Around every corner, down every wilderness trail, along every cobblestoned street, is a spot of beauty. And a very unique Québec state of mind. One of Canada’s largest provinces, la belle province
is known for its deep traditions rooted in centuries of French history and culture. It touches and transforms everything from culinary traditions to kick-up-your-heels festivals, to songs and music, and the joie de vivre
that is the trademark of the province.
Passion is in the air. Visitors will find an irresistible tableau
of experiences, sights and emotions that will spark the beginning of a love affair with the province. Those in search of tasty treasures will find it along culinary trails, in markets and on dinner plates in bistros, inns and five-star restaurants.
It is easy to fall madly in love with the French history and heart-warming traditions of the people and their communities. It is found in the warm smiles of the people, from cities to towns to villages and along country roads. Embrace the beauty. Embrace Québec’s culture and history. Experience its people and pride.
QUÉBEC: THE SEASONS FILL THE SENSES
Across the calendar, there are seasons for the senses. There’s warmth, an energy and spark that blankets the province. Québecers love to celebrate by filling their days and weeks with special events and festivals. It’s their way to mark pride and joy in their unique heritage and, happily, doors are wide open to visitors.
The Québec Winter Carnival—the world’s largest—anchors the wintertime with its snow slides, ice sculptures and canoe race on the frozen St. Lawrence River. Across the province, they pay homage to the cooler seasons—from Polar Nights (Les Nuits Polaires) in Trois-Rivières to Le Massif Fall Colourfest in the Charlevoix region, and all points between.
Everywhere, Québec’s National Holiday is celebrated on June 24th with shows, parades, bonfires and fireworks. When the sun shines and the air is warm, there are music festivals—Montréal International Jazz Festival (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal), Québec City Summer Festival (Festival d’été de Québec) and many others—as well as cultural festivals, including the Just for Laughs Festival (Juste pour rire) and the New France Festival (Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France).
(NATURAL) WONDERS NEVER CEASE
Québec is a landscape of superlatives easily explored throughout the entire year.
Summertime is glorious in both the cities and the countryside. It’s the perfect time to visit pick-your-own farms, follow the province’s food trails, or become immersed in the unspoiled wilderness by hiking, climbing and paddling. There is something for everyone who is drawn to the outdoors.
Two-wheelers take to la Route verte, a 5,300-km (3,293-mi.) web of cycling and multi-use paths that criss-cross the province, creating the largest cycling network in the Americas.
As the seasons peak, autumn brings a dramatic splash of colour to the hardwood forests and springtime follows with the sweetness of maple syrup. A large percent of the world’s maple syrup is produced in Québec, making its many sugar shacks a popular springtime destination for samples of just-boiled syrup and treats like traditional maple syrup taffy.
When the snowflakes fall, the people of Québec embrace the natural wonder of wintertime. Snowmobiling, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and dogsledding are just the tip of the iceberg. Québecers celebrate hockey like no other spot on earth—the Montréal Canadiens are the oldest hockey team in the world that has played without interruption.
And, after muscles have had a workout—at any time of the year—it’s time to relax and recharge at one of the province’s many wellness centres and spas.
FROM THE FAMILY FARM TO THE TABLE
There’s a deep connection between land and people—from the soil that produces a breadbasket of crops and the dedicated farmers who create this magic. Visitors can connect along one of Québec’s gastronomic trails that link the harvest of the countryside with the markets of the cities. The trails are known for craft cheese producers, small production vintners, local growers and specialty producers. Exploring the trails is a way to meet the people who create the province’s signature products, from foie gras
to sweet maple syrup.
The Farmlands Route (Chemin du Terroir) loops through the countryside, with stops at producers of wines and ciders, maple goods, fresh-picked apples and Québec’s famous fromageries
The Gourmet Route (Le Parcours gourmand) connects restaurants and artisan producers in the greater Québec City area, including those on historic Île d’Orléans, famous for pick-your-own berries in the height of summer.
The Charlevoix Flavour Trail (La Route des Saveurs) links local growers, producers and restaurateurs who produce and serve re-
gional products such as ciders, artisan beers, pâtés
, cheeses, spices and fine chocolates.
