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. 


Road trip to the province of Quebec. Old town Quebec City.
The old town in Quebec City delivers lots of  European charm.

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.

Road trip to the province of Quebec. One of old town streets in Quebec City.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.

A road trip to the province of Quebec. Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal.
Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal looks even more beautiful at night.

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.

A road trip to the Province of Quebec. Detailed woodwork in Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal.
Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal is famous for its incredibly 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.

Raod trip to the Province of Quebec.Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal.
Do not miss this Quebec’s stunning attraction, Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal.

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.

Old Town Montreal becomes even more charming at night.
Pedestrian-friendly Old Town Montreal stays alive well into the night.

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.

You can easily spend a day enjoying Montreal Botanical Gardens.
You can easily spend a day enjoying the Montreal Botanical Garden.

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.

Montreal Botanical Gardens deliver a peaceful break from the city life.
Montreal Botanical Gardens deliver a peaceful break from city life.

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.

You can find many charming hotels in the Old Town Quebec.
You can find many charming hotels in Old Town, Quebec.

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.

Colorful houses in the Old Town Quebec City.
Stroll around and enjoy the colorful streets of Quebec City. 

Chateau Frontenac

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!

Chateau Frontenac dominates the sky of Quebec City.
Chateau Frontenac dominates the sky of Quebec City.

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.

Parking in the Old Town Quebec requires skills!
Parking in the Old Town Quebec requires skills! Consider that when making your hotel reservation.

Terrasse Dufferin

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.

Terrasse Dufferin delivers beautiful views of Saint Lawrence River and Chateau Frontenac.
Terrasse Dufferin delivers beautiful views of Saint Lawrence River and Chateau Frontenac.

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.

In the Lower Town of Quebec City, the charm overflows the streets.
In the Lower Town, Quebec City feels like Paris. 
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.

In tiny squares like Place Royale in Quebec City, you will feel like time stopped there.
In tiny squares like Place Royale in Quebec City, you will feel like time stopped there.

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.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in the Old Town Quebec City.
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in the Old Town Quebec City.

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.

Quebec City Mural in the Lower Town.
Quebec City Mural in the Lower Town.
Check here for more things to do in Quebec 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.

If you visit in early July, expected to be wowed with lupins 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.

Centre d'Art Marcel Gagnon, Quebec.
Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon, Quebec.

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.

The Grand Gathering in Quebec.
The Grand Gathering along Route 132 will make your imagination going.

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.

A wood bench along Route 132.
You will find art pieces everywhere you turn at Centre d’Art Marcel Gagnon, Quebec.

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.

Beach at Forillon National Park in the province of Quebec.
You will find beautiful beaches in Forillon National Park.

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.

Forillon National Park in Quebec.
If you like hiking, Forillon National Park delivers.

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!

Perce Rock offshore of Perce,Quebec.
Perce Rock offshore of Perce, Quebec.

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.

Perce Rock in Perce, Quebec.
To get a good view of the rock, take a boat tour.

In low tied, you can also get close to the rock on foot but do not walk too close! Falling rocks are dangerous.

Road trip to the Province of Quebec. Rocky beach near Perce Rock.
Check the tide time with your hotel if you want to hike to the rock.

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.

The boat to Bonaventure Island circles Perce Rock.
The boat to Bonaventure Island circles Perce Rock.

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.

A road trip to the province of Quebec. Gannet colony.
Northern gannets. What an amazing experience to get close to these beautiful birds.

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.

A road trip to the province of Quebec. A single gannet.
Absolutely amazing how close you can get to the birds. 

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.

Road trip to the province of Quebec. Le Surprise Hotel.
Hôtel La Côte Surprise met all my expectations for a relaxing stay.

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.

Road trip to the province of Quebec. What to see.


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