CHASING THE MAP

5 Things To Do In Québec City

MUSÉE DU FORT

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the Musée Du Fort. Located in front of The Chateau Frontenac, I knew that I was going to get a lesson that recounted the military history of Québec City. I was hoping that the experience was going to be presented in such a way that it maintained my interest, and wasn’t dry or boring. I’m very fascinated when it comes to history, but how it’s shared is almost equally important to the actual information to maintain my interest.

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The theatre itself offers seating like that of a movie theatre with a large screen. What truly made the event so unique was the sound and light show from the 450 ft. square model representing Québec City and the surrounding regions from the year 1750. As the history of the military battles unfolded on the screen, the model would light up, identifying the engaged areas. It’s incredibly animated, with a spectacular light show as part of the town is engulfed in flames, or troops sailing down the swift St. Lawrence River to assume their positions before battle.

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The presentation is a mere 1/2 hour, which honestly flies by because it’s so engaging. Afterwards, there’s a fun quiz that you take to see just how well you were paying attention. Winners get a small prize, and on this trip, it was a soft “cannonball” key chain.

The Musée Du Fort is definitely worth the $8 price of admission for adults, $7 for seniors, and $6 for students. The shows in English are typically offered on the hour.

 

SHRINE OF SAINTE-ANNE-DE-BEAUPRÉ

I’ll be frank here. I don’t go to church regularly. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was in one. Growing up, religion wasn’t reverently practiced in our house, and we only attended on the occasional holiday.

That does not stop me, however, from appreciating the beauty and sanctity of a shrine or church. I was never more overwhelmed with pure awe and respect as I was when I visited the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.

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Saint Anne, in case you didn’t know, is the mother of Mary and the  grandmother of Jesus. For over 350 years, people from all over the world and all walks of life have been making pilgrimages to this revered site.

The Basilica, inspired by the great Romanesque cathedrals, first burned down in 1922, but was rebuilt starting the following year and consecrated in 1976. The shrine is truly one of the most breathtaking works of art I’ve ever been privileged to witness, and truthfully is better appreciated by my pictures than my words. It boasts over 240 stained glass windows, innumerable tile mosaics throughout, as well as stone and wooden statues and sculptures. Not only that, but gorgeous handmade copper doors beckon you to enter through the main entrance.

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There’s also a “miracle wall,” where people who have been reportedly cured of ailments and the inability to walk have left their braces, crutches, and canes as a testament to their healing. Pretty powerful stuff, if you ask me.

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One can’t help but be touched, not only by the sheer magnitude and beauty of the shrine, but by the power of faith, hope, and prayer it exudes.

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I know that I was affected in ways I did not anticipate from my visit to the church. Perhaps you’ll be touched in some way, too.

 

PARC DE LA CHUTE MONTMORENCY

I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, but I’ve heard it’s beautiful. Did you know that the Parc de la Chute Montmorency in Quebec City is 83 metres high, which is 30 metres higher than Niagara Falls?

It was an overcast day when I visited, with on again / off again rain showers. That didn’t detract from the grandeur and beauty of this natural wonder. I imagine that the scenery from the top of the falls are even more spectacular on a sunny day, with sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River, Île d’Orleans, and Québec City.

There are three ways to reach the top of the falls: on foot by way of the panoramic 487 step stairway, via the on-site restaurant, or by the cable car. I chose the cable car, and leisurely enjoyed the magnificent views around me. And for approximately $12 for a round trip ride, it was definitely worth the minimal expense.

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When you exit the cable car at the top, you’ll enjoy a walk on the boardwalk along the cliff until you reach the suspended footbridge. The water is raging down into the St. Lawrence River and the sound is thunderous, but it’s truly music to the ears. I stood in awe, and fully appreciated Mother Nature in that instant.

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For the more adventurous of you out there, the Parc even offers 3 special hikes along the rock wall, one of which has a zip line.

Also at the top, there’s a gourmet restaurant with a panoramic deck in which to enjoy a relaxing meal or refreshing beverage. You’ll also find a more upscale gift shop with fantastic gifts and memorabilia of the falls and Quebec City to bring home with you.

The falls are a must see during your stay in Quebec. Spend the afternoon, or spend a mere hour, but you’ll be enthralled with the natural, unspoiled allure of the landscape.

 

WALKING TOUR OF OLD QUEBEC

What is the BEST way to learn about an unfamiliar city? Without a doubt, it was the 2 hour walking tour that I took of the Old City. This was my absolute favorite activity as a “newbie” to the city, hands down. I’m a huge history buff, and Old Québec is rich and abundant with lots of military and religious history.

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The tour I took, with Québec Cicerone Tours, was superb. Claudette, our tour guide, was dressed in period costume and played the part of Irish immigrant Mary Murphy to a T. Old Québec, approximately 333 acres, includes both the Upper and Lower Towns. Impossible, of course, to cover so much area in a tour, but I walked a fair distance and took in a fair amount of the city.

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While there, you’ll definitely want to take a ride on the Funicular. It’s a bargain at only $2.25 per person Canadian. A funicular is a mountainside railroad which operates by cable with counterbalanced cars which both ascend and descend. You’ll have a spectacular 45 degree angle view of the lower town, as well as a panoramic view of the mighty St. Lawrence River.

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The funicular also saves your legs, trust me. The alternative is climbing up the MANY steep steps to the upper city. I did this once as well, and thought that I was going to die before I made it to the top. It’s quite the workout!

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With an over 400 year past, you can only imagine the stories that this city has to tell. You’ll learn about so many different aspects of the city, the only walled city north of Mexico. The streets are narrow and some of the stairs are steep, but the city is a feast for the eyes. From the spectacular Château Frontenac to the Notre-Dame-de-Québec basilica to the convents and monuments, there’s something to see and learn around every corner.

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PLAINS OF ABRAHAM

Battlefields Park has often been compared to Central Park in New York and Hyde Park of London. Why? Because of its vast expanse of park area, in an urban setting, which affords locals and tourists alike the chance to picnic, enjoy a leisurely walk along the scenic St. Lawrence River, and immerse themselves in the important history of the region.

The Plains of Abraham, which is housed within the confines of Battlefields Park, covers approximately 242 acres. It’s the site of the pivotal 1759 battle in the Seven Years’ War between French and British troops, where ultimately the British gained control of Quebec City.

Today, there is a wide range of educational activities at the park available to the public. The group that I was with participated in an interactive program at the Martello Tower. It’s an engaging and very interesting activity in which a soldier dressed in period costume informs you about the history, architecture, and military engineering of the tower, as well as how the soldier’s lived while stationed at Martello.

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This is not a sit down, listen, and perhaps get bored after a half hour kind of presentation. Participants, from the time they start the program outside of the tower, are 100% engaged. From throwing bean bags into small window slots to test their aim to learning how to load and shoot a wooden “gun” to witnessing punishment tactics imposed for wrongdoings, you not only learn about history but you have fun while doing so.

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The park also offers many more programs and exhibitions, all priced differently but worth their weight in gold. This was also one of the highlights of my trip. Battlefields Park is lush, scenic, clean, and offers you a natural oasis within the confines of a primarily urban landscape. Spend a few hours, or spend the entire day. You won’t run out of things to do while here!

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