Grape growers and vintners—and many bistros and restaurants—are a part of The Wine Route (La Route des vins) that winds through the pretty Eastern Townships.
EXPLORING THE POWER OF PLACE
One of the province’s unique features is a very European sensibility when it comes to the intersection of art, culture and history. Across the province—but especially in the large metropolitan centres of Montréal and Québec City—there is a wealth of museums, galleries and special exhibits. The smaller, rural areas showcase what is unique in artistic hubs like Sherbrooke and Baie-Saint-Paul. In both city and countryside, heritage settings often provide the backdrop for the richness of the arts.
In 2015, Huttopia Nature Getaways opened its first Québec resort in the Eastern Townships. The company is known for a range of unique, outdoor and nature-themed adventure experiences to reconnect with nature, paired with accommodation and services for a variety of comfort levels—from rugged tenting to lodgings in cosy cabins (canada.huttopia.com/en
In the heart of Old Québec City, the new Le Monastère des Augustines is a sanctuary where guests experience holistic packages designed to promote health, rest, renewal and self-discovery. The unique setting immerses guests in the rich heritage of the Augustinian Sisters (www.monastere.ca/en
Once an exclusive neo-Renaissance social club, founded in 1926 in Montréal’s Gold Square Mile, a little bit of history is being transformed into the Hôtel Mount Stephen, a spectacular boutique hotel distinguished by a unique façade
Montréal takes full advantage of being at a cultural crossroads, from its Anglo and francophone heritage to a more recent infusion of people from afar. A hotbed of innovation, the city abounds with theatre and dance, music and circus arts, and museums and art galleries showcasing everything from cutting-edge works to timeless classics. The city’s underground system of pedestrian corridors, RESO, connects metro stations and corridors filled with boutiques and small shops.
Montréal is renowned for its lively summer gatherings—from jamming sessions to dance fests. In cool contrast, take in a concert at Old Montréal’s Notre-Dame Basilica, a neo-Gothic masterpiece with marvellous acoustics (www.basiliquenddm.org/en
). Or visit the quays of the Old Port on foot or by Segway, where performances range from reggae to harbour symphonies created with ships’ horns.
Year-round, chic prevails in Old Montréal’s clubs, trendy bistros and the free-spirited Latin Quarter’s cocktail bars. In fact, the entire city teems with bars, discos, microbreweries, cigar lounges, cafés and outdoor terraces.
On a smaller scale, Québec City has all kinds of music clubs, funky bars and boîtes à chansons
(intimate venues for Québec’s singer-songwriters). Night owls should head for rue Saint-Jean, Grande Allée and Avenue Cartier, or venture down to one of many nightspots in Nouvo Saint-Roch, an old industrial neighbourhood with a new and trendy look.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Outdoor enthusiasts can soak up Québec’s untamed wilderness by visiting the province’s numerous parks. With thousands of crystal-clear lakes and an impressive range of wildlife, they are idyllic for camping, canoeing, fishing, cycling, mountain biking and hiking. In winter, the guarantee of snow creates a paradise for downhill and cross-country skiing, dogsledding and snowshoeing (www.sepaq.com
Every August the sky becomes a canvas for the shooting stars of the Perseid meteor showers, and in Tremblant they mark the occasion with a family-friendly event, Tremblant Beneath the Stars (www.tremblant.ca
Spectacular sightlines are the norm at about 300 Québec public golf courses. One of the most challenging is Le Géant
at Mont Tremblant, a master’s 18-hole championship course carved out of the Laurentian landscape.
In those same Laurentian Mountains north of Montréal, Le P’tit Train du Nord Linear Park is a former railroad track converted into a 230-km (143-mi.) level biking trail—and a cross-country ski trail in winter—between Saint-Jérôme and Mont-Laurier (www.laurentides.com/en
). It serves up one magnificent panorama after another.
