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The French-speaking state of Quebec is beautiful in winter or summer alike. With stone cobbled streets, narrow alleys with independent shops and stunning architecture, Quebec is a popular Canadian city for tourists.
Whilst Montreal is better for corporate activities, Quebec City offers a true taste of the French-Canadian heritage with its picturesque Old Town which is a Unesco World Heritage site and gorgeous 17th- and 18th-century houses which are picture perfect.
In winter you can take a horse sled ride through Quebec city, go ice skating, skiing or visit an ice bar, warm up with a bowl of poutine and admire the beautiful Christmas lights.
In Summer, Quebec comes alive with bustling tourists visiting the old capital, Quebec City in search of the French Canadian history, riding a cable car or enjoying the beautiful views.
In Québec, the joie de vivre is contagious, the creativity is abundant and nature and wildlife are spectacular. Prepare to be wowed, seduced and surprised at this accessible and diverse part of Canada.
Québec is Canada's largest province and just over 7 hours from the UK, ideal for both long and short breaks. Its French and British heritage makes it unique; and with its incredible geography, history and culture, this region is really something special. Québec's geography offers diverse landscapes, flora & fauna and a climate of four distinct seasons. Located at the north-eastern tip of North America, the province of Québec is five times the size of France. It extends nearly 2,000 km from the border with the USA up to the Arctic Ocean and spreads from the province of Ontario to the west through Newfoundland and Labrador to the east. The province is dissected by the St. Lawrence River, one of the world's largest rivers, creating a fluvial plain between the Canadian Shield to the north and the Appalachian Mountains to the south.
With its French and British heritage, the province of Québec is a delightful blend of the old and new world. Home to the world's second-largest French-speaking city after Paris – Montréal - where English is also widely spoken, its enthusiastic and friendly people are known for their passion, spontaneity and unique joie de vivre. The provincial capital Québec City is one of North America's oldest cities and its historic centre is now part a UNESCO's World Heritage site. Montréal and Québec City are gateways to Québec's great outdoors offering the likes of skiing in winter, whale watching in summer and spectacular wilderness lodges year-round. Full of surprising contrasts with a perfect blend of French and British cultures, the province of Québec is famous for its unique festivals, stylish dining experiences and live music scene.
Montréal offers a perfect blend of French and British Heritage. It is the largest city in the province of Québec, and the second largest city in Canada, after Toronto. Montréal was recently named a UNESCO City of Design. Québec City may be the political capital of the province, but Montréal is its cultural and economic heart and the main entry point to the province. It has a well-deserved reputation as one of the liveliest cities in North America and is the second largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. The population of Montréal is about 1.9 million, with 4 million in the metro area.
Montréal is a melting pot of cultures and lifestyles. Explore the cobblestone streets of Vieux Montréal and enjoy its lively café society. There is an abundance of street festivals: the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada is definitely an exhilarating event not to miss and the International Fireworks Festival will impress all ages. A window on the river, the Old Port is the site of unique experiences from jet boating on the Lachine Rapids of the St Lawrence River to witnessing the colourful and vibrant Cirque du Soleil shows.
As Montréal is the city with the largest number of restaurants per capita in North America, even the fussiest eater will find a restaurant to suit their tastes. The culinary cuisine scene is strongly influenced by local flavours and European traditions. Many of the chefs work hand in hand with local suppliers and can be found exploring the public markets for inspiration for their next great creation.
Montréal is a city full of flair, style and inspiring fashion, with Montrealers effortlessly combining high street, vintage and designer elements to create their own style. Montréal is a shopper’s paradise with one of the longest and most diverse shopping streets in North America – Rue St Catherine, at 15 kilometres long has as many independents shops as big-name brand stores. From there, escape the heat (or cold!) via the underground pedestrian network, home to more than 1,700 shops and several department stores.
The Underground City
Many people come to Montréal to shop in its wide range of international boutiques. Possibly the most famous shopping area in Montréal is the Underground City, marked by its official name RESO (from the French reseau, meaning network). Constantly growing, the "city" - which links many major buildings and multi-level shopping malls in the downtown area - is a shopper’s paradise in any season. Safe and sheltered from the elements, the Underground City offers a huge range of goods and services, food courts, cinemas and entertainment, as well as a handy way to get from place to place without weather or traffic problems.
