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Top Destinations for 2016: Québec


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Part North American, part European; part French-language, part English; part history-rich, part modern. Québec offers a complex mix in cultures and experiences, perfect for a tourist who wants to do it all.

Known for its natural beauty and unique cultural flavour, Québec stands alone from its fellow Canadian provinces. It’s the only province that claims French as its sole official language, it’s the largest province by area and it has a pleasant four-season continental climate in larger cities — a nice relief from the cold of many other Canadian tourist destinations.

Blending influences from its French and Aboriginal histories, the culture of Québec is probably unlike anything you’ve seen. The Québécois are known for their pride in their province, and Québec has been at the centre of debates of whether or not the province should become independent from the rest of Canada. Seeing how distinctive it is from the rest of the country, one can understand why.

Where to go

Montréal is Québec’s largest city and the heart of all the action. Walk through Old Montréal, the city’s oldest area, and visit the iconic Notre-Dame Basilica. Its architecture is dramatic and colourful, famous for its Gothic Revival style. Get a taste of the city in its more modern state at the musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, which exclusively features artwork created after 1939.

You’ll also want to see Québec City, a city known especially for its Winter Carnival. Schedule a February trip to see incredible ice sculptures, including a full ice palace, as well as toboggans and parades. Québec City is also known for its historic sites and museums. A trip to the Parc Aquarium du Québec will give you a chance to see animals native to the Artctic, and a trip to Montmorency Falls shows off the cliff at the end of the Montmorency River where it drops into the Saint Lawrence River.

To get out of the city regions and into a more peaceful — but equally exciting — part, go to the hilly region of Charlevoix. It was shaped by a crater 350 million years ago and has since then been hit by several major earthquakes. That’s not to stop you from going, though! Today the region is very safe and picturesque, known for its whale watching tours and agrotourism.

Also be sure to visit the Gaspé Peninsula, dominated by sea cliffs and the Chic-Choic Mountains. Hike through the Gaspé National Park and the Forillon National Park to see Gaspé at its finest.  

What to do

Tour La Citadelle

Situated in Québec City, La Citadelle is North America’s largest fort. Tours change by the time of year but include lantern-lit evening trips, changing of the guard and beating of the retreat, soldier customs.

Go to a market

Jean-Talon, Atwater, Maisonneuve and Lachine markets are all popular stops for locals looking for fresh fruit, activities like yoga and international cuisine. Taste-test international spices and meals, take photos of the picture-perfect fruit and vegetable displays and enjoy a normal morning in the life of a Québécois.

Take a cruise train through the countryside

The Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix runs 87 miles from north to south through Québec, giving riders the chance to see the natural landscape of the region — all in luxury. Enjoy a three-course meal between stops at Baie St. Paul and the Le Massif ski area.

Eat some poutine

The classic Québécois dish can be found outside the region, but word has it that there’s nothing better than a “real” serving of the hot snack right in Québec. It’s made of thick chips with cheese curds and brown gravy — perfect for warming up on a cool Québec evening.

Learn about Aboriginal Canadian culture

The site d’interpretation de la culture Micmac de Gespeg gets tourists in touch with a genuine look at Micmac culture in eastern Québec. Learn how to make traditional tools, tour a Micmac replica village and talk with an informed guide along the way.

Go moose watching

The parc national de la Jacques-Cartier offers up great opportunities for canoeing and hiking as well as fishing, hunting and, yes, moose watching. It’s a protected area, so you can enjoy yourself knowing that your explorations will be in peace.

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