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Québec City is Instagram-worthy any time of year, so it goes without saying that if you have an Instagram account, you need to go on a Winter Intawalk of Vieux Québec (Old Québec). So, today’s ’12 Days of Christmas in Québec City’ festive activity is to dress warmly and go on a winter instawalk of Vieux Québec!

Québec City, the oldest city in Canada, is a favourite destination among those who want to wander down cobbled streets lined with stone tin-roofed houses. Established in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Québec City began in what is now known as Petit-Champlain and Place Royale, before moving up to the top of Cap Diamant — which gave the settlers a better view of the St Lawrence river, and thus a better chance of defending themselves against possible enemies — and stretching into what we now call Vieux Port.

Our self-guided Winter Instawalk of  Vieux Québec will take you through Vieux Québec, which is perched atop of Cap Diamant, then down the cap, into Vieux Port, Place Royale, and Petit-Champlain, before returning you to the starting point.

The beauty of a self-guided tour is that you have complete control: start whenever you want, choose which points of interest to spend time and which ones to skip, take as many café breaks as you want.

Let the tour begin!

Starting Point: Fairmont Château Frontenac

1, rue des Carrières

Designed by Bruce Price, an American architect, Château Frontenac was built in 1893; as one of the château-style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway (Banff Springs, Château Laurier, and Château Lake Louise were also built as part of this initiative). Sitting atop Cap Diamant in Québec’s Uppertown (also known as Vieux Québec), Fairmont Château Frontenac stands tall and majestic as though it is protecting the city from invasion — which makes sense as the Saint-Louis Fort once stood just in front of the hotel’s current location.

Start your winter instawalk outside the château, on rue du Fort, making your way to Monument Samuel de Champlain, which stands on Dufferin Terrace, in front of the château.

Monument Samuel de Champlain

[POINT OF INTEREST]

Dufferin Terrace

Created by French sculptor, Paul Chevré, and architect, Paul Alexander le Cardonnel, Monument Samuel de Champlain (the founder of Québec) stands on Dufferin Terrace, just in front of the Fairmont Château Frontenac.

In January 1896, a contest took place to find an artist to create a monument of Samuel de Champlain. Artists submitted sketches and models (there were 11 sketches and 14 models in total) of their proposed vision for the monument, which were then judged by a committee. The winner, a young sculptor from France, Paul Romain Chevré was awarded $30,000 to create the statue of Samuel de Champlain — which was placed on Dufferin Terrace in September 1898. The base upon which the statue stands was created by Paul Alexander le Cardonnel using stone similar to that of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Instastop

  • Instagram a shot of the monument from a distance with Château Frontenac in the background, or move up close to admire some of the finer details — look close enough and you’ll notice that crown resting upon one of the angels resembles the old fortress.
  • Capture a shot of Dufferin Terrace and Fairmont Château Frontenac.
  • Stand along the railing to instagram a shot of Petit-Champlain, which is located at the bottom of Cap Diamant, with the St. Lawrence river in the distance.

rue Haldimand

[POINT OF INTEREST]

Leaving Dufferin Terrace, walk past Au 1884 (the gazebo), up the stairs, and into Jardins des Gouverneurs. Here, in the centre of the garden, you will find a monument erected to honour General James Wolfe & Marquis de Montcalm; one English, the other French, both died during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 (which only lasted 15 mins).

From the top right corner of Jardins des Gouverneurs, you’ll see rue Haldimand, a short street with a steep hill, the houses on this street date back to 1823 — owned by a couple mayors, legislative councillor, a lawyer, a notary and a judge. To be honest, we just love the houses and the fine details that can be found when we look closely.

  • Take time to admire the fine architectural details on the houses along rue Haldimand – the ornate knobs are our favourite!

Terrasse Pierre-Duga-de-Mons

[POINT OF INTEREST]

 

A popular spot with visitors in spring, summer, and fall, Terrasse Pierre-Duga-de-Mons is a small terrace situated above Dufferin Terrace. A small terrace with a little flower garden and bench seating, a bronze bust of Pierre Duga de Mons (sculpted by Hamilton MacCarthy in 2007) rests in the centre.

