A bit of ‘ooh la la’ in Que­bec

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

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - Travel - 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

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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