For those travelers in search of a little France atmosphere in North America, book flights to Quebec City and vacation in the conservative, yet cultured capital city of Quebec. Quebec City was the first noteworthy settlement in Canada and is larger in size than the country’s neighboring Alaska.
Quebec City is located above the St. Lawrence River and the décor and design of the city even looks French. Travelers booking flights to Quebec City will find the province to be almost entirely French in spirit, culture and language. In fact, about 95 percent of its residents speak French.
Quebec City is a walled city and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 – the only area in North America to receive the title.
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Summer temperatures range between 50 and 86 degrees (Fahrenheit), while winter temperatures plummet to between 23 degrees (Fahrenheit) to below freezing at -13 degrees (Fahrenheit). Quebec City and its people make the most of the winter weather by whooping it up with Winter Carnival -- lots of skiing, an Ice Hotel and toboggan rides past the swankiest hotel in town.
Best Time to Fly to Quebec
Late June to September is when the principal summer festivals are on: the Summer Festival (July 8-18), the International Firework Festival (July 24-August 11); and the New France Celebrations (August 4-8). Another good tip for American tourists is to visit when there is a holiday weekend south of the border – Memorial Day or Thanksgiving for example – it’s business as usual in Canada.
November to April, unless you are a skier (see below for details on the four resorts close to the city) or wish to enjoy the Winter Carnival.
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Getting around Quebec
To best see Quebec, you’ll want to walk or take a bike tour through one of the city’s historic sections. In the summer you can explore the Route Verte, a network of cycling trails connecting 16 regions and 320 municipalities. Public buses run by Réseau de transport de la Capitale operate between 6am and 1am. On the weekend you can catch a night bus. To get from Basse-Ville to the upper part of Old Quebec, take the funicular.
Quebec Travel Information
- Quebec transforms into a winter wonderland for its Winter Carnival (January 26-February 11). The snowy season is celebrated with parades, snow sculptures, an ice palace, snow rafting, dogsledding and an old-fashioned marketplace with greeters in period costume. The mascot is Bonhomme Carnaval, a cheery snowman who wears traditional garb.
- There are four large ski resorts close to Quebec City. Mont-Sainte-Anne has 64 ski trails on three mountain sides and the highest vertical elevation for night skiing in Canada. It is a half-hour drive from the city. Stoneham with 32 trails on four mountains is a mere 20-minute drive. Le Relais is even closer – a 15-minute drive. Le Massif is 45 minutes east of the city.
- Higher than Niagara Falls, Montmorency Falls are in a provincial park at the mouth of the Montmorency River where it falls over the cliff into the Saint Lawrence River. Viewing is from a footbridge, cable car or viewing platform. Just a few miles from the falls in Lac St. Joseph's Station Touristique Duchesnay, 30 minutes west of downtown Quebec is the Ice Hotel (January-April) made of 500 tons of ice and 15,000 tons of snow. Inside the hotel it is a toasty -2° to –5° Celsius.
- Quirky ways to get around include tobogganing past the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. A four-person toboggan costs $8 per run ($2 per person) between December and mid-March (11am to 11pm). See old Quebec from the Funicular, which offers a direct link between Dufferin Terrace, le quartier Petit-Champlain, la Place Royale and the harbor area. Climb the 170 Breakneck Steps (Escalier Casse-Cou) which link the Upper Town and Lower Town.
- Edifice Marie-Guyart, a government office, is Quebec City’s highest building. There is a public, indoor observatory at 750 feet above sea level that offers unrestricted views of the city. Admission costs $4 and guided tours are available.
- Witness the changing of the guard, hear the music and see Batisse, the regimental goat, at La Citadelle. The guards change every morning (between June 24 and the first Monday in September) at 10am. Admission costs about $10.