Pierre Duga de Mons, a French explorer who travelled to the new world on a couple of occasions in the beginning of the 17th century, before entrusting his lieutenant, Samuel de Champlain to establish the colony of New France — known today as Québec City.

  • Walk up to the top of the grassy hill for one of the best views of Château Frontenac, the St. Lawrence river, and Vieux Québec. It’s a classic postcard shop — and one of our favourite places to go for sunset picnics.

Instastop

After Instagramming your classic postcard shot of Québec, following the path along the top of the Citadel, making your way to back to rue Saint-Louis, then continuing on the next point of interest on rue Donnacona — of course you may want to make a couple of instastops along the way, here are some suggestions:

  • Visit La Citadelle, a military fortress that is over 300 years old, and still active! Instagram the changing of the guard in summer, or a cool shot of the fortress walls and guns.
  • Visit the old city walls on rue Saint-Louis, climb the stairs at the wall to get a shot from above.
  • Walk down rue Saint Louis to rue de Corps de Garde where you’ll find a cannonball lodged at the base of the tree– it’s said to have landed there during the Battle of Québec in 1759, OR placed here on purpose to keep horse-drawn carriages from bumping the tree.
  • Instagram some of the unique doors on rue Donnaconna or Monastère des Ursulines de Québec.

Cathédrale Holy Trinity

31, rue des Jardins

[POINT OF INTEREST]

The first Anglican church to be built outside Britain, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is the seat of the Diocese of Québec City. Built between 1800 and 1804, the cathedral is British-Palladian – in architectural style – and fashioned after London’s Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The cathedral’s tower has eight bells, the heaviest being 840 kg and the lightest being 297 kg. The cathedral is also home to a silver communion set which was ordered by King George III.

  • Take time to admire the intricate details inside the cathedral: the ornate ceiling, the antique wooden pews, the beautiful stained glass windows. There are so many beautiful details to photograph, and admire.

 

Instastop

  • After your café break stop by Notre-Dame de Québec: admire the gorgeous details inside, the old wooden spiral stairs, stained glass, and more!
  • Wander down rue Saint-Famille, then exploring the quiet streets of rue Garneau and rue Christie
  • Chez Temporel on rue Couillard has been a favourite among local artists for years — and appears in the book Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny.
  • From rue Couillard wander onto rue Hébert, looking for the fine architectural details that seem to pop when you pay close attention.
  • Turning left on rue des Remparts, take the time to Instagram the cannons along the city wall, or admire some of the unique architecture on the houses across the street.

rue Sous-le-Cap

[POINT OF INTEREST]

As you walk along rue des Remparts the road will fork, stay right. Turn right onto Côte du Colonel Dambourgès, a charming cobbled street. As you reach the bottom of the hill, Sous-le-Cap will be on the right.

Known as the oldest and narrowest street in Québec City, Sous-le-Cap is a skinny street/alley that runs behind many of the buildings along rue Saint-Paul. In the beginning, the street was nothing more than a dirt track running along the base of Cap Diamant, not far from the banks of the St. Lawrence river (yes, the river was once very close to the cap).

  • Wander down rue Sous-le-Cap and Instagram a shot of the wooden staircases and terraces that span across the street.

Place Royale

[POINT OF INTEREST]

Follow rue du Sault au Matelot, turn right onto Côte de la Montagne, then an immediate left on rue Notre Dame. Welcome to Place Royale. From the beginning of the street, you’ll face La Fresque des Québécois, a fresco mural spanning the side of one of the stone buildings in Place Royale, which were commissioned for Québec’s 400th anniversary.

At one end of the square, you’ll see Notre-Dame-des-Victories, one of the oldest churches in Canada — you may recognize it from one of the final scenes shot for the movie Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio. The square it also home to Boutique Métiers d’Art du Québec, a shop selling products made by Québec artists, as well as Musée Place Royale, and the original La Maison Smith café.

