How about a road trip to the province of Quebec in Canada for your next vacation? If you are craving European charm but do not want the trouble and cost of flying, Montreal and Quebec City will satisfy your desire. If you prefer nature, once you leave the big cities, you will be greeted by fresh air, beauty, and serenity. Follow Route 132 along the Saint Lawrence River to find stunning vistas, national parks, colorful meadows, and picturesque villages on the Atlantic Ocean. Then to top it all, visit Bonaventura Island, where you can observe a colony of northern gannets, 120000 of them, right at your feet! Here is your road trip itinerary to beautiful Quebec.
A ROAD TRIP TO PROVINCE OF QUEBEC IN CANADA -WHAT TO SEE
I visit Europe frequently so I can tell that when it comes to European charm, Montreal and Quebec City can easily compete with their European counterparts. Also, even though they do get crowded, they do not experience the stampede found in top touristy cities across the pond, for instance, Dubrovnik or Venice. But consider cities as a small part of the road trip to the province of Quebec. Beyond them, you will find a world of open spaces, beautiful nature, and peacefulness.
You will find a taste of Europe in Quebec City.
Montreal, Quebec – What to see
Montreal delivers a fascinating combination of French, English, and various other cultures. Its mix of European and North-American colonial and modern architecture gives the city a uniquely appealing charm.
Notre Dame Basilica Quebec
In my opinion, Notre Dame Basilica tops Montreal’s major attraction. Built between 1824 and 1829, it is the first church of the Gothic Revival style in Canada. The structure features dual towers reminiscent of Notre Dame in Paris.
Montreal’s oldest Catholic church’s fame comes from its intricately designed interior, which includes stained glass, chronicling the history of the city, gold leaves, shades of blue, thousands of stars, and detailed woodwork.
Guided tours are available daily. Make sure to experience AURA, an immersive light and sound show that celebrates the beauty of the church.
Old Town Montreal
Discover one of North America’s most charming, well-preserved, and walkable historical districts. Take a walk through the narrow cobblestone streets of Montreal’s Parisian-style historic district where you will find cultural landmarks, museums, boutiques, sidewalk cafes, and restaurants.
Walk up Rue Saint-Urbain for a splendid view of the Basilique Notre-Dame and Place d’Armes. Explore Rue des Récollets and Rue Sainte-Hélène, which are bordered by some of the oldest houses and lampposts in Montreal. Then walk along the river for the view of the city and its green areas.
Montreal Botanical Garden
The Montreal Botanical Garden earned its spot among the top gardens in the world with its collection of 22,000 plant species and cultivars, 10 exhibition greenhouses, and more than 20 thematic gardens spread out over 75 hectares. The Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations Gardens draw the most interest among visitors.
If you are hoping to see living plant sculptures that show in the internet search of Montreal Botanical Garden, I have to warn you, they are not there. The pictures are showing creations from a one-time international competition that took place in 2013.
Check more attractions in Montreal here.
Quebec City – what to see
Perched atop a cliff overlooking Saint Lawrence River, the capital city of Quebec will satisfy your appetite for a European charm with its narrow cobblestone streets, world-famous castle, and European architecture. North America’s third oldest city and the only fortified city north of Mexico invites visitors with its rich history, picturesque architecture, and fantastic food and wine scene.
Old Town Quebec
The Historic District of Old Quebec, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1985, has a distinct European feel with its stone buildings and winding streets lined with shops and restaurants. I absolutely loved it there. With no overwhelming number of must-sees in the city, you can spend your time strolling around and enjoying outdoor cafes.
Quebec City’s most famous landmark, Chateau Frontenac, dominates the city’s skyline. The castle belongs to the group of Canada’s grand railway hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway. You will find it in Old Quebec, within the historic district’s Upper Town. It also the most photographed hotel in the world!
Citadelle of Quebec
Also located in Upper Town, the citadel contains the oldest military building in Canada and forms part of the fortifications of Quebec City. Guided tours of the Citadelle include a self-guided tour of the new Musee Royal 22e Regiment, a modern interactive museum in the historic East Casemate.
Situated just below Chateau Frontenac, Terrasse Dufferin invites locals and visitors alike with its long promenade offering spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River, Chateaux Frontenac, and the lower town.
