The Province of Quebec is the second most populous region of Canada and is predominantly French-speaking. The European influence on this area is visible in both the elegant architecture of the cities like Montreal and Quebec City as well as the cultural sights and cuisine available. The beautiful landscape of the province and multicultural cities ensure any trip to Quebec is a memorable one. Quebec is great any time of year and with everything from its fantastic national parks to its thriving metropolises, it is guaranteed to appeal to every kind of visitor. Quebec is the largest province in Canada by area, and with every kind of landscape on offer, from coast to tundra, it lends itself perfectly to road trips. Pick up your car after your flight to Toronto and see how many attractions you could tick off your bucket list.
The province of Quebec is famed for its rich cultural heritage. Its major cities of Montreal and Quebec City are vibrant and cosmopolitan, with influences from across the globe. The predominant cultural influence in the Province is French, which lends the area its unique charm and stunning architecture. The cities are filled with world-class museums like La Citadelle de Quebec and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. When you visit, you can learn all about the Province’s patchwork history, from native First Nations, Algonquin and Iroquois peoples to European settlers.
The Biodome – Montreal
As important as the Eden Project in Cornwall, the Biodome in Montreal is an oasis in the heart of Montreal. The attraction allows you to explore four of the ecosystems prevalent in the Americas: tropical rainforest, Laurentian maple forest, The Gulf of St Lawrence and sub-polar regions. Not only does the biodome allow visitors to unleash their inner ecologist, it is also a hub of scientific research. From advancing entomological knowledge to housing the University of Montreal’s Biodiversity Centre, the biodome is at the cutting edge of ecological research.
Unfortunately the Biodome will be closed for much of 2018, however, it will be reopening at the end of the year.
Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a living piece of history. With treasures like the Notre-Dame-de-Quebec Basilica and Chateau Frontenac, the walled city exudes European charm and tells the history of France’s hopes of territory in the Americas. With buildings dating back to the 1600s, it is truly atmospheric come rain or shine. Head over to Quartier Petit Champlain for some shopping among the boutiques selling local items.
Summer Outdoor Activities
Summer in Quebec is truly the time to get out and enjoy the incredible landscape of the area such as the St Lawrence River, which dominates the ecosystem of the region and is beautiful to visit. It is a great time of year to get out on the water and enjoy some of Canada’s most famous visitors – the whales. Beluga, humpback, sperm, minke and even the occasional blue whale frequent the waters around Quebec and whale watching boat trips are popular with locals and visitors alike. Don’t miss out on some of the great National Parks in the area that includes Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay and Parc National du Bic.
Montmorency Falls is Quebec’s answer to Niagara Falls, though, at 99 feet higher than their famous neighbours, they offer a spectacular view. Just under 20 miles from Quebec City, this is a sight not to be missed. The falls are 276 feet high, making them the highest in the region. They are named after Henri II, duc de Montmorency who was the viceroy of New France between 1620 and 1625 and is also mentioned in a poem by John Keats.
In the summer, enjoy the zip line that lets two people simultaneously cross the cove of the falls. If you have a head for heights, three via ferrata routes have been built near the falls and allow for stunning views of the cove. For those who would rather keep their feet on the ground, there are two bike paths through the path that offer some challenging terrain. For the best views of the falls, hike or take the cable car up to the viewing bridge at the top, where you can stand right above the thundering falls.
Caroline from the Armelle Blog described her experience at Montmorency Falls: “While visiting Quebec City, in Canada, we decided to visit some surrounding areas. Our first stop was Montmorency Falls. The falls were magnificent and very impressive! If you are ever in the Quebec City area, I strongly suggest you go! It was very beautiful and the grounds were very nice to explore! The kids loved it!”
Les Jardin De Metis
What began as a fishing camp has now become one of the premier gardens in Canada thanks to the enterprises of Elsie Redford. Though behind the gardens is a success story of grit and determination starting in 1926, to walk through the modern garden is a beautiful and relaxing experience.
The 45-acre site occupies an enviable position along the beautiful St Lawrence River. It’s not only a Canadian National Historic Site but is a Quebec Heritage Site to boot. The area is split into different sections often devoted to one species. The blue poppy reserve is dedicated to a rare species of Tibetan poppies that Elsie successfully raised in Canadian soil. Les Jardins de Metis is also home to the International Garden Festival which is held in June and is the largest event of its kind in North America and is the home of innovation and experimental garden art.
Canyon Sainte Anne
Canyon Sainte Anne is a steep-sided gorge that offers fantastic views and a step back in time to Canada’s untouched wilderness. Suspension bridges criss-cross the gorge, or for those looking for a higher adrenaline adventure, opt for the high-speed chair ride or via ferrata climbing route, both offering a new perspective on this fabulous slice of Quebec.
