Hotels in Québec City, Canada
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Quebec City – Charming Guardian of the Mighty St Lawrence
With its charming and peaceful streets, chic boutique hotels, and relaxed atmosphere, today’s Quebec City has certainly changed since its original incarnation as a defensive fort during the Revolutionary War. Today’s only invaders are peaceful and excited tourists, visiting what is often considered North America’s most European city. With cobbled streets, delightful architecture and a certain joie de vivre, Quebec City is often associated with French cities and towns.
The Citadel and a Long History of Warfare
A good place to get one’s bearings when visiting Quebec City is the Citadelle of Quebec. It is only a short walk from most of the Old City hotels. Originally conceived by French colonists, and constructed by British forces, the fort has the perfect, and near impenetrable, defensive position atop the plateau. It has served to restrict entry to the important St. Lawrence River and formed the centrepiece of the town’s defensive structures. These include a circling stone wall which survives to this day, making Quebec City the only remaining walled city in the US or Canada. Despite being an active military installation, and an official residence of both the governor general of Canada, and the Canadian monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II), tours of the site are available throughout the year. The citadel, along with the historic district of Old Quebec, is a designated World Heritage Site.
Chateau Frontenac and the Gorgeous Old Town
Today the guns are silent, but the walls remain and enclose a charming Old Town that makes Quebec City one of the most visited cities of its size in Canada. The architecture and atmosphere buzz with a romantic and historic feel, making visitors almost believe they have left North America. Opened in the late 19th century, the Chateau Frontenac was conceived as one of the original Canadian Pacific Railroad’s grand luxury hotels, constructed throughout the Canada. With its imposing design, substantial height and bulk and copper roofs it certainly is incredibly grand. Even those who are not staying at the hotel are advised to at least have a drink or two at the bar, so as to experience this Quebec City and Canadian icon. Art lovers should head for the Musée national des Beaux-arts du Québec. Situated in a striking modern building just a bit beyond the Old Town’s walls, it features the very best of contemporary and historical art from Quebec and temporary exhibitions of international works.
The Streets are Alive in Summer and Winter
The people of Quebec City are hardy and quite used to the harsh weather that is typical in the long winter months. Rather than mope and complain they tend to turn lemons into lemonade, or rather snow and ice into sculptures and other works of art. The city holds a winter carnival every year, officially known as Le Carnaval de Quebéc. Despite the brisk temperatures that are experienced at this time, this carnival is as popular among travellers as events held in the summer months. In fact it is the largest carnival of its kind in the world, with more than one million people drawn to view the ice sculptures, take part in winter sports and attend parades and masquerade balls. Bonhomme, a stylised giant snowman, is the delightful official mascot. Those looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay in the deep winter months should head a few miles to the north of the city where the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, is open from January to March each year. The spectacular suites are carved out of the ice by artists and have to be seen to be believed.
In summer, many travellers from Montreal and elsewhere flock to Quebec City for weekend getaways. Summer brings sidewalk cafes, outdoor music festivals and very popular St Jean Baptiste Day celebrations on June 24th.
Stunning Daytrips in all Directions
Québec City not only has a fantastic Old Town which one can spend days exploring, but is in the centre of lovely countryside that offers an excellent range of scenic daytrips. The attractions are nearby, so no change of hotel will be necessary for any of these trips. Orleans Island is just 15 minutes drive from the Old Town. Aside from some great views of the St. Lawrence, Orleans Island is best known as a gourmet destination, with a number of great restaurants focussing on top quality local produce. Jacque Cartier National Park is just 30 minutes drive north and is known for its deep river valleys, pristine trails and extensive wildlife, including moose and red fox. Families and keen photographers may enjoy a trip on the Charlevoix Railway, which travels from Quebec City to La Malbaie, with much of the track running along the lovely St. Lawrence River.