The 18th- and 19th-century military fortifications of Quebec City are remarkably well-kept, making Quebec the only city in North America with standing city walls. The current star-shaped fortifications date to the 19th century and were built by the British to repel a possible American invasion. Fans of military regalia will enjoy the Citadelle’s daily changing of the guard ceremonies at 10am.
Outside the city walls along the river is the Plains of Abraham Battlefield Park, where in 1759 British forces defeated the French, laying claim to what remained of French North America. The park is now used for public events, sports, and leisure. In the winter, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on paths along the St. Lawrence River’s edge.
Quebec’s national museum is primarily dedicated to displaying fine art by Quebecois and Inuit artists from all periods but also includes temporary exhibits of international artists. Major Quebec artists on display include Jean-Paul Riopelle and Armand Vaillancourt. The building that houses the museum is also of note for being the city’s former jail.
Built more than 100 years ago on a high bluff over the St Lawrence River, the Chateau Frontenac is one of Quebec’s most recognizable landmarks and one of the world’s most beautiful luxury hotels. The turreted castle-like hotel even claims the Guinness record for “most photographed hotel in the world.” It also offers sweeping views over the old city and the river valley. If you’re not staying, you can arrange a tour of the hotel and finish it off with a drink at the hotel bar – one of the city’s ritziest.
The Chateau isn’t the only hotel of interest; if you’re visiting from January to April, you should check out the Ice Hotel, which is exactly what it says it is – a luxury hotel built out of blocks of ice, with each of its themed rooms decorated with ice sculptures. Tours are available if you’re not planning to stay and the “ice bar” serves drinks in ice glasses. The Ice Hotel is 30 min outside of the city in picturesque Duchesnay on St Joseph Lake.
The historic old town of Quebec is centered on Place Royale, where Samuel de Champlain founded France’s first North American settlement in 1608. It’s now a lovely public square, home to heritage architecture, murals, and an interpretive centre dedicated to Champlain’s “habitation.”