Encircle Québec City, QC, Canada

There are several things to see outside the walls of Old Québec City. For starters, visit where the British defeated the French in 1759. Marvel at the magnificent Parliament Building. End your exploration at the stunning Montmorency Falls.

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1 Cap Diamant in Québec City, Canada

You are standing on Cap Diamant. This is the city’s highest point at 330 feet. The hill is named Cape Diamond because French explorer Jacques Cartier mistook quartz as diamonds here in 1542. Now it is your turn to explore. Next to you is La Citadelle. Toward the Saint Lawrence River is the scenic Governors’ Promenade (the direction described in the Old Québec City travel guide). Immediately west is Battlefields Park where this Encircle Québec City guide will begin. Before you go, enjoy viewing three of the city’s tallest high-rises. On the left is Édifice Marie-Guyart at 415 feet. In the middle is Place Hauteville (351 feet), more commonly known as Hôtel Delta Québec. On the right is the 276 foot Hôtel Hilton Québec. Between them is the Parliament Building. At 171 feet, this was the tallest structure from 1886 until 1924.

Ave du Cap-Diamant, Québec, QC G1K 4J2, Canada

2 Plains of Abraham Museum in Québec City, Canada

Before or after walking around Battlefields Park, save time to visit the Plains of Abraham Museum. You will be fascinated by the exhibits while learning about the turning point of Québec City, the destiny of New France and why this urban park richly deserved to be the first National Historic Site in Canada.

835 Wilfrid-Laurier Ave, Québec, QC G1R 2L3, Canada

3 Description of Battlefields Park in Québec City, Canada

Have a seat and savor the Saint Lawrence River while learning about Battlefields Park (commonly called the Plains of Abraham). This is the city’s largest urban greenspace. The 250 rolling acres are lined with paved roads and walking trails. This creates a haven for joggers, cyclists and strollers. The open spaces are perfect for basking in the sun. Families gravitate to picnic tables. Everything is the essence of serenity. But this is also the site of violent history. During one hour on September 13, 1759, about 4,400 British regulars overran 3,400 French soldiers and militia. This victory in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham transferred Québec City to the British. The Battle of Québec also marked the beginning of the end for New France. A second skirmish between the two countries was the Battle of Sainte-Foy on April 28, 1760. Although the French technically won, it was too little too late. On February 10, 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed. This ended the Seven Years’ War. France agreed to a long list of concessions, including transferring sovereignty of Canada to the British.

Battlefields Park, Québec, QC G1R 2L7, Canada

4 Martello Tower at Battlefields Park in Québec City, Canada

At the start of the 19th century, tensions were thick between the British and Americans along the Canadian border. The British worried about a possible assault on Québec City. Among their preparations, they built four Martello towers on the Plains of Abraham in 1812. Although the War of 1812 soon erupted along the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River, these defenses were never tested. Tourists thoroughly enjoy going inside Martello Tower Number 1 at Battlefields Park.

Martello Tower 1, Battlefields Park, Québec, QC G1R 2L7, Canada

5 Centennial Fountain at Battlefields Park in Québec City, Canada

There are several flower beds within the Plains of Abraham. The largest is the Joan of Arc Garden with over 150 species of plants. This horticultural setting for a statue of Joan of Arc was created in 1938 by Louis Perron. Another garden is between this service pavilion and the Edwin-Bélanger Bandstand. In the center is the Centennial Fountain. The monument was erected in 1967 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. This act unified British colonies into the Dominion of Canada with four provinces: Québec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Edwin-Bélanger Bandstand, Battlefields Park, Québec, QC G1R 2L7, Canada

6 Charles Baillairgé Pavilion of Fine Arts Museum in Québec City, Canada

At the west end of Battlefields Park is the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec. The first of the museum’s four buildings you will encounter is the Charles Baillairgé Pavilion. This was a prison for over a century from 1867 until 1970. The former city jail is named after Charles Baillairgé. He was a prolific 19th century architect in Québec City. He was also the designer of some of Canada’s most famous government structures on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. After an extensive renovation by the museum, this pavilion opened in 1991. Inside are exhibits of modern art and a small café.

179 Grande Allée O, Québec, QC G1R 2H1, Canada

7 Central Pavilion of Fine Arts Museum in Québec City, Canada

The glass pyramid of the Central Pavilion is a sharp contrast to the former prison you just visited. Architects Charles Dorval and Louis Fortin designed most of this 1991 structure underground in order to maintain the integrity of Battlefields Park. The Central Pavilion is the visitors center for the National Museum of Fine Arts of Québec. Check in here for tickets to the art museum.

