you, a truly relaxing experience as you catch your breath before heading back to explore further.

old quebec city view

Summary

We spent all afternoon in Old Quebec and I think we would both agree that this was the best part of our whole Memorial Day trip. To experience the culture and history throughout this part of the city was a memory we will cherish forever and definitely encourages us to go back and spend more time there.

40 COMMENTS

  1. What an incredible chateau… it looks like Hogwarts!!! 🙂

    I’ve never been to Quebec City before but the place looks to have lots of character. It seems very relaxed and with a casual atmosphere, and the architecture looks stunning… my kind nof city! 🙂

    • Exactly how we felt Paul when we visited Quebec City! The architecture really is something else throughout the city and well, words really can’t do the chateau justice! All I can say is seeing the hotel in person is even more impressive than what pictures show, so I would encourage you to pay a visit and explore for yourself 🙂 The atmosphere throughout the old part of the town is relaxation personified. Everyone is just either wandering around the streets, browsing the shop windows or sampling some of the local cuisine or sat outside a local bistro. A perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon if you ask me!

    • You are very welcome Cory and thanks for the comments! Gorgeous city without doubt and I am sure you would really have a great time if and when you venture there.

    • The ever increasing bucket list right Elaine 🙂 We know all about that and how it only seems to get longer even when you are traveling and knocking off places from the list! Don’t blame you at all though for making Quebec City a little higher on your list, you certainly won’t regret it.

    • We really fell in love with Quebec City Alouise! I would highly encourage anyone crossing the Canadian border to head there and experience it for yourself, especially if you enjoy exploring Europe because as I mentioned in another comment it has such a European feel to it and maybe that’s the primary reason why we enjoyed it so much there.

  2. What a wonderful post and photos. I actually visited here in the early 2000s as part of a French Club field trip. Your pictures and experiences really remind me of the wonderful trip and make me want to look through old photographs (I would have to get to my parent’s house first). I actually stayed in Le Chateau Frontenac, which is an amazing hotel. I agree that it is hard to find hotels like this that have such an influence on the culture and city!
    Angela Travels recently posted…Touring the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers for FreeMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for your kind comments Angela and of course for linking up with us 🙂 Very envious of you that you were able to actually stay in Le Chateau Frontenac. Our intention was to stay there also but I guess we left booking too late and by the time we looked they were already fully booked. I am guessing it is a pretty sought after location to stay in Old Quebec.

    • We really did a lot on our road trip Noel but culminating in Quebec City really made everything worthwhile because this was without doubt our favorite spot of everywhere we visited in both Canada and USA. Whether it was because of the relaxing feeling or just because everything we did there involved breathtaking scenery (Montmorency Falls etc.) and gorgeous architecture, I’m not sure but whatever it was we will definitely return here to spend longer, probably sooner rather than later.

    • It’s a gorgeous city Rachel and yes those stairs…well I can’t say I love them after almost falling over but they certainly are cool and great to stand at the top and look down along the Rue du Petit Champlain which is the heart of Vieux Quebec.

    • You will love Quebec City! It has such a European feel to it and that’s not just because the predominant language is French. The laid back day to day life of the Quebecois locals really comes to the forefront and this is particularly apparent as you wander around Vieux Quebec with the street performers serenading tourists with their relaxing music.

    • Trust me, Le Chateau Frontenac looks even more impressive in person. I had seen pictures of this and marvelled over how gorgeous it looked but how it stands tall as a focal point above the rest of the city really is a great piece of architectural genius.

      Yes, we were pretty much sold also the moment we set our eyes on the maple syrup ice cream. Sure they were a little expensive but you pay for delicious treats 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your comments Bianca! We just took the picture but didn’t actually ride the Funiculaire even though it was only a couple of dollars. Maybe riding it up and down for the experience would be really cool but I think walking around and up the hill not only gives you more exercise but you can also find some hidden gems along the way 🙂

      The architecture throughout the interior of the fortified walls of Quebec City is particularly historic and it’s nice to see a blend with modern design on the other half of Quebec City.

  3. I visited Quebec a couple of years ago on a famtour for work and as it was the 4th city within 4 days (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and then Quebec) i felt completely overwhelmed with “Canadian cities” and never got to experience it properly, in my opinion. Going back there one day is definitely on my wishlist. Love to see a picture of the Chateau Frontenac with the dark colored roof, I only know it with a green-ish roof (if you are curious, look on Google) … this is because the roof is made of copper that colored over the year and now they restored it back to its original color.
    Antonette recently posted…we12plog: from Norway to Curaçao!My Profile

    • Wow, I didn’t know about that Hannah! We love wandering around Christmas markets so we may have to look into taking a trip to Quebec City ourselves in the latter part of the year. I can just imagine walking around the snow covered streets of Vieux Quebec taking in the local Christmas markets. Awesome thought!

  4. “Maple syrup isn’t the same unless you sample it in Canada! ” Ahmen! This post made me smile 🙂 What a great summary of your experience in Vieux Quebec. I absolutely love it there. I’m so glad you didn’t ride la funiculaire and walked up the steep hill yourself, much more fun that way. Did you make it to the fudge shop by any chance? Thanks for the memories!

    • We walked right past it Alli! Can you believe we didn’t go in there and sample any of the fudge? Shame on us right! But to our defence, we had just sampled the maple syrup ice cream but I guess we should have gone in and at least bought some to take with us on the rest of the road trip. Thanks so much for your kind comments, we truly had an amazing time in Quebec City and really can’t wait to go back to experience this further.

    • You definitely hit the nail on the head there Francesca because it has such a European feel to it, you wouldn’t know that you were in North America when walking the streets! I guess that’s why we loved it there so much also.

  5. As someone who has spent several days in Quebec City, I have to say that you hit the highlights perfectly. Those streets are really nice to wander around and there are plenty are bars or cafes to tuck into for a coffee or glass of wine. How long did you guys spend in QC? I feel like 2 days is enough, especially given the number of tour groups that flood the city. But my wife and I explored a bit outside the old town and were able to track down some very cool restaurants – some new to complement the old.
    Dave Cole recently posted…Monday Morning Photo – View from a café, Abidjan, Cote d’IvoireMy Profile

    • Dave, we actually just spent 2 days there also (well probably more like 36 hours). It was enough time to explore much of downtown Quebec and we were even able to get outside of Quebec City ourselves to explore Montmorency Falls which was really cool. It was interesting driving from south of the St. Lawrence River through the new part of Quebec into Vieux Quebec and noting the vast differences but I really think that it works well in this city which makes it so attractive for visitors. As you mentioned, it complements very effectively!

    • We definitely were very fortunate with the weather Lauren! Quebec City is the sort of place though that regardless of the weather you could have an enjoyable experience there just wandering the old cobbled streets. You really hit the key word though with ‘charming’ because every little street corner and alley has something different and unique that makes it such an intriguing city to explore!

      Looking forward to following you on your travels and experiences through Quebec, I am sure you will have a great time like we did!

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