This is a guest post by Lyndsey. If you want to guest post on Go Backpacking, please read more here.
My university French professor used to plan a trip to Quebec City every year. He would rent a 15 passenger van and we would start the long 13 hour drive from Pennsylvania to Quebec. Who needs to go all the way to France when Quebec, New France, is right at your own back door? After all, as my professor liked to say, the Quebecois are more French than the French!
He was right. The Quebecois are extremely proud of their history and their French heritage. Even their stop signs say ” ArrÃªt”? whereas in France they have adopted the English sign ” Stop.”? Everywhere you go in Quebec City, you feel like you are smack-dab in the middle of a quaint French city. Shopkeepers will greet you with ” Bonjour,“? cafes serve the best crÃªpes, and cobble stone streets with well preserved examples of European architecture will have you feeling that you really are in France.
Old Quebec, known in French as Vieux Quebec, is divided into two sections: Haute Ville and Basse Ville. The city's dominating landmark, Chateau Frontenac, is the beacon of Haute Ville. It is situated high above the rest of the city and provides a great view over the St. Lawrence River. The Chateau now serves as a deluxe hotel and rooms for the night will cost you a pretty penny.
To descend from Haute Ville to Basse Ville you can brave the very steep stairs leading straight down the hillside. These stairs are known as ” L'Escalier Casse-cou”?, or break-neck stairs. If you aren't feeling as adventurous, you can opt to take the ” Funiculaire”? to the bottom, or back up, for a small fee. Basse Ville is filled with quaint shopping streets, cafes, French restaurants, and my favorite, La Musee de la Civilization. The museum holds a number of interesting exhibits highlighting the development of mankind and other sociologic exhibits. The museum also has a section on Quebec history which might be of interest to you.
If you are interested in Quebec history, check out the ” Plains of Abraham Battlefield Park”? which is located outside the old city wall. The battlefield is the spot where the British took control of Quebec from the French in 1759. I have nothing against visiting battlefields, but remembering my visit to the Plains of Abraham gives me flashbacks of near frostbite in my toes. See, my professor always arranged our yearly trip to Quebec during the winter because hotels rates are lower in the off-season. Well little did I expect that I would be marching around a battle field in two feet of snow.
Luckily, Quebec has excellent cafes and pubs to defrost in. I advise visiting in the springtime and leave ample time to simply walk around and explore the city. There are unique shops and great French restaurants on every street, which you will only discover by stumbling upon them. So pull out those rusty phrases you learned in high school French class and plan your trip to Vieux Quebec.
Lyndsey writes for Briefcases, a website that offers luxury briefcases direct from the manufacturer. Lyndsey currently resides and writes from Kolkata, India.
Photos: Chateau Frontenac by Paul Mannix. Plains of Abraham by David Paul Ohmer.