Just over half an hour’s drive outside of Quebec City, Saint Anne Canyon is perfect for those looking to stretch their legs with a hike or get out in the lush greenery that the province has to offer.
Winter Outdoor Activities
Quebec has so much to offer in the winter months and is famed across Canada for it snow sports. If you don’t fancy yourself a skier or snowboarder, there is still lots to do across the region. Enjoy the outdoors with traditional dog-sledding and mush a team of huskies through the forests. Tubing is also an extremely popular sport in the area and locals have pushed the limits with a variety of different trails. To truly immerse yourself in the stunning world of ice sculpture, Quebec is home to North America’s only ice hotel, Hotel De Glace, where everything is carved from snow and ice. It also hosts one of the largest winter festivals in Canada, Carnival De Quebec.
Le Massif de Charlevoix
Just under an hour from Quebec City, Le Massif de Charlevoix offers the highest alpine training east of the Rockies and the stunning sea views that await at the bottom of the descent make it suitably picturesque. If you cannot get out to Whistler Blackcomb or Banff during your time in Canada, sharpen your skills in Quebec’s snow sports centre.
The blog Liftopia doesn’t hold back on its praise for this resort: “Le Massif, twenty minutes north of Mont Sainte Anne, is ’Magnifique.’ Owned by Daniel Gauthier, formerly of Cirque du Soleil, this ski resort is a three-ring circus. Fast lifts serve fjord-like skiing as you descend the 2,645 foot vertical down the banks of the St. Lawrence. At Le Massif’s summit is a spectacular mountaintop lodge where you park, start and end your ski day – c’est fantastique. This well-pitched, picture-perfect ski resort in Charlevoix – a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a training ground for the Canadian Ski Team, but also a culinary haven for everyday skiers. No cheeseburgers or fries served at the Summit Lodge – how about duck confit, escargot, fresh pasta, s’il vous plaît!?”
Montreal Botanical Garden
Though many would assume the Botanical Garden would be at its best in the height of summer, the structural and sculpture element of Montreal’s Botanical Garden means that even under a blanket of snow, it looks stunning. Featuring an extensive collection of glasshouses as well as a Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and First Nations Garden, there is a lot to keep every visitor entertained.
The glasshouses are especially welcome during the winter months as they are a respite from the cold, but they are also full of blooms all year round. Wander through a tropical rainforest or a greenhouse dedicated to orchids, despite sub-zero temperatures outside.
Discover the nomadic lifestyle of the Inuit people who lived in the freezing area of Nunavik. The Thule are direct ancestors of the Inuits of the area and followed the rhythms of their landscape living off the land and respecting the fragile ecosystem that is their home.
There are a variety of experiences offered by Nunavik Parks that allow you to explore the landscape and culture of this area, from trekking through the tundra to Lake Tasiujaq to a summer exploring the lakes of Pinguluit National Park. Be sure to experience the unique culture of these remarkable people with a winter dog sledding experience across the beautiful hinterland.
While within the parks, go on the ultimate adventure to Pingualuit Crater Lake. This beautiful lake was formed up to 2.5 million years ago and was created by the impact of a meteor. Pingualuit Crater Lake is one of the deepest lakes in North America and is renowned for holding some of the purest fresh water in the world.
Attractions for Foodies
Though most of Canada is known for its poutine, Quebec has raised it to an art form. With artisan and high-end versions of this cheesy goodness available all over the region, it is not to be missed. Beyond the poutine, Quebec’s French influence can be clearly seen in its cuisine with the occasional Irish twist. The sugar season is one of the oldest culinary traditions in the area and the traditional meal of eggs, beans, ham and bacon covered in lashings of syrup is not to be passed over if you visit in spring. If you visit Montreal, make sure you get a taste of Montreal smoked meat – it’s the Canadian equivalent of NYC’s salt beef bagels. Delicious!
Sucreie de la Montagna – Rigaud
For a truly unique experience in Quebec, head to the Sugar Shack (Sucreie de la Montagne) to experience a Canadian pioneer meal. Open all year round and steeped in tradition, this authentic experience allows guests to watch the historic ‘sugaring off’ process as well as understand how much of Canada is actually built on the maple syrup industry.
Au Pied de Cochon
For a taste of the French roots of Quebec, head to Au Pied de Cochon. This restaurant seamlessly blends produce from the area with a refined French twist; think foie gras poutine and tourtieres (a type of meat pie the region is renowned for). The restaurant has also created their own take on the Sugar Shack, with Cabane a Sucre Au Pied de Cochon offering an elaborate feast of maple syrup products, often incorporating cuisines other than Canadian.
Image Credit: Tony Webster, Datch78 , Montroyaler