5 things not to miss in Quebec City
And did I mention they were free? As I would discover, Quebec City is one of those cities where the best thing to do is to soak up its incredibly beautiful and historic ambiance. It’s on par with cities like Charleston and New Orleans in that regard. Sure, there are definitely attractions you can visit where you will have to pay to enter and I did for one of them (post coming soon on that), but for the most part, the money I spent in Quebec City (save for lodging) was for a food tour, shopping, and eating. Here are five sights you don’t want to miss while visiting Quebec City.
Rue Sous-le-Cap (Street Under the Cape)
This is the city’s narrowest street, just under 10 feet wide, and at one time it was also home to the city’s Red Light District. (Once you walk the street this should come as no surprise. It really reminded me of Creek Street in the Alaskan port city of Ketchikan.) In the early 19th century, it was simply a path along the cliff of Cape Diamond and allowed pedestrians to traverse from the Lower Town to the coast of the Palace at low tide. It’s bordered on one side by the back of the houses on Rue Saint-Paul and on the other by the cape which falls almost perpendicular to it.
Old Town Murals
Quebec City’s Old Town is home to not one but two striking murals or fresque as they’re known in French. The first is the most well-known and largest, Fresque des Québécois. Located on the Côte de la Montagne, it’s only a stone’s throw from the beautiful Place Royal. The mural tells the story of Quebec City, incorporating visual allusions to its unique architecture and fortifications and also its life-size personalities. There are countless historic figures depicted in it including its most famous one, Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec City.
The second fresque is the Fresque du Petit-Champlain, situated at the foot of Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps). It shows milestones in the history of Cap-Blanc, the city’s working-class waterfront neighborhood, from its beginnings as New France (a colony of the French Empire) to present day.
Personally, I preferred the Fresque du Petit-Champlain more but both are visually striking.
Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec
So while the Old Port Market is billed as a Christmas market, it’s really just an indoor farmer’s market. I was slightly disappointed by this as I was anxious to check off as much of the Christmas scene in Quebec as possible. However, from a farmer’s market standpoint, it was a beautiful place to visit. I loved seeing all of the signage in French and especially the local products. This is going away from the Old Town but it is still less than a 10 minute walk from Old Quebec’s Lower Town.
Quartier Petit Champlain
I’m not going to lie, the Quartier Petit Champlain was the main reason I wanted to visit Quebec City, but especially at Christmastime. It’s truly a picture-perfect neighborhood and makes you feel as if you’re in some small European village and not a modern city of more than half a million people. Home to stunning historic architecture and cobblestone streets, you’ll have a wonderful time just exploring its streets, perusing shops, and dining at one of the many awesome restaurants. One of our meals was at Le Lapin Sauté, a beautifully decorated spot from the outside.
Meandering through the streets of Upper Town
On my trip to Quebec City, I stayed in Lower Town but actually spent most of my time in Upper Town. You’ll find that with the exception of the Quartier Petit Champlain, the vibes between the two sections of Old Town are quite different While Lower Town is extremely quiet to the point seeming dead (well, especially in the evening), Upper Town is booming, teeming with people. There’s more to see and do in Upper Town, but I recommend getting away from the throngs of people and just walking its side streets, especially its steep, hilly ones.
And it goes without saying that you should definitely spend some time “soaking it all in” at Place Royal, the site where the city was born way back in the early 17th century. Quebec City is a beautiful destination and there is no shortage of places to photograph and simply “be.”
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