10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Upper Town, Québec City
Steep cliffs made Québec City an important strategic point on the St. Lawrence River. Sitting above the packed merchant quarters of Lower Town, Upper Town allowed the prospering government of New France to expand. Catholic convents, Art Deco skyscrapers, and military strongholds are mixed in with heritage stone buildings and public parks. Among the highlights of Haute-Village, find Citadel fortifications and museums, the art-filled street of Rue de Trésor, and the unmistakable Château Frontenac.
1 Château Frontenac
Constructed for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1894, the grand Château Frontenac is today the city's most prominent landmark and foremost hotel. This historic property can be seen from miles away and is especially impressive at night. The palatial hotel stands on the site once occupied by Fort St.-Louis, the governor's residence in colonial times, and is named after the Comte de Frontenac, a French nobleman who was a leading figure in "la Nouvelle France." In front of the hotel, Terrasse Dufferin affords stunning views northwards to the Laurentians, and the Promenade des Gouverneurs leads southwards toward the Citadel and Plains of Abraham. It was here at the Québec Conference, in August 1943, that the Allied Powers - Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, William L. M. King, Vice-Admiral Lord Mountbatten, and the U.S. Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, and others - laid preparations for the D-Day landings in Normandy (June 6th 1944).
Address: 1 Rue des Carrières, Québec City
Thrusting upwards from the west and facing the St. Lawrence River, Cap Diamant reaches a height of 100 meters and commands an extensive and varied panorama. On it stands Québec's Citadel, completed in 1832, a massive fortress with hardly an equal anywhere in the world. Within the protection of its thick walls, ramparts, and ditches (laid out roughly in the shape of a star) are military quarters for generals, officers, and men. One of the beautifully restored buildings is now the summer residence of the Governor General of Canada, while the mid-18th century powder magazine in the southern corner of the Citadel has been converted into a military museum. The Citadel is also the headquarters of the 22nd Canadian Regiment which, formed at the beginning of the First World War, boasts a distinguished record, including action at the Battle of the Somme and - much later - in the Korean War. In summer, plan to visit during the morning Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Address: 1 Côte de la Citadelle, Québec City
3 Plains of Abraham
Outside the city walls, to the west of the Citadel, stretches the green expanse known as the Plains of Abraham (Champs de Bataille) where in 1759 the British, led by General Wolfe, fought the French under Montcalm. Information boards are provided, making it possible to trace the course of events. There are also the remains of two Martello towers, later additions to Québec's fortifications. Begun in the late 1930s, the Joan of Arc Garden has a fabulous display of flowers from spring until fall.
Address: 835 Ave Wilfrid-Laurier, Québec City
4 City Fortifications
In the more than 300 years of its history, Québec has come to possess a variety of fortifications, all of which can be explored on an hour-long circular walk. The bastions, walls, towers, gates, and countless old cannon show how well the former French colony was protected. Completed in 1832, the four and a half kilometers of defensive ramparts on the west flank of the Old City were constructed of granite and sand, the only fortifications of this kind in North America. Numerous pieces of weaponry are a constant reminder of Québec's troubled past.
5 Parc Historique de l'Artillerie
Near Porte St-Jean, part of the restored city fortifications, lies the military complex of Parc de l'Artillerie. A number of ancient buildings have been incorporated into the historic site, including 17th and 18th century barracks, the Logis d'officiers (officers' quarters), and the neighboring Redoute Dauphine with its mighty walls. In 1879, an arsenal was established on the site, and afterwards, a factory making munitions and other military equipment. The latter closed in 1964. The factory building now houses an information center devoted to the city's history (with a very detailed model of old Québec).
Address: 2 Rue d'Auteuil, Québec City
6 Basilique Notre-Dame
The Catholic cathedral with its lovely façade was designed by the architect Baillairgé and completed in 1844. Two previous cathedrals stood on this same site but were destroyed by fire, with the first built in the mid 17th century. The interior of Notre-Dame de Québec is very impressive with a beautiful altar, Episcopal canopy, and stained-glass windows.
Address: 16 Rue de Buade, Québec City
7 Place d'Armes
Place d'Armes (Arms Square) in the Upper Town of Québec is Old Québec's busy main square. Located in front of Château Frontenac, the square comes to life during the summer months with performers and entertainers. Also in the square is a towering monument to Samuel de Champlain, though there are no known portraits of the city founder. The little Musée du Fort on Place d'Armes is well worth a visit by anyone with an interest in history. The story of the city and the various battles for Québec are vividly recounted with the aid of a sound and light show.
8 Rue du Trésor
Place d'Armes leads into the colorful Rue du Trésor, Québec's equivalent of Montmartre. Like its Parisian counterpart, the street is usually crowded with artists exhibiting their work, simply hung on the surrounding walls. Paintings and prints are among the many items offered for sale.
9 City Hall
Québec's venerable old city hall (directly opposite the cathedral) is another city gathering point. A statue of Cardinal Taschereau (1820-98) stands in the forecourt, which once served as a marketplace. Taschereau, a former rector of Laval University, was the first Canadian to be made a cardinal. Next to Hôtel-de-Ville stands the grandiose Edifice Price. It is designed after the Empire State building in New York, and originally housed the headquarters of the Price Brothers Company, a lumber firm in the 1930s. The building is an Art Deco style with 18 floors, which became Québec's first skyscraper in 1929. Edifice Price has an impressive interior with art showing the history of the Price Brothers Company.
Address: 2 Rue des Jardins, Québec City
10 Musée de l'Amérique Francophone
The historic Séminaire de Québec houses the impressive Museum of French America. It is an extension of the larger Musee de la Civilization, located in Basse-Ville. As the name suggests, the museum deals with all aspects of the history of French in North America.
Address: 2 Côte de la Fabrique, Québec City
Other Points of Interest
Musée des Ursulines de Québec
Just off the Rue St-Louis in Québec stands the old Ursuline convent. The convent museum vividly conveys the realities of life in earlier days. Among the many items of interest is the skull of the French Général Montcalm, who died in battle on the Plains of Abraham.
Founded in 1639 by Madame de la Peltrie, the convent provided an education for young girls, First Nations as well as French. The convent's first Mother Superior was Marie de l'Incarnation who came from Tours in France. She made great efforts to get to know the Algonquin and Iroquois people, compiling the first ever dictionaries in their two languages. Surrounded by an aura of mystery during her lifetime and already revered as a saint in the 17th century, she was beatified in 1980. The church is exceptional, being adorned with beautiful early 18th century altars and statues by Levasseur.
Address: 12 Rue Donnacona, Québec City
Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
The exterior of Québec's Cathédrale Anglicane (Anglican cathedral) is very similar to London's St. Martin's in the Fields. It was the first Anglican cathedral to be consecrated outside the United Kingdom (in 1804). The interior has a very fine choir installed in honor of the British monarch, with beautiful choir stalls.
Address: 31 Rue des Jardins, Québec City