An historic walled city (founded in 1608) in a stunning cliff location, Ville de Quebec is the capital of the province and a fine France substitute for North Americans without the time, money or inclination to travel long-haul to the Old World.
Vieux Quebec, the old town’s ramparts, fortifications, cobbled streets, picturesque ancient buildings and historic home-museums are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evocative of a distant Europe and perfectly walkable, especially the Terrasse Dufferin promenade high over the river with its charming cafés, gazebos and sophisticated, francophile (i. e. they are not too wild about speaking English! ) locals.
Kids love walking the city walls, the funicular ride, the ferry across the river, the endless street performers, while as a romantic destination, especially for a White Christmas, Vieux Quebec is difficult to beat; for a different perspective take a Levis Ferry trip on the St Lawrence River to see a ‘postcard’ view of the city.
Activities in/around Quebec City
Downhill and Cross-country skiing: numerous good slopes/trails less than one hour from Quebec City; many skiers like to commute from the city. See Mont Tremblant lower down this page.
Skating: many long circuits all around, some free. Oct-March.
Biking: Excellent trails in and around the city, some of the best in Canada. Rentals available.
Wildlife: near the city.
January-February, weekends only, La Fete des Neiges (Snow Festival), Montreal, dominated by a huge and labyrinthine snow castle.
June, Montreal Fringe Festival, a lively international theatre event.
June-July, Montreal International Jazz Festival.
July, Just For Laughs, Montreal, a world comedy festival.
August, Montreal Pride, a huge performing arts festival, gay, but not exclusively so. Free concerts, shows, parties conferences and more.
Quebec City Festivals
Late January – February, Quebec City, Quebec Winter Carnival, a vigorous 2 week celebration of parades, themed parties, ice sculptures and, bien sur, winter sports of every description.
July, Festival d’Eté International, two weeks of all kinds of music, much of it free.
End July-early August, Quebec Musical Firework Competition.
Activities in/around Montreal
Winter sports: lots of cross-country ski areas, snowshoeing areas, toboggan runs and alpine ski slopes at Mont Tremblant (see below).
Skating: very big in this city of champion ice hockey teams. There are around 200 open-air rinks in the city.
Walks/hikes: Plenty of these too when weather permits.
Jogging: Many paved trails.
Biking: Montreal has a network of around 100 miles of dedicated bike trails. Rentals available. Montreal has 400 miles of bike and skate paths.
In-line skaters (roller blades): Popular, especially in Vieux-Port area. Rentals available.
Wildlife: near the city, see below
Mont Tremblant National Park in the summer season. Photo by Stephane Duquesne.
Just 1. 5 hour’s drive from Montreal (75 miles/120 kms) in the Laurentian Mountains Mont Tremblant National Park is east Canada’s biggest sports/recreation destination, summer or winter, packed with all the usual activities (including dog sledding, ice climbing, zip lines, but skiing is #1) as well as spas, golf courses, and a casino. Mont Tremblant also has an airport with direct flights from Toronto and New York City. More.
The vast Saguenay Region (picturesque villages, fjords, rivers, lakes and mountains) a short distance north of Quebec City and favourite escape chute for city folk also provides a lot of adrenalin action both in winter and summer. A gorgeous bike route around Lake Saint-Jean, the Blueberry Cycling Route (Veloroute des Bleuets) is an outstanding attraction.