  • Instagram a shot of the stairs tucked between Musée Place Royale and La Maison Smith, or find a unique angle to photograph the old stone house.

 

Instastop

  • Walking through Place Royale to Quartier Petit-Champlain, walk down the small hill to Cul-de-Sac, from this point you’ll have a unique shot of Petit-Champlain with Château Frontenac standing majestically in the background.
  • Wander down rue Sous le Fort (just before Cul-de-Sac) and Instagram the Batterie Royale or some of the fieldstone houses along the street.
  • Stand at the corner of rue Notre Dame and rue Sous le Fort for a shot of Petit-Champlain, the funiculaire track rising to the top of Cap Diamant, and a portion of Château Frontenac.
  • Take a detour to the Québec-Lévis ferry and ride it across the St Lawrence river (and back) for a classic shot of the Québec skyline.

Petit-Champlain

[POINT OF INTEREST]

A photo posted by Emily Garvey (@eagarvey819) on

Walk along boulevard Champlain, stopping in Fudgerie for a sweet snack, photographing the Cul-de-Sac or the boulevard before reaching the stairs leading to the beginning of rue du Petit-Champlain.

One of the oldest neighbourhoods in Québec City, Petit-Champlain was revitalized in the 1950s (it had, over time, been taken over by warehouses and become a kind of slum) when the city made the decision to restore it to its glory days, making it a tourist destination. Today Quartier Petit-Champlain is a charming neighbourhood filled with boutiques, historically restored houses, and gourmet restaurants.

  • [ut_service_column color=”#DC4551″ icon=”fa-camera-retro”]Keep your eyes open for pieces of street Banksy-esque street art, or take the classic shot of rue du Petit-Champlain with the stairs of lower in the far distance. There are many Instagram-worthy stops.[/ut_service_column]

Ending Point: Fairmont Château Frontenac

1, rue des Carrières

After exploring and Instagramming your way down rue du Petit-Champlain take the funicluaire ($2.25) up the cap to Dufferin Terrace. You are now back at the starting point. If you’re still up for exploring wander through the inside of Château Frontenac to admire its Great Gatsby-like feeling — we are suckers for royal blue and gold accents.

  • Feeling hungry? We highly suggest enjoying gourmet poutine or delicious burgers (they have lobster burgers in the summer) at Le Chic Shack, located just below Musée du Fort.

POPULAR RESOURCES

  • Québec City Travel Planner: Search through our handy travel planner for information on everything from driving routes, taking the train, when to visit, how to get around and more!
  • Urban Guide Québec City guidebook: Discover the local food and culture of Québec City in this guidebook focused on promoting local artisans, producers and businesses. Explore popular neighbourhoods, or embrace the local side, both are represented in this guidebook on Québec City.
  • Champlain’s Dream by David Hackett Fischer: Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winner, Champlain’s Dream is a captivating read about the man who established the colony of New France, and considered to be the father of Québec. A tome worthy of any book collection.
  • Québec: The Story of Three Sieges by Stephen Manning: Understanding some of the key battles in Québec’s history is one of the best ways to begin to understand the mentality of Québec, and the relationship between French and English. This book is one of the best in terms of the major battles that helped to shape Québec’s future.
  • Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny: A local favourite, Louise Penny crafts a captivating murder mystery set in Québec City. Book six in her Chief Inspector Gamache series, you don’t need to read the first five to enjoy this story which will take you through some of our favourite places in Old Québec.
  • An Essential Winter Packing List: Planning to visit Québec City during the winter months? Make sure you pack these items for a warm and fun trip!
  • Winter Bucket List: 40+ Things to See & Do: The air may be crisp, and the ground may be covered in fluffy white snow, but there is still plenty to see and do in Québec City in winter!

 

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About The Author

Founder

Travel writer and photographer, Pamela has a deep love of all things Travel. She is an anglophone from Ontario who prefers living in Québec. An avid city explorer and chocolat chaud connoisseur, Pamela also writes for Québec Region blog, Savoir Faire Abroad and several other publications.

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