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