Quebec — Attractions
Whether visitors want to soak in Montréal and Québec City’s sophisticated cultures during the day, partake of Montréal’s hedonistic nightlife after dark, or avoid the big cities altogether in favor of the province’s sprawling rural wilderness, Québec has something to offer everyone. From Forillion National Park on the Gaspé Peninsula’s outer tip to the far north’s tundra, Québec’s landscapes are among Canada’s most diverse. One of Québec’s most impressive natural landmarks, the 275 foot high Montmorency Falls, lies just seven and a half miles from Old Québec City.
Old Québec City
Nowhere is Québec’s European influence more evident than in the oldest section of its namesake provincial capital, which French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded at the Place Royale public square in 1608. This makes Québec City the only surviving North American city north of Mexico whose original city walls remain intact. The traditional changing of the guard still occurs at the Citadel each morning, and visitors can easily see the Chateau Frontenac, perhaps the continent’s most photographed hotel, from the Dufferin Terrace. Several of Old Québec City’s shops and restaurants are housed within buildings nearly as old as the city itself, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city is like a journey 400 years back in time.
Address: Québec City
No predominantly French-speaking city outside of Paris boasts a larger population than Québec’s biggest city, multicultural Montréal, whose history is best preserved at Place Jacques Cartier. Each summer, locals and tourists alike congregate at Old Montréal’s central plaza to board horse-drawn carriages, buy flowers, and watch street performers from sidewalk cafés next to 17th and 18th century stone buildings. The stunning 1829 Notre Dame Basilica, a large percentage of Montréal museums, and the city’s vibrant Old Port are all situated in this small city area less than half a mile long.
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
The centerpiece of this Québec national park, only seven and a half miles northeast of Old Québec City, is the towering Montmorency Falls. Towering 275 feet between its own namesake river and the St Lawrence River, Montmorency Falls is nearly 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls. Visitors can admire Montmorency Falls at a distance from the park’s gourmet restaurant or get a more up close and personal look by foot or cable car. The park’s cove lights up after dark.
Address: Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, 2490 Royale Avenue, Québec, QC G1C 1S1
These dozen islands 124 miles northeast of the Gaspé Peninsula are among Québec’s most hidden treasures. Most island residents are descendants of the original Acadian settlers who escaped deportation in 1755 due to the Magdalen Islands’ isolated location and of the people who survived the more than 400 shipwrecks buried beneath the islands. Although the Magdalen Islands, like mainland Québec, are predominantly francophone, some of the province’s oldest anglophone settlements are also situated here. The Magdalen Islands were briefly part of Newfoundland between 1763 and 1774, and are geographically closer to the three Maritime provinces than mainland Québec. The Magdalen Islands’ red cliffs, blue waters, golden beaches, and main industries of tourism and lobster fishing are also similar to those in the Maritime provinces.
Address: Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine, 128 Principal Road, Cap-aux-Meules, QC G4T 1C5
l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park
The ancient limestone monolith of Percé Rock forms a nearly 1,500 foot long backdrop to this national park nearly 40 miles from the town of Gaspé. Visitors can walk to Percé Rock during low tide, although they must avoid walking directly alongside Percé Rock for fear of falling rocks. Nearby Bonaventure Island is home to North America’s biggest colony of northern gannets, 110,000 strong, as well as 250,000 other bird species. Bonaventure Island’s bird colonies and nine miles of hiking trails are only accessible by 75-minute boat excursions.
Address: Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, 4 Rue du Quai, Percé, QC G0C 2L0
Saguenay Fjord National Park
Few North American fjords are as spectacular as this over one billion year old fjord on the shores of its namesake national park. Saguenay Fjord’s impressive 65-mile length exceeds the size of its 62-mile hiking trail network. The park spreads across four Québec regions, a good number of the province’s diverse ecosystems, and welcomed more than 90,000 visitors in 2005, 90 percent of whom arrived from outside the Saguenay-Lac St Jean region. Saguenay Fjord’s deepest point is 890 feet, an impressive sight to see while kayaking in summer and ice fishing in winter. In winter, the park becomes home to 31 miles of cross-country skiing trails. Saguenay Fjord National Park’s three main regions are Baie-Éternité, location of the park’s interpretation center, the beluga whale watching site of Baie-Sainte-Marguerite, and the bird-watching area of Baie du Moulin-à-Baude.
Address: Saguenay Fjord National Park, 91 Notre-Dame, Rivière-Éternité, QC G0V 1P0
Mont-Tremblant National Park
This is the oldest and second-largest of the dozens of national parks operated by Québec’s provincial government, containing a total of six large rivers and 400 smaller bodies of water. Wolves, moose, and whitetail deer are just a few of the 40 mammals which roam around this park’s vast wilderness. Perhaps the park’s most challenging activity is the Via Ferrata Du Diable climb up the Vache Noire rock face. The park stands directly north of the municipality of Mont-Tremblant, situated roughly halfway between Ottawa and Montréal. In summer, the Tremblant Adventure Course’s extreme sports replace skiing as Mont-Tremblant’s most popular activity.
Address: Mont-Tremblant National Park, 4456 Chemin du Lac-Supérieur, Lac-Supérieur, QC J0T 1P0
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
The 40 island Mingan Archipelago stretches 94 miles across the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s north shore. What makes these islands truly unique are their towering limestone monoliths, created after the last Ice Age as the largest monolith group in the country. Whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds far outnumber humans on these secluded islands above the 50th parallel, which offer endless camping and hiking possibilities.
Address: Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Mingan Field Unit, 1340 de la Digue Street, Havre-Saint-Pierre, QC G0G 1P0