North American City with European Flair | Quebec City
A very popular travel itinerary is the Canada-New England cruise, one that is offered by many cruise lines. It is especially popular during the autumn months when one sees the changing foliage to shades of yellow, gold, and red. Most of these itineraries either have Quebec City in Canada as a starting/end point or as a port of call. This is a marvelous city to visit, and probably the closest one will get to having a “European” experience in North America.
Quebec City is the second largest city behind Montreal in the Canadian province of the same name, and is located where the magnificent St. Lawrence River narrows and forms an estuary. The name itself is believed to come from the Algonquin word “kebec” meaning “where the river narrows”. Quebec is composed of an Upper Town and a Lower Town.
Chateau Frontenac above the buildings of the Lower Town (Image: Adobe Stock)
The Upper and Lower Towns
The Upper Town towers over the river with the Chateau Frontenac as its most powerful silhouette. The high ground is Cape Diamond some 100 meters above sea level. The Upper Town can be reached by a set of stairs or a funicular rail.
The Lower Town is the city’s historic centre. Both Upper and Lower boast historical sites, and there are many to visit in both areas besides a large variety of boutiques and quaint shops. Stroll streets of Lower town with its weathered stone buildings and you will think you are in an old city in Europe. Quebec is one of the oldest cities in North America being four hundred years old.
Visit in summer (Image: Pixabay)
Or winter! (Image: Adobe Stock)
A Bit of History
Jacques Cartier was the first European to found a settlement here in 1541 but it was not until Samuel de Champlain in 1608 that a colony survived and flourished, the others before it defeated by weather, sickness, and the indigenous people. Champlain fortified the city against attack as France and England were continually at odds. His intact walls are the only city ramparts remaining north of Mexico, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the Lower Town there is also a small church, the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. It is in the spot where Champlain built his first home/fort in 1608. The church was built in 1688 and named after two early victories against the English but rebuilt twice after bombings by the English in the mid eighteenth century. It was surrounded by merchants originally, and today is no different, making it the hub of any visit.
Another place to visit – perhaps to have a meal or a post/pre cruise stay is the Chateau Frontenac perched on the hill over the Lower Town. It was built as a grand hotel in the great age of the railroad, and still maintains that reputation today. Outside the hotel is the Terasse Dufferin which is a walk along the top of the cliff affording marvelous views. The walkway will eventually lead to the Plains of Abraham, where the battle of the same name decided Quebec’s fate under an English victory.
L’Eglise Notre-Dame Des Victoires at night (Image: Bigstock)
Terasse Dufferin (Image: Pixabay)
Porte Dauphine Gate in the old walls of Quebec (Image: Bigstock)
Other Sites To Visit
Other places noteworthy of a visit are the Musee de Fort, Artillery Park Heritage Site, the Musee de la Civilisation, and Montmorency Falls to the city’s east. These are just a few activities on a visit to Quebec City, as one is spoiled for choice with history, dining, and shopping. Plan ahead what you wish to see as (from one who knows) you can be enamored of the historic downtown and spend a whole day there!
Looking over the city (Image: Adobe Stock)
Arrange to visit Quebec City on a lovely Canada-New England cruise. Ask your travel expert to book your cruise now for the coming year.
Main image courtesy of Adobe Stock. Originally published in 2015; updated in 2022.
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