Photographic Tour of Historic Quebec City

Canada, Quebec province, Quebec City in winter, the Upper Town of Old Quebec declared a World Heritage by UNESCO
RENAULT Philippe / / Getty Images

Sitting high upon the Saint Lawrence River, a three-hour drive east of Montreal, Quebec City is as unique a city as you will find anywhere on the continent.

San Francisco has its wharf and undulating streets, New Orleans has its French Quarter and jazz-filled music halls, but Quebec City is as un-North American as you can imagine, with cobblestone streets, European inspired architecture, and a population that largely speaks French.

In addition, Quebec City’s charm is not Las Vegas-style forgery and mimicry, it is the real deal. Quebec City was founded as the capital of New France back in 1608 and maintains much of its original composition, buildings, and vibe. 

01 of 07

Breakneck Stairs to Old Town

Rue de Petit, Champlain, Quebec City
Demetrio Carrasco / Getty Images

Breakneck stairs is a famous descent from the Dufferin Terrace outside the Chateau Frontenac into lower town and one of the most photographed parts of Quebec City. 

The steps are wooden and steep, but their name is more intimidating than need be. A handrail is available and certainly, a wide variety of people can manage to climb them. 

Next to Breakneck Stairs is the Funicular, which, since 1879, has provided a more passive decline into the lower part of Quebec City (or ascent to Upper Town). 

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02 of 07

Gate St. Louis

Porte St Louis wall, Quebec City
Peter Unger / Getty Images

Porte St. Louis is one of three gates—once intended to keep assailants at bay—that provide lovely and prodigious entryways into Old Quebec City. These stone gates are part of the fortification surrounding the Old Town. Pedestrians can circumnavigate the entire structure, walking across the top of the wall and gates at many points should they choose.

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03 of 07

Petit Champlain

Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Patrick Donovan / Getty Images

Petit Champlain is a crazy charming neighborhood in the old part of Quebec City that features restaurants, patios, galleries and an old world allure that is un-Canadian to the average visitor and yet completely authentic: a delightful reminder of the country's French roots, alive and well and ready to serve you a chilled Pinot Grigio.

The district is named after Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608. The famous Breakneck Stairs that connect Upper and Lower Quebec are part of Petit Champlain.

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04 of 07

Chateau Frontenac

Chateau Frontenac Hotel, Quebec City
Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

The Chateau Frontenac is part of a group of hotels built by Canadian Rail in the 19th century to accommodate train passengers on their journey across the country. Luckily, many of these hotels survive to this day, under the ownership of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and include the Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, the Royal York in Toronto and Manoir Richelieu in eastern Quebec. 

Read reviews and check rates of the Chateau Frontenac on TripAdvisor. 

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05 of 07

Quebec Winter Carnival

Quebec Winter Carnival's Place Desjardins
Jane McLean

The Quebec Winter Carnival is the world’s largest winter festival and has retained its allure largely because it has stayed true to its roots as a family-friendly celebration that embraces the cold, snowy Quebec winter: it reflects the lives of Quebeckers in a way that outsiders can enjoy.  Bonhomme, the carnival's merry marshmallowy mascot, has also stayed a constant over the event's rich history.

The Quebec Winter Carnival began when the inhabitants of New France, now Quebec, had a rowdy tradition of getting together just before Lent to eat, drink and be merry. 

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06 of 07

Ice Canoe Race

A group of boaters participate in an iced river crossing competition in Quebec city
Andrea Pistolesi / Getty Images

One of the most exhilarating events at the Quebec Winter Carnival is the ice canoe race. Audacious athletes don wetsuits and hop into highly illogical modes of transportation to traverse the distance across the Saint Lawrence River from Quebec City to Levis.

Once a legitimate form of travel across the St. Lawrence River, today ice canoeing is a sport in which several brave athletic souls put on wetsuits and negotiate their canoes across an often patchy waterway - alternating between carrying and paddling the canoe. The suspense comes in watching each team decide on the best path in the ever-shifting sub-zero maze.

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07 of 07

Cruise Port

View of Quebec City and port
Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images

Quebec City is a port for several cruises that make their way along the Saint Lawrence Seaway onto the Maritimes and Newfoundland or down the North Atlantic Coast to New York. 

In particular, the fall foliage cruise between Quebec City and New York City is hailed as one of the most beautiful journeys in North America. 

Adventure Canada, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Holland are just some of the cruise lines offering departures out of this historic city.