Driving into Québec City is a visual metamorphosis. One moment, you’re surrounded by Canadian countryside, characterized by rolling hills and pastoral vistas dotted with small farmhouses. It only takes a handful of kilometers for this peaceful scene to transform into the second largest city in the province.
Québec City is the essence of French Canada. Only a few hours’ drive from the United States border, it is home to the provincial parliamentary building, an impressive waterfall, and as many French-style bistros and cobblestoned streets as Paris (arguably). With the charm of a medieval European town, Québec City truly has something to offer for everyone.
The architecture of the city reflects its rich history dating back to the 16th century. As the only fortified city on the continent north of Mexico, visitors can tour La Citadelle and pose for pictures by the many castle-like buildings that exemplify the French history of the region.
The culture of the city is also displayed through its culinary achievements. Before I departed on my trip, a wise friend advised me to go to Québec City with an empty stomach. If you’re looking for good places to eat, you won’t have to look far. Creperies and patisseries are abound, with meals suiting every possible craving. Perhaps the most sought-out food in the city is poutine – an awe-inducing combination of french fries, cheese curds and gravy that is not for the faint of heart.
When there are so many good things to eat, it’s necessary to balance it by staying active. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside. Walking along the stone ramparts gives a great view of the city and of the St. Lawrence River. If you’re not afraid of climbing stairs, catch a bus to Montmorency Falls. Standing 276 ft. high, the falls are host to a museum, cable car and even a zip line.
Although French is the most commonly spoken language in the city, everyone I encountered spoke English as well, making it easy to navigate and communicate. Providing a taste of Europe just hours north of the United States, Québec City is a cultural fusion that no traveller should overlook.