Culture + Style

Jonesing for a European Vacation? Go to Quebec City

Many of the things to do on a European vacation are the things to do in Quebec City, like supping on French delicacies or soaking in architectural wonders. (Photo: iStock)

You’re a sucker for Old World charm. Your perfect day includes meandering down cobblestone streets, taking detours into historic edifices and sipping espresso at an outdoor café. You’re gung-ho to jet across the pond. But, before you book that flight to London or Rome, Paris or Prague, think north of the border to Quebec City.

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citadelle quebec city
La Citadelle in Quebec City (Photo: iStock)

Get Your British Fix

Forget Buckingham Palace; watch the Changing of the Guard at la Citadelle. Dressed in their iconic red tunics and black bearskin hats, the Van Doos, as these guards are called, ceremoniously change shifts while their trusty mascot, Baptiste the goat, stands faithfully on the side.

You can watch the guard change every day at 10 a.m. from late June through Labor Day. Afterwards, follow your military guide around the 300-year-old fortress and discover its story, see the cannons fire, explore the museum and soak up amazing views of the city from its highest point.

Go on a Roman Pilgrimage

Seek the divine as you walk through the Holy Door at the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral. It’s the only Holy Door outside of Europe, a special door that remains sealed until the Pope declares a Jubilee, or Holy Year. Pope Francis declared 2016 the Holy Year of Mercy.

Jubilees are usually celebrated every 25 years, however, this one is 10 years early to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. You can pass through the Holy Door in Quebec until November 20, 2016.

shopping quebec city
Shopping in Quebec City. (Photo: iStock)

Dine Like the French

French-Canadians, that is. Dine in fine French restaurants housed in centuries-old buildings in the Old City and nosh at unpretentious bistros in the Saint Roch district.

Hit up the historic market Marche du Vieux-Port for a taste of local specialties like cider, cheese, chocolate and more. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a trip to the sugar shacks during maple syrup season (March–May) or order a slice of sugar pie any time of year.

Finish up your foodie feast with poutine: French fries piled high, smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. Give it a go at Chez Ashton, a local chain, or try a more sophisticated version served with duck confit at Le Cochon Dinque.

poutine quebec city
A French-Canadian favorite: poutine. (Photo: iStock)

Take a Prague Walk

Work off that Canadian comfort food with a stroll through Old Quebec. Take in the architectural treasures and stunning river views, reminiscent of Prague’s city streets. Follow the cobblestone to the charming Quartier Petit Champlain district where you can peruse artisan shops and designer boutiques and imagine life inside the historic homes.

End your walking tour of the walled city on the Promenade Samuel-De Champlain along the St. Lawrence River. And make sure you get out on the river at some point before you return home. You’ll get the best view – and ‘gram – of the skyline from a boat.