Although Québec’s mixed heritage and geographical location has made it largely bi-lingual, French remains the clear the language of choice, and there are several types of French language course available in the city. Anyone who chooses to take a language course there will be spoilt for choice when it comes to free-time activities, but here are our recommendations for ten great ways to fill your time.
1. Take a walk around Vieux Québec (Old Québec)
The historic part of Québec City dates back to the 17th Century. The upper part, referred to as ‘Upper Town’ (Haute-ville) is walled with ramparts and makes Québec the only remaining walled city north of Mexico in the Americas.
The lower part of the old city, referred to as ‘Lower Town’ (Basse-ville), contains the historic church Notre-Dame des Victoires and a variety of shopping options in very old and attractive buildings.
2. Visit the Morrin Centre
Built over 200 years ago as the city’s first prison, this unique place now contains one of the world’s most beautiful libraries. Visitors can walk through jail cells and browse the array of books in the attractive Victorian library. The centre also stages various productions, concerts, readings and lectures, many of which are in English.
3. Go to see the Basilique Cathedrale – Notre-Dame-de-Québec
Originally built in 1647, the Basilica-Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec has twice been destroyed by fire, but always rebuilt on its original site. Guests can take guided tours of the basilica and its crypt, which is the final resting place of former bishops of the Québec diocese and four Québec governors.
Schedules for self-guided visits and guided visits vary based on season and day, but entrance to the Basilica-Cathedral is free.
4. Head out to the Montmorency Falls Park/Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
Located just a few minutes from Old Québec, the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is a fantastic place to visit. There are numerous things to see there, including the elegant Manoir Montmorency and a waterfall that is actually one-and-a-half times higher than Niagara Falls! There’s also a cable car which offers stunning views over the city.
5. Visit the Chateau Frontenac
The Chateau Frontenac is probably Québec City’s most iconic landmark. Designed by architect Bruce Price for the Canadian Pacific Railway company, the hotel opened in 1893 and has since become the most photographed hotel in the world. It is now part of the prestigious Fairmont group, but you don’t have to be a guest to go in and take a look around.
6. Explore the Quartier du Petit Champlain
Set at the foot of the cliff below Chateau Frontenac, this area dates back to the mid-17th century, and is said to be the oldest commercial district in North America. With its narrow streets and unique boutiques, galleries and bistros, it’s an attractive area which is particularly nice to visit in the winter.
7. Take in some lovely views from the Terrasse Dufferin
Terrasse Dufferin is a beautiful terrace along the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, built in 1879 under the direction of Lord Dufferin. The walkway extends for a long way down the St. Lawrence River, and offers stunning views of the city and the river. In the summer months the terasse becomes a hub for street entertainers, giving it an extra buzz.
8. Visit the Citadel
Located on the heights of Cap-Aux-Diamants overlooking the St. Lawrence River, the Citadel of Québec is a fortified enclosure of 37 acres built in a star-shaped plan. It is a military installation and official residence and is part of the fortifications of Québec City.
9. Discover the Musée de la Civilisation
Located close to Place Royale, in the old part of the city, this museum is known as an innovative and unique place where the focus is on participation and interaction. There, you’ll get a dynamic outlook on all of human experience in its whole, and on civilizations from all over the world.
10. Go to the Plains of Abraham (Battlefields Park)
The Plains of Abraham lie to the west of the old city overlooking the St Lawrence River. It’s a historic area where the Battle of the Plains of Abraham took place in 1759, in which the British defeated the French for control of the city.
In 1908, the law creating the National Battlefields Commission (NBC) was sanctioned to highlight and preserve this site, unique in the world not only because of its size and geographic location, but also because of its historical role. The Battlefields Park, which groups together the Plains of Abraham and the Des Braves Park, was developed in memory of both French and British soldiers and these days offers a vast and pleasant space for inhabitants and visitors to enjoy.