Among all places we covered in this 12-day trip, Québec City — or more precisely, Old Québec — was by far our most highly anticipated travel destination. Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1985, Old Québec was characterized as “the cradle of the French civilization in America”. This city was the capital of New France until 1760 and it is the only fortified city on the continent north of Mexico. To put it this way… our experience in Old Montréal was great, but we had an extraordinary time in Old Québec.
Although we stayed for 6 nights in Québec City, we spent 2 days exploring the historic Old Québec by foot and the remaining days exploring the surrounding areas by vehicle. The weather was considerably colder in Québec City compared to Montréal. The mornings were usually in low 40s warming up to high 50s in the afternoons, but the cold weather didn’t deter us. We walked countless steps from day to night marvelling at the exquisite European architecture in historic places such as Quartier Petit Champlain, Place Royale, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac and Terrasse Dufferin.
A couple of observations…
- While French language is heavily used in Montréal, it is even more apparent in Québec City. Road signs, conversations, restaurant menus and establishment names are mostly in French. It did feel intimidating, but unlike the Parisians, the Québécois could not be any friendlier. We never encountered any unpleasant behaviors throughout our stay in this beautiful city. The locals tried their very best to communicate in basic English with us, and we tried our very best to sprinkle in common phrases such as “bonjour”, “bonsoir” and “merci beacoup”. When chatting with our AirBnb owner, we were told that Canadian French is slightly different from French.
- There were very few people strolling on the streets in the evening because most establishments were closed by 6 PM and the weather got much colder after the sun had set. Instead, most people spent their time dining and socializing in the restaurants or at home.
- It took us awhile to figure out how to activate the pedestrian traffic light before crossing the road, not knowing we just had to wave our hands below the sensor without touching it. When standing at a junction with 4-way traffic lights, we had to wait for every single traffic light to turn red before we could cross the road. The walking signals all activate at the same time. Hence, it was unsurprising to see most people jaywalking instead of standing at the junction for a long time.