179 Grande Allée O, Québec, QC G1R 2H1, Canada

8 General James Wolfe Monument in Québec City, Canada

Among the National Museum of Fine Arts buildings is a tribute to General James Wolfe erected in 1832. He was the commander of the British troops during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. After being struck by bullets in the opening moments of combat, he fell to the ground and moaned, “Now, God be praised, I will die in peace.” This column featuring a helmet and sword marks the spot where he died. The leader of the French, General Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm, was also wounded. He succumbed the following day. Interestingly, there is an obelisk near Château Frontenac named the Wolfe–Montcalm Monument honoring both men. This is a rarity among military monuments to recognize opposing heroes.

1291 Avenue Wolfe Montcalm, Québec, QC G1R 2H1, Canada

9 Pierre Lassonde Pavilion of Fine Arts Museum in Québec City, Canada

The permanent collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts of Québec consists of over 40,000 works. They are predominantly by artists from Québec City or the province. The oldest pieces date back to the 16th century. The artwork is display in a dozen galleries. MNBAQ’s newest exhibition space is the modernist Pierre Lassonde Pavilion by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It opened in 2016. The 160,000 square foot facility houses contemporary art. The namesake is a successful mining executive in Canada. Pierre Lassonde has been a major benefactor of Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

179 Grande Allée O, Québec, QC G1R 2H1, Canada

10 Church of Saint Dominic in Québec City, Canada

The friars from the Dominican Order came to the city in 1906. Their arrival was late compared to other religious missionaries. On Christmas Day in 1930, they celebrated their first Mass inside Saint-Dominique Church. From the exterior, the Roman Catholic church looks much older thanks to its English Gothic Revival design by Joseph-Albert LaRue. This style, also called Victorian Gothic, originated in England during the 18th century.

175 Grande Allée O, Québec, QC G1R 2H1, Canada

11 Grand Théâtre de Québec in Québec City, Canada

This reflective-glass design by architect Victor Prus is your invitation to come inside the best performing arts complex in the city. The Grand Théâtre de Québec has two halls: Salle Louis-Fréchette (capacity for 1,875) and the smaller Salle Octave-Crémazie (506 seats). They regularly stage productions by the city’s professional opera and symphony companies plus Théâtre du Trident. Equally popular is the annual summer festival (Festival d’été de Québec). This is also the permanent residence of the music school named Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Québec.

269 Boulevard René-Lévesque E, Québec, QC G1R 2B3, Canada

12 Observation Decks in Québec City, Canada

Since the mid-1970s, Hôtel Le Concorde Québec has been one of two great viewing platforms overlooking the city, Battlefields Park and the Saint Lawrence River. Le Ciel! is the hotel’s revolving restaurant and bistro bar. They serve a 360° panorama with fine cuisine and cocktails. The combination consistently warrants very high ratings. Hôtel Le Concorde is the fourth largest high-rise in Québec City at 299 feet. The other excellent observation deck at 433 feet is Observatoire de la Capitale. The attraction is located on the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building.

1225 Place Montcalm, Québec, QC G1R 4W6, Canada

13 Grande Allée Neighborhood in Québec City, Canada

Grande Allée is a tree-lined street running parallel to Battlefields Park. The neighborhood is filled with lovely European-style residences built by the wealthy and social elite from the mid-19th century until the end of the Victorian era in 1901. Now, they are filled with restaurants, bistros and outdoor cafes. At night, the clubs, discos and bars offer great entertainment and socializing. The area also hosts seasonal festivals. If you only have a short time to check it out, buy a cup of coffee to accompany your stroll.

684 Grande Allée E, Québec, QC G1R 2K5, Canada

14 Québec City Armoury in Québec City, Canada

The Châteauesque façade of Voltigeurs de Québec Armoury is impressive. The drill hall was designed by Eugène-Étienne Taché and opened in 1887. This served as a training facility for a reserve infantry regiment named Les Voltigeurs de Québec. Then a major fire in 2008 destroyed most of the National Historic Site. It took a decade and over $100 million to restore Québec City Armoury. Today, this is a venue for cultural and special events.

805 Wilfrid-Laurier Ave, Québec, QC G1R 2L3, Canada

15 André Laurendeau Building in Québec City, Canada

Directly behind the Parliament is the André Laurendeau Building. The eleven-story, Beaux-Arts structure houses the offices of the lieutenant governor of Québec. The governor general of Canada appoints this position for all provinces. The role is a representative for the monarchy of Canada, a parliamentary democracy. The head of state is the monarch of the United Kingdom. The building’s namesake is André Laurendeau. During the mid-20th century, he was an influential politician, newspaper editor, television host and author.