Montréal's Notre-Dame Basilica has nothing in common with Paris's except the name. It's a neogothic building dating from 1829, constructed on the site of a much older and smaller church which had been outgrown by its parishioners. It is not a cathedral. Notre-Dame is noted for its lavish and beautiful interior - stained glass windows, paintings, statues, gold-tipped polychrome carvings, rich altarpiece. It also has a notable Casavant organ and its largest bell, le Gros Bourdon, is the biggest on the continent.
The lookout on top of Mount Royal is an excellent place for an urban walk. It's part of Mount Royal Park, laid out long ago by Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for landscaping New York's Central Park. From the beautifully appointed lookout terrace, downtown Montréal is at your feet, with a view to the river and beyond to the Monteregian Hills. Some sight lines to landmarks are marked along the parapet wall. Mount Royal is an attraction in Montréal in all seasons. In summertime it's a cool airy refuge from the heat of the city, in the autumn the changing colours of the trees are a joy, and in winter there's a range of sports from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to skating and tobogganing or inner-tubing down the slopes.
The Olympic Stadium & Environs
The Olympic Stadium was built for Montréal's 1976 Summer Olympics and is used today for occasional sports events, major trade shows and concerts. An elevator ascends the world's tallest inclined tower to a lookout on top. The stadium is one of Montréal's most curious pieces of architecture and is accompanied by the Biodome (a building originally used for cycle racing during the 1976 games, now a kind of indoor zoo)
The only walled city in North America, Québec City is over 400 years old making it one of North America's oldest cities. This picturesque city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and only 3 hours away from Montréal by car or train. The cobbled streets are bursting with fantastic boutiques, unforgettable bistros and historic sites. Walk along the promenade outside the Hotel Château Frontenac for amazing views of the mighty St Lawrence River and the old Lower Town. Visit Le Petit Champlain, a commercial shopping street where local Québécois arts, crafts and produce are sold.
Sure of its charms, and with a dash of haughtiness, Québec City’s gracious yet simple style continues to delight visitors. The city has what it takes to please: an enchanting setting on the St. Lawrence River, a priceless architectural legacy and a rich and colourful past. The surrounding region is brimming with exceptional natural parks and pretty heritage villages.
Québec city can be divided into two areas:
The Upper Town lies at the foot of the Citadel, the immortal Château Frontenac with its medieval-looking gables and turrets towers above Dufferin Terrace. Nearby the splendid Battlefields Park was the site of the 1759 clash between the French and the British, one of the most significant military events in North American history. A beacon of the park, the Musée National des Beaux-Arts, has a remarkable collection of Québec’s art.
In the Lower Town (Basse-Ville), the funicular connects to the Upper (Haute-Ville), which hearkens back to the first days of the colony. The Petit-Champlain Quarter and Place-Royale are brimming with activity. There is an interpretation centre, art and craft-art boutiques and many restaurants and bistros. The Musée de la Civilisation presents various themed exhibitions with an up-to-the-minute interactive approach. Nearby, the Old Port is the perfect spot for a summertime cruise on the river. Do not forget to taste local products at the Québec City market.
A must when you are in the charming city of Québec is a tour of the Citadelle, a national historic site, located on the Cap Diamant. Construction of the Citadelle with its star-shaped layout, characteristic of Vauban’s fortifications, began in 1820 and ended in 1850. Its walls have witnessed 300 years of military history in Québec City spanning the French, British and Canadian periods. Guided tours of the site and the Royal 22e Régiment Museum are available all year-round. Be sure to catch the ceremony and changing of the Guards in summer, why not also take a nighttime tour in summer and autumn.
Hop-on Hop-off bus tours and much more
There are many different tours and guide services available to ensure you see all the attractions Québec City has to offer. See the main sights by land and by water, with regional excursions also available to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Île d'Orléans and the Montmorency Falls. Why not choose a guided tour of Québec in a double-decker in the morning, and a regional tour in the afternoon. The tour guides are professional, friendly and will make sure you have a good time.
Aquarium du Québec
Dive into a world of discoveries! See nearly 10,000 marine animals, including the aquarium's famous polar bear, walruses and seals. This huge site has superbly laid out areas both indoors and outdoors including picnic areas, water games and adventure trails for children. This is a great day out for all the family.
Fortifications of Québec
Why go to China when you can walk a great wall right here! Québec is the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, with close to 4.6km of walls and imposing gates to explore. Discover beautiful cityscapes and see how Québec's defences developed under the French and English regimes. Cannons, loopholes, the Esplanade Powder Magazine, a star-shaped Citadel, Artillery Park, and fortresses are all part of this outstanding tour!
