The Sunday Post (Dundee)

A bit of ‘ooh la la’ in Quebec

North American city is all about history, tradition – and its fantastic cuisine

- By Katie Wood

IT’S North America’s only completely-walled city and the home of maple syrup.

Oozing with history, Quebec is arguably the most beautiful city in all of North America. I totally love it, and you will too.

It’s a stronghold of French culture unique in the Americas where less than 2% of the 520,000 population speak anything other than French as their national language (but they still understand you when you speak English – tick!).

Much smaller than Montreal, it’s the Edinburgh equivalent with Montreal being the Glasgow – both fab, but very different.

Montreal is more North American in its attitude, but when you’re in Quebec City, you might as well be in France.

Interestin­gly, the Scots had a major hand in the history and foundation of this beautiful city.

By the beginning of the 19th Century, poor Scottish immigrants, many the victim of the Highland and Lowland Clearances, saw unlimited opportunit­y in this huge forested land and settled here.

But even before that, in 1779, Scotsman Simon McTavish helped establish what would become the North West Company to compete in the fur trade with the English owned giant, the Hudson’s Bay Company.

There’s a St Andrew’s Presbyteri­an Church which is the oldest Englishspe­aking congregati­on of Scottish origin in Canada.

And even some of the architectu­re will remind you of Scotland.

Quebec is a green, hilly city, full of open spaces which means it’s a delight to explore on foot. Two places provide a superb overview of the city – the Dufferin Terrace in the Citadelle, a Unesco World Heritage Site that’s part of the fortificat­ions of the old city, and the 31st floor of the Observatoi­re de la Capitale.

A unique

– and unusual – place to visit is Le Monastère des Augustines, which occupies the historic wings of the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec monastery (from 1639).

It was the birthplace of the first hospital on the American continent, north of Mexico.

Sensitivel­y restored and redesigned, the Monastère now offers a unique ‘wellness’ (holistic spa) experience and many imaginativ­e ways to connect with the Augustinia­n Sisters’ remarkable heritage, all within a secular environmen­t.

It offers accommodat­ion in a 17th Century cloister, and also houses a museum tracing the evolution of medicine through the ages.

Another ‘must-do’ is the Morrin Centre. Built more than 200 years ago to house a prison, it’s now also the home to one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

A visit here lets you see the jail cells and learn more about the life of its prisoners and the conditions they endured. As part of the same visit you can also learn about Morrin College, the city’s first Englishlan­guage institute of higher education.

A short drive away are the thundering 272ft-high Montmorenc­y Falls, which are actually higher than the more famous Niagara Falls. There’s a boardwalk leading to a suspended footbridge that crosses the foaming white water, and cable cars take you to the very top.

In the foothills of the Laurentian Moutains is scenic Lac Beauport and there is also a bridge across to the Île d’Orléans, a veritable open-air museum with more than 600 historical buildings and traditiona­l villages.

I won’t recommend the hotel where I stayed because it was pretty poor (so avoid Hotel Royal William) but there are all sorts of great places to be found.

A wonderful hotel (and restaurant, even if you’re not staying) is Auberge Saint Antoine. Built on one of the city’s richest archaeolog­ical sites, it incorporat­es three historical buildings

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 ??  ?? You can’t miss the Scottish influence when you visit the city.
Quebec is the only walled city in North America and the home of maple syrup.
You can’t miss the Scottish influence when you visit the city. Quebec is the only walled city in North America and the home of maple syrup.

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