Lower Town Quebec City
This area also can impress with its abundance of European charm. The upper and lower town are linked by numerous steep stairs or the Old Quebec Funicular accessible from the Dufferin terrace or from rue du Petit-Champlain. The upper station is adjacent to the Parks Canada kiosk and behind the famous Château Frontenac.
Rue du Petit-Champlain
The Petit Champlain area, located along the waterfront in the Lower Town, stands out as an especially charming corner of Old Quebec. Rue du Petit-Champlain lined with shops and restaurants, draws tourists from around the world, and can get really crowded but still remains delightful.
Place Royale (Royal Square) and Notre-Dame des Victoires church
This small cobblestone square in the Old Port is where it all started—the site where Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608. Today Place-Royale is lined with boutiques and restaurants housed in carefully restored buildings.
Make sure to see Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, one of the oldest stone churches in North America. The church is closed from November to May, except Sunday.
Quebec City Mural
La Fresque des Quebecois is a beautiful large mural, created by three artists from Paris. They came to Quebec City about 20 years ago and studied the history of the city.
Road Trip to the Province of Quebec – Route 132
Route 132, an attraction on its own, will take you along the cliffy coast of the Gaspe Peninsula’s north shore. It follows the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. You will have a road to yourself with stunning views and numerous lighthouses along the way.
Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon and Le Grand Rassemblement
When following Route 132 during your road trip to the province of Quebec, devote some time to visit Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon. Stop to explore an art gallery featuring the works of painters Guillaume Gagnon, Ghislaine Carrier, Isabelle Gagnon, and Marcel Gagnon. I suggest staying there overnight at Auberge Marcel Gagnon that offers 3-star accommodations featuring a private beach area and terrace.
I absolutely loved the outdoor feature called Le Grand Rassemblement, (The Grand Gathering), a unique large-scale art project composed of over 100 sculptures emerging from the water of Saint Lawerence River. The scene transforms under your eyes, according to the tides. The statues, made individually of reinforced concrete, weigh more than 685 kg each. The aura of the scene truly captivated my soul.
You will find plenty of other artwork to appreciate at the center, including the beautifully ornamented wooden bench. You can bring your own picnic or eat at the restaurant. I did not eat there, but the menu looked very good.
Forillon National Park, Quebec
Created in 1970, Forillon was the first national park in Quebec. The park invites visitors to experience pure mountain wilderness, with remarkable hiking trails, vast vistas from the rugged cliffs, and pebble beaches in quiet coves.
The park protects a range of varied little ecosystems: natural prairies, farm fields, seaside cliffs, rivers, lakes, marshes, the seashore itself, and forest. It certainly will appeal to nature lovers.
Perce and Perce Rock
Perce was the most relaxing part of the road trip to the Province of Quebec. This fishing village and summer resort lies along the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the east end of the Gaspe Peninsula. In addition to great outdoor activities, it offers many great restaurants serving Atlantic lobster!
Most visitors come to see the famous Perce Rock, located offshore but connected by a sandbar at low tide. The rock, 290 feet (88 meters) high, is pierced by a 60-foot- (18-meter) high arch.
In low tied, you can also get close to the rock on foot but do not walk too close! Falling rocks are dangerous.
7. Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park
The best experience of my trip to the province of Quebec was a visit to Bonaventure Island, located a short boat drive from Perce. The island hosts a huge colony of northern gannet, one of the largest seabirds of the North Atlantic.
Although only 2.5 miles (4 km) long, it provides sanctuary for thousands of nesting gannets from April to November. More than 60,000 pairs of gannets claim the cliffs of Bonaventure Island. In addition, over 200 different species of birds have been recorded visiting the area.
In addition to a round-trip boat fare, you need to purchase a park pass in Perce at the Parks Canada store near the marina. Walking from the pier to the gannet colonies on the island takes about 45 minutes by the shortest trail. You can get really close to the birds without disturbing them.
You will find other hotels in Perce, but I strongly recommend Hôtel La Côte Surprise. Located on Route 132, just outside of the village, this hotel offers the best views of the Perce Rock, a restaurant, a pub, and plenty of parking.
If you want to see more of Canada during your road trip
After visiting the province of Quebec, I spend two days in a world-class attraction of Hopewell Rock in New Brunswick and continued a road trip to amazing Nova Scotia. All three provinces offer lots to see.
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