Québec City is the rather European-flavored capital of Québec province. The city is divided between an Old Town bristling with historic ramparts, churches, narrow lanes and former battlefields, and districts revamped with museums, cafes, bars, restaurants and all the other mod-cons of international tourism.
In 1995, all of Québec province voted in a referendum to decide whether it should separate from the rest of Canada and become an independent republic. The 'No' vote won by less than one percentage point.
Quebec City: About 30 km along a picturesque drive from Québec City, there is this fantastic bakery called Chez Marie, where you will find fresh bread baked in 150-year-old outdoor ovens. This family-owned establishment offers danishes, buns, breads of various sorts and sweet confections such as assorted jams and maple products. The stone homestead house and the delicious treats make this little bakery a real gem in the countryside immediately surrounding Québec City.
About a twenty-five minute drive from Quebec City is one of the most intriguing and unique travel experiences offered in North America, for those adventurous enough to try it. Between January and April of each year, located in the village of Ste. Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, stands the Ice Hotel , a hotel designed with changing architecture from year to year and built entirely of ice and snow. Every year the engineers of the hotel create new and more intricate designs for the buildings, making this place an inimitable spectacle of structure and accommodation. Guests can admire the many sculptures and ice paintings in the two galleries, take in some outdoor excursions such as dogsledding or cross-country skiing, contemplate in the Ice Chapel or sip vodka from glasses made of ice in the hotel bar. Polar sleeping bags or soft deer pelts keep guests warm at night. This hotel is an experience unlike any other, and a unique idea for those interested in winter traveling and the brilliance of ice architecture.
Want to see the river up close and personal? Take a cheap cruise over the St-Laurent river: a pedestrian will only pay CAN$3,00 each way (discounts for kids and senior citizens) to take the local ferry between the two banks of the river. The crossing lasts 10 minutes, and they are very frequent throughout the day. For best pics of the Château Frontenac and the cliffs, take an early ferry, since the sun reflects on the north shore in the morning. More details on the ferry crossing (this is a somewhat bilingual site). And if you've never tasted excellent gelati outside Italy, and think all soft ice creams are the same, you may check for yourself; once on the south shore there is an amazing dairy bar in a chocolate factory. In operation in the summer months (roughly until Labor Day, or later if the weather is warm enough) on Bégin Street in Lévis, about half a mile from the ferry, uphill. Just about everybody in Lévis knows where it is, and more and more people from far away are in on the secret every day, and come to town solely for this royal treat. Les Chocolats Favoris offers a variety of soft ice creams made with real cream in four basic flavors (and banana splits, sorbets, seasonal fruits ice (silky) tofu, etc), and for a few more cents, you may have it dipped into either milk or dark chocolate both made on the premises. Once you have tasted it, you understand the lengthy queues on the sidewalk. If you are interested in fine products, just cross the street to Aux Petis Oignons (the name is a pun: treating somebody ''aux petis oignons'' means to do everything you possibly can to treat that person well) for fresh French bread baked daily on the premises, bagels, local and imported fine cheeses, a wide array of imported oils and vinegars, Asian products, fair trade organic coffee, and so on. (Please note that the second word in the name of the place is spelled with a ''t'' between the letter ''i'' and the letter ''s'' -- written that way, the page could not be edited because ''a term is considered objectionable'' in English : ))
Feel like stretching your legs off the streets ? The Plaines d'Abraham (Battlefields Park) offer walking and jogging opportunities in a beautiful setting, including a 1,5 km (a little less than 1 mile) hiking trail and an Arboretum for you to explore.
Litterally off the beaten path, stroll on the Parcours des Anses walking / cycling / rollerblading the 15 km (10 miles) flat path along the river, on the south shore. Walking on this well maintained path offers magnificant views of Québec City and the Cap Diamant. Wheelchair friendly. Dogs are admitted if on leash. You may access the path simply by taking the ferry from Québec to Lévis: the path is just behind the ferry building (in season, there is a small tourist office in operation).
At 5 minutes walk east of the ferry (6 220 St-Laurent St) you may visit, on a daily basis from June to September, a small national historic site of Canada: a guided tour of the original Davie Shipyard, the first of the three that were built on the south shore.