Situated at the eastern end of Canada is the sprawling province of Quebec. The second-largest administrative area in the country, this predominantly French-speaking area of more than eight million residents is rich in history, deep in culture, varied in diversity, and plentiful in attractions.
Because of its topography and geographical location, much of the province is sparsely populated. Still, la belle province (French for “the beautiful province,” as it is known), offers an impressive menu of things to do, see, and experience. Here are a few.
Old Town Quebec
The second-largest city in the province, Quebec City is about 143 miles (230 kilometers) northeast from Montreal, Quebec’s most populated city and metropolitan area. The capital city of the province, Quebec City sits on the St. Lawrence as the river begins to narrow.
Within Quebec City is an area known as Vieux-Quebec, or in English, Old Quebec. This historic portion of the city is the only existing walled and fortified city in North America. Visitors will be enthralled and enchanted with its cobblestone streets and European flare and feel. Old Quebec is bustling with shops, restaurants, and charm. Here, you can also check out the Citadelle of Quebec, a military installation constructed in 1673.
Outside the wall of Old Town, a must-see is the famed hotel Chateau Frontenac. This massive castle-like structure boasts more than 600 rooms on 18 floors. It is known for having accommodated dignitaries and political figures from around the globe.
Quebec has more than one million lakes and waterways, though many of these are tiny and have not been named. Perhaps the most notable Quebec lake is Lac Saint-Jean, located in the breathtaking Saguenay region of the province, 126 miles (203 kilometers) northwest of Quebec City. If you’re visiting Quebec in the summertime, this is an appealing destination, especially if you’re an outdoors fanatic.
Lac Saint-Jean offers gorgeous, picturesque views and provides opportunities for canoeing, fishing, rock climbing, and for simply taking a scenic stroll on the banks of the 27-mile-long lake. Wildlife enthusiasts may even spot black bears, moose, wolves, caribou, Canada geese, and peregrine falcons. Also near the lake are generous numbers of lodging options and places to eat, not to mention Saint-Félicien Zoo and Pointe-Taillon National Park.
Authentic Quebec food
Speaking of eating, no one can visit Quebec and feel justified without at least sampling the local food scene. Probably the most unique and famous Quebecois dish is poutine, a palate-pleasing dish that consists of French fries liberally smothered with cheese curds and a gravy-like sauce. Just about every restaurant in the province will serve this tantalizing delight. You can even pick up a packet of sauce mix from a grocery store or convenience store and stir up your own concoction.
Less than a two-hour drive northeast from Quebec City, up the St. Lawrence River on the north shore, you’ll find the artist’s wonderland known as Charlevoix. Quebecois and visitors alike will flock to the eye-pleasing landscape and peaceful environment this region boasts. You’ll be swept away by the rolling hills, fjords, and bays. The area is ideal for skiing, snowboarding, and sledding in the winter; whale watching in the spring; hiking, biking, camping, or kayaking in the summer; and gazing at the brilliant colors dotting the countryside in the fall.
A comprehensive list is difficult to compile, but if time permits, make sure to visit these sites:
- Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal
- Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal
- Montmorency Falls, Quebec City
- Gatineau Park, Gatineau
- Forillon National Park, Gaspe
- Canyon Sainte-Anne, Beaupre
Feature photo by Drew Coffman. cc