1050 Rue des Parlementaires, Québec, QC G1A 1A3, Canada

16 Parliament Building in Québec City, Canada

The largest of Canada’s ten provinces by area and the second biggest by population is Québec. The province was established by the British in 1763 after they defeated the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Québec City is the capital. In 1877, the British hired architect Eugène-Étienne Taché to design the Parliament Building. He chose a style that was popular in France for grand and lavish edifices: Second Empire, also called Napoleon III. The ornate central tower stands 171 feet. This is home to the 125 members of the National Assembly of Québec, the legislative body for the province. L’Hôtel du Parlement also provides offices for the lieutenant governor, the representative for the monarch of the United Kingdom. Guided and self-guided tours are available. You can also watch parliamentary proceedings when in session.

1045 Rue des Parlementaires, Québec, QC G1A 1A3, Canada

17 Tourny Fountain at Parliament Building in Québec City, Canada

Tourny Fountain was one of two created in the mid-19th century. The pair was originally located along Allées de Tourny in the city of Bordeaux, France. In 2007, this version was installed in front of the Parliament Building. The unveiling event helped celebrate Québec City’s quadricentennial anniversary. The sculptures created by Mathurin Moreau are marvelous. At the base of the 23 foot fountain are frogs spouting water. In the center are bronze images from Greek mythology: Neptune, Acis, Amphitrite and Galatea. Near the top are four children standing among carp and clam shells.

Place de l'Assemblée-Nationale, Québec, QC G1R 3V9, Canada

18 Convention Centre in Québec City, Canada

The Québec City Convention Center opened in 1996 on Parliament Hill at the outer edge of Old Québec. The project was a joint venture between the province and the Canadian government. The modern facility features over 300,000 square feet of exhibition space. Centre des Congrès de Québec is bookend by the city’s two largest hotels: Delta by Marriot and Hilton.

1000 Boulevard René-Lévesque E, Québec, QC G1R 5T8, Canada

19 Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins Monument in Québec City, Canada

In 1900, Alphonse Desjardins and his wife Dorimène opened Canada’s first savings bank in Québec named Caisse d’épargne Desjardins. Within 15 years, they founded 146 additional caisses. These became the model for credit unions across North America during the 20th century. His company, now called Desjardins Group, operates nearly 300 credit unions in Canada. This bronze tribute to the co-founders is titled, “At the Threshold of a Century.” The monument by Pascale Archambault is located outside of the Convention Centre on Promenade Desjardins.

1000 Boulevard René-Lévesque E, Québec, QC G1R 5T8, Canada

20 Gare du Palais in Québec City, Canada

Canadian Pacific built the first transcontinental railway across Canada in the late 19th century. They also constructed Québec City’s famous Château Frontenac in 1893. About 20 years later, CPR asked architect Harry Prindel to design a new train station in a Château style similar to their famous hotel. Today, from a transportation perspective, Gare du Palais is a shadow of the past. Only about 12 trains arrive here daily from Montreal and Ottawa. This is also an intercity bus terminal. Yet, since the historic facility was extensively refurbished, the station is a joy to visit. Step beneath the 40 foot window and between the twin turrets to experience a small sample of Canada’s Golden Age of Railways.

450 Rue de la Gare du Palais, Québec, QC G1K 3X2, Canada

21 Health and Welfare Building in Québec City, Canada

Neighboring Gare du Palais is an equally divine – perhaps more impressive – edifice resembling a French château. The exterior is a harmony of red brick with white stone accents. The green copper roof embraces several dormers and tourelles (turrets) capped with pointed finials. This was a postal service when it opened in 1940. Today, it is the Health and Welfare Building occupied by the Government of Canada.

330 Rue de la Gare du Palais, Québec, QC G1K 3X2, Canada

22 Montmorency Falls near Québec City, Canada

The sounds and sights of water dropping 276 feet over the Montmorency Falls are impressive. You can watch the cascade from atop the suspension bridge while feeling the mist along the walkways. Or venture down the long staircase to the basin. The falls are nearly 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls. This marvelous display of nature is about eight miles from Old Québec City.

Montmorency Falls Vista Point, 5300 Boulevard Sainte-Anne, Québec, QC G1C 1S1, Canada