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Quebec City’s Château Frontenac

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More from Our Three-Day Trip to Quebec City:
Intro and History | Fortifications and Citadel | Two Views of Quebec | Old Quebec
The Montmorency Falls | The Plains of Abraham | Two Great QC Hotels | Final Images

Built in 1893 by the Canadian Pacific railway company, the Château Frontenac dominates the skyline of Quebec City. A towering structure with over 600 rooms and an unforgettable profile that reigns over the walls of the Old Town, this is thought to be the world’s most photographed hotel. I wouldn’t doubt it. The Frontenac so large and central that it will be part of the backdrop in nearly every picture you’ll take of Quebec City.

The most architecturally significant building in a city is rarely a hotel, but that’s the case in Quebec City. The Château Frontenac isn’t the tallest structure in town, but with its privileged position atop Cape Diamond, it’s certainly the one your eyes will be drawn to. Designed by American architect Bruce Price, this was the first of several chateau-style hotels built by Canadian Pacific, in a bid to promote luxury tourism along its lines.

Naturally, we couldn’t resist going inside to check out the lobby, which was as luxurious as we’d suspected. I went to the concierge to ask about a brochure, and was surprised by the presence of a big dog lying next to the desk. Daphnie is the Frontenac’s “Canine Ambassador,” whose mission is to make guests feel more at home. Apparently, guests can borrow her for walks, should they be missing their dog while traveling.

Even if you’re not staying at the Château Frontenac, you can still see much of the hotel as a visitor. From the lobby, go down a flight of stairs to find a photo exhibition about the chateau’s history, and make sure to check out the bar. Whether or not you stayed there, the Château Frontenac will almost certainly be among your most prominent memories from Quebec City.

Location on our Map
Fairmont Château Frontenac – Website

Book Your Stay At The Hotel Château Frontenac Here

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June 8, 2016 at 2:49 pm Comment (1)

Two Views of Quebec City

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More from Our Three-Day Trip to Quebec City:
Intro and History | Fortifications and Citadel | The Château Frontenac | Old Quebec
The Montmorency Falls | The Plains of Abraham | Two Great QC Hotels | Final Images

It doesn’t matter which angle you’re admiring it from, Quebec City is stunning. We had a chance to see two of the best views of the city: from the water, during a short ferry trip across the St. Lawrence River, and from the sky, in the 31st-floor observatory of the city’s tallest building.

Quebec City Panoramas

There are a number of excursions you can make on the Saint Lawrence River, including a trip to the Montmorency Falls. But if you simply want a view of the old town from the water, the cheapest and quickest option by far is a round-trip ticket on the ferry that runs between Quebec and the town of Lévis, on the other side of the river. It’s just a few bucks each way, and the ferry runs constantly.

From the terminal, you can’t really see much of Quebec City, but that changes almost immediately as the boat pulls into the water. The buildings of Old Quebec are stacked along the promontory of Cape Diamond, so the perspectives shift dramatically as the boat gets farther from shore. It’s like watching a life-size diorama unfold, until you’ve reached Lévis and can see the entire thing. We rode the ferry during the morning, but it must be even more spectacular in the evening, when the sun is setting behind the city.

Quebec City Panoramas

For a totally different perspective over Quebec City, head through the Old Town and past the impressive Hôtel du Parlement, built in 1877, until you’ve reached the Observatoire de la Capitale. At 221 meters in height, this government building is the tallest in the city, and has a 360° panoramic view on its top floor.

From so high up, you get a real sense for the layout of Quebec City. You’ll see how the Saint Lawrence River narrows at Cape Diamond, and be able to better appreciate why Jacques Cartier chose this position for his new city. You also can see the Appalachians to the southeast, and the plains out to the north, past which is a sparsely populated region of mountains and lakes.

Locations on our Map: Ferry Terminal | Observatoire de la Capitale

Rent A Car In Quebec City

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June 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm Comments (0)

Quebec City: The Fortifications and Citadel

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More from Our Three-Day Trip to Quebec City:
Intro and History | Two Views of Quebec | The Château Frontenac | Old Quebec
The Montmorency Falls | The Plains of Abraham | Two Great QC Hotels | Final Images

Only two cities in North America have preserved their original fortifications. One is Campeche, Mexico, which we visited while living in the Yucatán. And now that we’ve been to Quebec City, our exploration of North America’s Fortified Cities is complete. We went on a walk around Old Quebec’s ancient walls, ending up at the Citadel, which was built by the British between 1820 and 1850.

Quebec City Wall Citadelle

Our self-guided tour of Quebec’s fortifications began at Artillery Park. With a view over the plains to the north and the Saint Charles River, this had been an important defensive position since the earliest days of the city, and was used by both the French and the British as barracks, an arsenal and a lookout point.

