Since I was set to spend close to 48 hours in Quebec City, I decided to check out what other attractions were there nearby. Most people stick to the old city, which is fine since there’s some much to see that you can spend days ducking in and out of historic buildings, antique stores and plotting what fabulous restaurant to go to next. But I wanted to see what else was out there and I’m glad I did.
Montmorency Falls, Quebec
I found out about Montmorency Falls, a natural attraction about 15 minutes away, so I decided to go check it out. The weather was gorgeous and the fall colors made the scenery that much more beautiful.
I had read from the guide about two entrances to Montmorency Parc: a lower one that required a steep climb on wooden stairs or CAN$9.75 ride on a cable car to the top, or the upper one, which anyone could just drive up to without being required to climb stairs or pay for the cable car ride. I choose the cheaper way and headed straight to the top.
To go to the top of the park, one has to drive through a residential neighborhood. Thankfully, the road is clearly marked and 5 minutes later I was at the park’s entrance.
Entrance to the park is free, but one must pay for parking if arriving via vehicle. There was no easy way of avoiding forking over the CAN$9.75 I was to have to pay, whichever option I went with. I soon forgot about having to pay for parking once I caught a glimpse of the falls, which are quite beautiful.
At the park there is a nice, long boardwalk that takes you directly to the falls and to a suspension bridge right above them.
The view of the St. Lawrence River was quite awesome. I later learned that these falls were actually higher than Niagara’s.
Looking over to the other side of the bridge, I spotted another lookout point, so I headed over there to get a different angle on the view.
While not quite Niagara Falls, the appeal of Montmorency falls lies in the pristine state it has been kept. This setting felt much more different than the vibe you get at over-commercialized Niagara Falls.
Once I had my fill of nature-gazing, it was time to head back to town. The cable cars ferrying people between the lower parking station and the upper part of the park seemed quite interesting. I just did not have enough time to take a ride (or the inclination to spend more money).
The Citadel, Quebec City
After returning to the park, it was time to enjoy a walk through Old Quebec. Once I approached the city gates, I started looking for the Citadel, a still-active military base open to the public and the highest point in Quebec City, which promised some good photo opportunities.
The Citadel is quite interesting and you can go on a paid tour of the base. There’s also a very colorful changing of the guard ceremony, which I unfortunately missed since they close when wintertime is near. A shame, since the weather was still great. I decided to park the car there and walk around a bit.
The views from the Citadel did not disappoint.
Once I was done mugging for the camera, it was time to head down and check out the rest of the town. The huge building in the middle of the picture (and undergoing roof repairs at the time) is Chateau Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world and a Quebec City landmark. That long boardwalk in the picture below is Terrasse Dufferin, a great terrace to walk leisurely, enjoy the quality street performers, or just soak in the view.
The boardwalk had its share of great street performers. I listened to a couple of opera singers belt out classic opera songs, and while not my cup of tea, in this setting the music was just right.
A quick note here. While the Quebec region prides itself in their French heritage and identity, the people in Quebec couldn’t have been nicer, contrary to the tales you may have heard about the supposed French snobbery. Everyone was gracious and wouldn’t hesitate to teach me a new word or two in French, or to help you with my pronunciation. I really liked the people in Quebec City and wouldn’t coming back to live here for a bit in the future.
The easiest way to shuttle back and forth between Upper Town and Lower Town is the Funicular. Otherwise, you can just navigate the somewhat steep stairs. It’s CAN$2.00 each way, but not necessary if you’re in OK shape and able to use stairs.
Once I was done walking around, I looked for a place to eat.
I found a highly recommended sandwich shop, Paillard. The sandwich was good, but the best things were the croissants, which I bought a few to snack on later at night. Hands down the best ones I’ve ever had.
Later on, I walked a bit around admiring the sights. Quebec is beautiful, day or night. One of the mist magical cities I’ve ever been in. Below is a well-known open-air gallery, located on Rue du Tresor.
I spent a bit more time walking around, eventually calling it a night because of the long drive I had planned for the next day. Below is a pic of the Museum of French America (purple windows). To the right is the Notre Dame de Quebec Cathedral, the oldest church in Canada, which I wish I would’ve taken a web-suitable picture of.
All in all, a great day. I wish I had more time to explore the city, but that’s all the time I had on this trip. Tomorrow there would be a lot more driving and a lot less walking.
Have you visited Montmorency Falls or the Citadel?