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Introducing Québec City

The crown jewel of French Canada, Québec City is one of North America’s oldest and most magnificent settlements. Its picturesque Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage site, a living museum of narrow cobblestone streets, 17th- and 18th-century houses and soaring church spires, with the splendid Château Frontenac towering above it all. There’s more than a glimmer of Old Europe in its classic bistros, sidewalk cafes and manicured squares.

You can get a taste of the city in a single day, but linger at least a weekend if you can. The city’s compact size makes it ideal for walking, and it shines brightest when you slow down.

The main focus of your visit should be the Old Town, split between the Haute Ville (Upper Town), perched above the St Lawrence River on the Cap Diamant cliffs, and the Basse Ville (Lower Town), where Samuel de Champlain established the first French foothold in 1608. The Old Town is packed with museums, mansard-roofed houses and cobblestone streets just begging to be explored.

Outside the walls, through the historic town gates of Porte St-Louis and Porte St-Jean, four additional neighborhoods are easily accessible: St-Jean Baptiste, Colline Parlementaire, Montcalm and St-Roch, each boasting wonderful restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Also noteworthy here are the vast Plains of Abraham, where the British defeated the French in 1759; nowadays enshrined as a national park, this area offers superb recreational opportunities.

Québec City goes to great lengths to entertain visitors. All summer long, musicians, acrobats and actors in period costume take to the streets, while fantastic festivals fill the air with fireworks and song. In the coldest months of January and February, Québec’s Winter Carnival is arguably the biggest and most colorful winter festival around. Fall and spring bring beautiful foliage, dramatically reduced prices and thinner crowds.

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