Jess, aged 15, writes: We have just returned from a trip to Eastern Canada, where we spent two days in Quebec City. The city is simply gorgeous; steeped with history, lots to do, and stunning views. Despite being very busy, our trip still felt very relaxing. We all had a really good time in Quebec City – here’s what we recommend:
What to do
Jess says: We took an open top bus tour around the entirety of Quebec City, and we really enjoyed it. We passed all of the major sights, including the Citadel, Musée de la civilisation, and the walls of the city, and thought it was generally a useful, clear, and informative introduction to the city. The tour lasted for about one and a half hours, and we listened to the information through headphones.
Another tour we all really enjoyed was the boat cruise through the St Lawrence river. This lasted for about 90 minutes, and the views of the city were simply lovely. We passed the Montmorency waterfalls and the Isle d’ Orleans, and the sun glistened in the water below us. A man dressed in period costume as Louis Joillet narrated our journey and told us lots of stories about the city, making the trip even more enjoyable. The boat was spacious and the journey was smooth, and it was a relaxing, stress-free way to spend the afternoon. We’d definitely recommend this.
Robert, aged 12, writes: My favourite part of the whole holiday was not a tourist attraction, nor was it a good shop or a ride. It was the fountains. Scattered around the city were sections which held loads of fountains that continuously sprayed water in different patterns. The height and order of the water jets was always changing, making it fun and unpredictable. I spent a long time in the fountains and had a fantastic time.
Sarah says: The Musée de la civilisation is a vast, rather beautiful looking museum with both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Robert particularly enjoyed an interactive exhibition on cats and dogs. Activities involved an agility course, a jumping test, working out the emotions of animal noises, cat and dog “Guess Who?”, and multiple quizzes.
Brian and I learnt a lot and were very moved by the First Nations exhibit which gives the history of the indigenous people of Canada and brings their stories right up to date. It’s a very thoughtful permanent exhibit, which we would definitely recommend.
Do check out the other exhibits too, particularly “People of Quebec: Then and Now” as it is just so interesting about this part of Canada, and the jobs, lives, history and culture of the people who lived here in the past, and now.
Brian says: We really enjoyed our visit to the small Fort Museum (Musee du Fort), which was very near the Tourist Information Centre and the Chateau Frontenac hotel. This is a 30 minute film alongside a large scale model of the city and the surrounding area. It shows the many attacks on the city over the years – how it was defended by the French, eventually defeated by the British, and then defended against the Americans. The relevant parts of the model (eg the ships, and the soldiers on the battlefield) light up in synch with the storyline accompanied by sound effects. It is not exactly high tech, and the model looks a bit dated, but it had lots of retro charm and was very informative.
Jess writes: The Musée de la Place-Royale is situated right in the centre of Old Quebec. It is a small museum dedicated to the history of New France and the Place Royal, and is very well done. We began with the interactive exhibition aimed at younger families: a room decorated as though we were in the 1800s Place Royale. We had a lot of fun trying on costumes, and especially loved dressing up as nuns! Next came the video about Samuel de Champlain; the “Father of New France”. We all agreed that this was a bit strange, as it did not act as a preface to the museum or give us any information. Finally, we walked upstairs to the exhibitions. We learnt about life in the Place Royal, saw artefacts, watched films, and played games. We all enjoyed the museum. It was very well done, interesting, and had lots of interactive activities.
What to see
Sarah writes: Quebec City is gorgeous – and very easy – to walk around. I think that’s one of the things we really loved about our trip, the ability to mooch about, look into the shops and cafes and not have to take transport everywhere. There is a funicular which you can use to go between the upper and lower parts of the city, but we only used it once, as the walk is not very long either (and you don’t have to queue to walk!). Do explore, as there are statues and monuments all over, not to mention delicious creperies, ice cream and tea shops, not to mention some fine churches. I particularly enjoyed going up on the ramparts which enclose the old city, so seeing it from high, and walking along the promenade by the famous Le Château Frontenac hotel.
Brian says: One of the highlights of our trip to Quebec City was going to the Citadelle to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony. We saw the “new” guard relieve the “old” one with lots of precision marching, a military brass band, and almost stealing the show, the regiment’s ceremonial mascot, a very well-groomed and incredibly cute goat named Batisse.
The soldiers looked very similar to the ones at Buckingham Palace, dressed in their red uniforms and wearing bearskin hats, but you definitely get a lot closer to the action and the orders are being shouted in French. The ceremony only lasted around 30 minutes, and we had to get up quite early as it started at 10am, but it was really worth it. There is also a museum which you can explore.
The Changing of the Guard takes place near the Plains of Abraham, which is a huge green historic park (site of a battle between the French and English in the 18th century). You can wander around and enjoy some magnificent views here.
Robert says: One of the highlights of our holiday in Canada for me was the circus show we saw, which was called Crepuscule, and which runs every summer (tickets are free). There was gymnastics, roller-skating and trampolining as well as so many other things. People climbed up poles and catapulted themselves upwards and a lot of it looked really dangerous whilst other bits were really elegant and captivating. There were so many different sections of the show, from jumping through hoops to spinning in giant ones, it was brilliant.
Where to eat
Robert writes: We all loved going to Chocolato, a very unique ice-cream shop near our hotel. As well as the flavours and toppings, there were also 20 dipping choices, with the selection ranging from popping candy, to cookies and cream to classic milk chocolate. Once you had your ice-cream, you picked a sauce which your ice-cream was then covered in. Shortly afterwards. the chocolate would become hard, encasing your ice-cream in a delicious, chocolatey shell. It was really nice and we may have gone back again once or twice!
Jess says: There were lots of shops selling snacks, and three of our favourites were Mary’s Popcorn Shop, Delices Erable & Cie, and La Fudgerie. Mary’s Popcorn Shop sells fresh popcorn in a variety of flavours, and they make it right in front of you. The smell enticed us into the shop, and we decided to try the “Chicago style” – a mix of caramel and cheese flavour. Delices Erable & Cie is a maple syrup shop serving ice-cream, maple syrup, sweets, and more. We tried samples of maple syrup, liquor, and maple taffy, and it was delicious. Finally, La Fudgerie sells a variety of different flavours of fudge. Mum and I loved the fudge filled ice-cream cones, which were simply scrumptious.
Jess says: In conclusion, Quebec City was a really great place to visit with the family. We tried a really large range of activities, and had a lot of fun. As with the rest of Canada, it was very clean and easy to navigate, and the locals were extremely friendly. If only we could have spent some more time there!
Disclosure: We were fortunate to be helped in our trip by Quebec City Tourism and Quebec Original, which enabled us to try out some activities free or at a reduced price. However, neither they, nor any of the places we visited, had any input into this blog post. Please visit their websites for more on this wonderful city and region.