Whale watching from Tadoussac, Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Rivière-du-Loup, gets visitors close to nature with sightings of minke, humpback and even the rare blue whale, as do boat cruises from the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula to the seabird sanctuary at Bonaventure Island (www.quebecmaritime.ca
HERITAGE AND CULTURE
Visitors to Old Montréal are captivated by its atmospheric stone buildings, museums and monuments, dating back to the 17th century. Many have been converted into chic restaurants, outdoor cafés, boutiques and art galleries.
Québec City is the only walled city north of Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a textbook of 17th and 18th century architecture. Begin with a visit to Battlefields Park, also known as the Plains of Abraham, the site of pivotal clashes between French and English forces (www.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca ). The cobblestone streets of the Old City are best explored on foot, a perfect setting for strolling and window shopping. Catch the view from the Dufferin Terrace overlooking the St. Lawrence River, or stop for tea at Le Château Frontenac, the world’s most photographed hotel (www.quebecregion.com
Nighttime takes on new dimensions at Foresta Lumina in the Eastern Townships—a night-illuminated pathway along one of the province’s most popular walking trails, including across North America’s longest suspension footbridge (www.forestalumina.com/en
The Québec Aboriginal Tourism Corporation provides a wide range of information on everything from food and lodging to arts and outdoor adventures (www.quebecaboriginal.com
MUST SEE, MUST DO
The region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is well known for its premier biking routes, including the Véloroute des Bleuets (Blueberry Route) encircling a scenic lake (www.veloroute-bleuets.qc.ca/en
Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships, is a centre for outdoor lovers who want to sample Fatbikes—specially designed bicycles with wide tires, making it easy to tackle snowy surfaces (www.destinationsherbrooke.com
In the Gaspésie region, Plongée Forillon and Auberge Griffon Aventure provide unforgettable experiences swimming with harbour seals, starfish and lobster (www.plongeeforillon.com
Piknic Électronik’s outdoor events offer music enthusiasts a chance to enjoy summertime weather, a stunning view of Montréal and quality electronic tunes every Sunday from May through September (www.piknicelectronik.com/en
Hiking along the steep banks of Sainte-Anne Canyon is a firsthand introduction to the history, geology, flora and fauna of the Charlevoix region (www.canyonsa.qc.ca/en
Explore the rich history of the Huron-Wendat Nation at the Huron-Wendat Museum, 15 minutes from Québec City. Have an authentic Huron-Wendat experience by spending the night in the longhouse! (www.tourismewendake.ca
Dominated by mountain peaks soaring to nearly 1,200 m (4,000 ft.), the Eastern Townships’ 157-km (98-mi.) Summit Drive follows the region’s highest points, revealing one gorgeous panorama after another.
Forged by glaciers, the 235-km (146-mi.) Fjord Route follows the winding Saguenay River, offering a never-ending show of imposing rock faces and majestic capes.
Route du Richelieu’s historic 230-km (143-mi.) transportation road traces the lovely Richelieu River, encompassing historic villages, archaeological digs, museums, heritage churches and bucolic landscapes.
The 260-km (160-mi.) King’s Road (Chemin du Roy) is Canada’s oldest roadway, linking Québec City to Montréal along the St. Lawrence River’s spectacular north shore.
Québec overflows with year-round family fun! As an example, in the Outaouais region July is Family Month, with a full menu of activities round the clock. Museums in Gatineau and Ottawa, indoor tube sliding and rock climbing, cycling and wildlife parks offer something for every member of the family (www.tourismeoutaouais.com/en-ca
PARK PICK: LA MAURICIE NATIONAL PARK
The landscape of La Mauricie National Park north of Shawinigan is a quilt of forests, rock and lakes typical of the rugged Canadian Shield. It is an outdoor lover’s dream: wilderness lakes and streams for kayaking and canoe camping; trails for hiking and mountain biking in summer and snowshoeing in winter; and natural pools for a quick dip to cool off. The Parks Canada family-friendly oTENTiks (canvas roof and walls on a wooden frame and floor) sleep five and are equipped with solar lights, barbecue, firepit, lantern and wood stove. Some are open year round (www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/qc/mauricie/index.aspx
More info on National Parks and Historic Sites: www.pc.gc.ca