Here are our highlights for Quebec City:
The city’s principal landmark is a hotel, Fairmont Château Frontenac, which has loomed over the town since 1892 like a protective fortress it no longer needs. Its dramatic location and the fairytale turrets of its Gothic Renaissance architecture make the Frontenac one of the most extravagant of the numerous grand hotels that the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railway companies built across the country as symbols of their commercial power. It is named after Count Louis de Frontenac, a 17th-century French governor who incurred the wrath of the clergy by encouraging the sale of brandy to the native peoples. Take a look inside at the stucco carvings, tapestries and wood panelling.
In the narrow rue du Trésor at the northwest corner of the Place d’Armes, artists gather to display their works or paint your portrait. The street leads into the city’s Latin Quarter, with a Parisian air to the 18th-century houses, cafés and bookshops around rue Couillard, rue St-Flavien and rue Hébert. This is Quebec City at its quaint best.
The city has renovated the warehouses of the Old Port (Vieux-Port) and turned it into a new commercial and community complex with a thoroughly contemporary design. The award-winning Musée de la Civilisation presents exhibitions on such subjects as language, thought, the body and society. The Vieux-Port also has a craft market, and handsome old sailing ships at anchor.
From the Parc de l’Esplanade, drive up the Côte de la Citadelle hill road and through a tunnel for a guided tour around what was once a powerful bastion. The French built the star-shaped Citadel in 1750 to resist the British. The British enlarged it in 1820 to defend Québec City against the Americans, but their cannons never fired a shot in anger. The garrison was manned by the British for only 20 years before being handed over to Canadian troops. Nowadays it is the home of Canada’s Royal 22nd Regiment.
In summer the garrison comes to life with the Changing of the Guard and Beating the Retreat. The old powder house serves now as the Musée du Royal 22e Régiment, retracing the history of the regiment with its trophies, weapons, uniforms and military artefacts.
In the southern part of Parc des Champs de Bataille (Battlefields Park), the Musée National des Beaux-Arts de Québec has a first-rate collection of Québécois painting and sculpture, as well as historic furniture, jewellery, and gold and silver church ornaments. The sculpture is principally from the 18th century, but the paintings range from the colony’s beginnings to the present day. Look out for the historical studies of Joseph Légaré, neoclassical portraits by Antoine Plamondon and Théodore Hamel, and landscapes by Cornelius Krieghoff.
Read more about the highlights of Canada in Insight Guides: Canada
Insight Guide Canada is a comprehensive, full-colour guide to getting the most out of one of the world's most beautiful countries. Engaging History and Culture chapters explain the tumultuous histor...Read full description