Québec City: Canada’s Taste of Europe

I’ve gushed before on here about how much I love history, how fascinating I find quaint medieval towns like Assisi, and how awed I am by Gothic architecture. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has been to Québec City to hear that I fell head over heels for the 1608 splendor of Old Québec. If there’s one place I’ve been in Canada that truly made me feel like I was walking the streets of a city in Europe, it’s Québec City.

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By far, the shining star of Québec City (also referred to as Québec, with an accent to differentiate from the province Quebec) is the old city center, known as Old Québec. Québec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America, and by far is the one in Canada that feels closest to its European roots in terms of architecture and structures. For instance, Old Québec is a walled area, complete with gates to pass through for entry. Walking through them gave me flashbacks to visiting Rome.

Before any of that, our first stop was the Plains of Abraham.

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The Plains of Abraham sits within Battlefields Park, Canada’s first national historic park, established in 1908. Despite now being a public space where picnics and events can be held, the Plains of Abraham is best known as the site of the Battle of Québec in 1759, where British and French forces fought for control of the city. Today, the site remains home to La Citadelle.

We opted to skip the museum tour in favour of simply strolling the grounds, but from what I’ve heard it’s worth a peek. Instead, we made our way up to the beginning of the Governor’s Promenade for a stunning view of the St. Lawrence River.

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The Governor’s Promenade is a boardwalk which hugs the cliffside and connects the Plains of Abraham to Old Québec. Depending on which direction you’re going, you’ll be ascending or descending several sets of stairs. For anyone with a significant fear of heights, it might not be an advisable route.

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Brit was nice enough to say otherwise, though I’m sure I drove her crazy stopping every ten seconds to snap another picture or take in the view with an open-mouthed, wide-eyed gaze. Walking along the Governor’s Promenade, it’s easy to see why no one could have easily approached from the river. Between the bird’s eye view and the steep, rocky cliff, only those invited could have made it that way.

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The Governor’s Promenade brings you right down to the Château Frontenac, an impressively stellar hotel dating back to 1892. Its aesthetically pleasing architecture has ensured it remains the most photographed hotel in the world.

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Old Québec has charm in spades. Everywhere you turn there’s a photographic building or a French-inspired closeted street. I didn’t necessarily have any must-see sites and was more than content to simply wander the streets without aim. Given all the history around you, you really can’t go wrong with that.

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One building we did explore the interior of was Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, built in 1647.

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Along with containing the remains of four governors of “New France”, this cathedral contains one of only two Holy Doors to be found outside of Europe (the other is in Manila, Philippines).

Though the interior didn’t impress me as much as other cathedrals I’ve seen, it still felt amazing to wander around one of the oldest sites in Canada. Despite its impressive size and age, the current building is actually the third version of the church, as the building was previously destroyed twice by fire.

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We eventually wandered back outside and strolled around the streets. This city is definitely made for walking, and has a great balance of historical buildings and quirky stores. The little side streets are an Instagrammer’s dream.

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The city gate was as picturesque as the rest of the city, and I could barely contain my excitement when the horse-drawn carriage rolled through. Québec City quickly became one of my favourite cities I’ve been to, particularly Old Québec. It is well worth a visit, and is a place I’m already longing to return to.

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With that, it was time to bid a fond farewell to the city and to our trip. The remainder of it was only a five hour car ride and a return to the real world.

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Have you been to Québec City before?

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