Place-Royale/ Petit-Champlain District
How about a trip to do some window shopping in the nearby Petit-Champlain District while you're at it! As you wander past period buildings along cobblestone streets, enjoy the area's boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. There's magic in the air, particularly over the Christmas holiday season. The oldest neighbourhood in North America is also home to Musée de la Civilisation: a bridge between the past and future with its modern design and fascinating exhibitions.
From the Canada goose to the great blue heron, from the moose to the humpback whale, more than 650 animal species including 200 fish and 325 birds inhabit Québec’s carefully preserved territory. Many of these species can be seen in the wilderness or unexpectedly during a stroll through the forest, in one of Québec’s national parks or wildlife reserves. Québec is also home to over 13 species of large sea mammals, including the great blue whale, making whale watching is a must do in this province.
Québec is home to a range of different animals, one of the most popular of which is the whale. Watching a whale burst through the water's surface is a fascinating and unforgettable sight. This exceptional experience can be yours on the St. Lawrence River! Québec is one of the few places in the world where you can see such a wide variety of large sea mammals (13 species in all). They are attracted by the river's wealth of shellfish, which they feast on... and by its impressive depth!
Québec's cetacean population
The blue whale, the most imposing animal on Earth, lives in the waters of the St. Lawrence. This gargantuan mammal can attain 25 m (82 ft.) in length! The second-largest cetacean, the fin whale, can be found here as well. Numerous species of rorqual can also be seen in the river, including the humpback whale, known for its exuberant leaps through the air. In addition to these two giants, you might see porpoises and dolphins (especially in the Gulf). Lastly, you will probably catch a flash of white floating on the waves: these are belugas, the small arctic whales that live in the St. Lawrence year-round. About 1,000 endangered belugas inhabit the river.
Whale Watching Excursions
Many ports in the St. Lawrence estuary and gulf, and on the river's north and south shores, offer whale watching excursions daily from May to October on board boats of every size. The preferred spots for cetaceans are the Saguenay Fjord, Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park (with numerous departures from Tadoussac, Baie-Sainte-Catherine, Rivière-du-Loup and Trois-Pistoles), the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada (Duplessis) and the Forillon National Park of Canada, in the Gaspésie. Québec is known for its knowledgeable interpretation guides on these cruises, who provide information not only on the whales but on their habitat and other ecotourism topics as well.
In some spots, the river is so deep near the shore that you can regularly see whales without leaving the shoreline. Places, where this is possible, include the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord, Cap-de-Bon-Désir (Bergeronnes), two sites in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, and Pointe des Monts (Duplessis). To be sure you don't miss a thing, take a trip along the Whale Route!
Black Bear – June to September
The black bear, the only member of the bear family other than the polar bear, to inhabit Québec, is found in most of Québec’s forests. Observation of this omnivore in its natural habitat, a rigorously supervised activity, is possible at the Réserve faunique des Laurentides, the Station Touristique Duchesnay (near Québec City), and near Montebello in the Outaouais region. Please click here to view our Bear Viewing Package.
Moose – all year round
Moose, the largest members of the cervid (deer) family, is another fairly common sight in Québec. The Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, 45 minutes north of Québec City, organises moose-watching safaris. Further east, the Réserve faunique de Matane in the Gaspésie, which has the greatest concentration of moose in Québec, offers a range of activities to facilitate observation, including an interpretation centre, wildlife observation tours, trails and salt licks. The park also offers guided activities and holiday packages, all in the interest of getting visitors acquainted with this majestic, iconic animal.
Caribou – all year round
The Baie-James and Nunavik regions are home to massive herds of caribou: nearly one million in total. Known as “reindeer” in Europe and Asia, these elegant creatures roam far and wide throughout the year over vast tracts of land. Exceptionally, a few dozen or so may be observed further south in the higher reaches of the Parc national des Grands-Jardins (Charlevoix), and in the Parc national de la Gaspésie, where they coexist with deer and moose.
Beaver - all year round
The beaver’s lodges and dams are easy enough to spot, but the animal itself remains somewhat retiring. However, it is not uncommon to meet a beaver or two in the course of a canoeing or kayaking trip. With any luck, you can stumble upon this industrious little creature at many of Québec’s national parks, including the Jacques-Cartier, Aiguebelle, Pointe-Taillon, Oka and Plaisance parks.