Continuing along the path that runs alongside the walls, we headed south and saw a few of the gates which still provide entrance to the Old Town. The first, Porte St. Jean, was originally built in 1693; it’s been demolished a couple of times since then, and the current iteration dates from 1939. Nearby is Kent Gate, which is the newest of Quebec’s doorways, added to the city in 1879. Finally, we came upon Porte St. Louis, which connects the Old Town to the handsome chateaus of the Grand Allee.

Quebec City Wall Citadelle

Eventually, we ended up at the Citadelle de Québec: a star-shaped fortress that is among the largest of North America’s historic fortifications. The British were fearful of an attack by the United States, and not without reason. We had, after all, invaded Quebec in the initial phases of our Revolutionary War. And after the War of 1812, the military commanders ordered the construction of a massive citadel to protect the provincial capital.

They needn’t have worried. The US army never mounted the anticipated invasion, and the fort has never been fired upon. The Citadel has become a popular tourist attraction, although it’s still an active military base, and can only be visited with an organized tour. After checking out an engaging museum dedicated to Canada’s military history, we joined our group outside.

Quebec City Wall Citadelle

The tour lasted about an hour, and took us on a loop around the grounds. Because there are troops wandering around and actually living here, we couldn’t go into many of the buildings, although we did see the interior of a former gunpowder battery and the former jail for misbehaving soldiers. The Governor General (who acts as the Queen of England’s representative in Canada) maintains a residence within the fort, and during the summer, visitors can watch a daily changing of the guard.

Historic forts are usually in a state of ruin, so it’s nice to see one that’s still active. The fact that it never saw battle was at first disappointing, but who knows? Perhaps it was specifically because of the Citadel that we Americans decided against conquering the province of Quebec. Too bad, it would have made an awesome 51st state! (Perhaps it’s not too late. After close examination, I’ve concluded that the Citadel should no longer pose a major concern to our modern army…)

Locations on our Map: Artillery Park | Porte Saint Jean | Kent Gate | Porte Saint Louis | The Citadelle

Quebec City Car Rentals

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June 1, 2016 at 7:09 pm Comments (2)

A Trip to Quebec City

Add to Flipboard Magazine.
More from Our Three-Day Trip to Quebec City:
Fortifications and Citadel | Two Views of Quebec | The Château Frontenac | Old Quebec
The Montmorency Falls | The Plains of Abraham | Two Great QC Hotels | Final Images

Montreal might be Quebec’s largest and most important city, but it’s not the capital of the province. That would be Quebec City, three hours to the north along the St. Lawrence River. The only city in Canada or the USA which has retained its original fortifications, Quebec City makes for a perfect getaway from Montreal.

Quebec City

The name of the city is officially “Quebec,” and this is how most natives refer to it. “City” is often appended to the name to help differentiate it from the province, but for locals, it’s just “Quebec.” At first, it confused us when people in Montreal would ask if we’d be “going to Quebec.” Weren’t we already there?

Quebec City was “discovered” by French explorer Jacques Cartier, who built a fort on the site in 1535 during his second voyage to the New World. But it wasn’t until 1608 that Samuel de Champlain founded a permanent settlement here. The town would grow slowly, and although it never experienced the kind of population boom that hit Montreal, it’s remained an administrative capital since its inception.

The British claimed Quebec in 1763, at the end of the Seven Years War, but the city’s heart has remained steadfastly French. In comparison with Montreal, where a significant proportion of the population speaks English, 95% of Quebec City’s population is francophone. And there are far fewer ethnic minorities here; in fact, this is the least diverse major city in all of Canada. Immigrants and industry were drawn to the booming port city of Montreal, and as a result, Quebec City has maintained a small-town feel, despite a healthy population of 700,000.

Quebec City is located where the St. Lawrence River begins to widen, on its approach the Atlantic Ocean. With Cape Diamond, its large natural promontory overlooking the river, the location is of utmost strategic importance, and was a natural spot for Champlain’s settlement. Most of the city’s historic sights are found in the walled confines of Old Quebec, which has both a “High Town” atop the promontory, and a narrow “Low Town” squished between Cape Diamond and the river.

Old Quebec doesn’t seem to have changed much in its 400 years of existence. We arrived on the morning bus from Montreal and, by the end of the ten-minute walk to our hotel, Le St-Pierre Auberge we’d already fallen in love. With its ramparts, gates, stone buildings, cobblestone streets and European architecture, Quebec City is beyond picturesque. And the locals know it. One lady we encountered during our initial explorations told us that Quebec is “la plus belle ville d’Amérique du Nord.” We found it hard to disagree.

Cheap Flights to Quebec City

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May 31, 2016 at 5:48 pm Comment (1)
Quebec City's Chteau Frontenac Built in 1893 by the Canadian Pacific railway company, the Château Frontenac dominates the skyline of Quebec City. A towering structure with over 600 rooms and an unforgettable profile that reigns over the walls of the Old Town, this is thought to be the world's most photographed hotel. I wouldn't doubt it. The Frontenac so large and central that it will be part of the backdrop in nearly every picture you'll take of Quebec City.
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