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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Québec is Canada's largest province, and Québec City is its heart and capital. It is the cradle of French culture in North America and its entire old town is UN World Heritage listed. It is also North America's only remaining walled town — a living museum, recounting French Canada's struggle for survival in British North America.

250 years ago, the English took control and a treaty was signed with the French giving them the power to speak their own language and to practice their religion. It was a turning point for French Canada.

Québec City is an architectural gem — churches, stone houses and narrow streets ooze charm, history and culture. Many residents are bi-lingual, but French is the first language of the vast majority.

The city is an important port, lying where the St Charles River meets the St Lawrence. Part of it sits on top of and around the cliffs of Cap Diamant giving superb views over the river and the town of Lévis. Québec is divided into Upper Town and Lower Town, each having old and new sections. Lower Town is where you will find rue Petit Champlain, the oldest commercial street in North America. The Citadel, a fort and famous landmark, overlooks the city from Cap Diamant, the highest point.

Walking around the cobblestone streets is the best way to enjoy the town. Narrow winding streets and hidden stairwells give a truly old European feel. Rue St Jean is where the bars and restaurants are.

The much-photographed copper-topped, castle-style ChĊteau Frontenac was built in 1892, high on a bluff overlooking the St Lawrence River and the historic Plains of Abraham. Old Town spreads below it and from there you can walk, or take a funicular, to the top of Upper Town.

Hotel Manoir Victoria's popularity began in the early 1830s. The art deco building is in the heart of historic Québec and offers warm and friendly European-style accommodation. The hotel has 156 rooms and suites, some with fireplace and whirlpool bath. There is fine dining at La Table du Manoir and Le St James Bistro.

If you fancy a trip out of town, just 45 minutes east is a favourite day-trip of the locals. Canyon Sainte-Anne and Sainte-Anne Falls. The 74 metre chasm was created over millions of years, and can be explored from a series of platforms, walkways and suspension bridges.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can climb up the canyon by a series of rungs which are bolted into the rock face. Ropes and carabineers keep you safe, and you do get the feeling of true mountain climbing.

Forty kilometres north of Québec City is Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier. Its deep valley is nestled among 600 metre high cliffs and traversed by a river of changing moods.

Witness a salmon swimming upstream, and with a little luck, a moose slowly going about its business, watering in the early morning mist. It has bodies of water for canoeing, kayaking and fishing, and ideal conditions for cycling, hiking and camping. In winter you can go snowshoeing, cross-country ski and dogsledding. Of course wildlife and plant life abound. Dense forests of yellow birch, sugar maples and black spruce mingle and present unbeatable beauty.

The Parc has introduced a Nature and Gastronomy Package for those who like to camp without sacrificing creature comforts and good food. The package is a combination of ecotourism activities — moose at dawn and beaver at dusk — and the comfort of the Lac a l'Epaule Lodge. Enjoy two evening meals, lunches and breakfasts prepared by an on-site chef, table service, minibus transportation, guided hike-moose tour, beaver canoe trip and talks about wildlife and flora. Black bear, timberwolf and Canadian lynx live in the area.


One of Canada’s eastern provinces.


Le ChĊteau Frontenac rooms start at around $265 a night.

Hotel Manoir Victoria rooms start at about $180 a night.

Lac a l'Epaule Lodge rooms start at around $148 a night.

Canyon Sainte-Anne Adventures start at around $35 per person and a two day Nature and Gastronomy package is around $415 per person twin share. The site is open daily between May and June 23, the day after Labour Day to October from 9am and 5pm. Between June 24 and Labour Day it opens from 8.30am to 5.45pm. Closed at other times.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

For further information

Le Chateau Frontenac
1 rue des Carrieres
PQ G1R 4PS Canada
Ph: 0011 1 418 692 1751

Hotel Manoir Victoria
44 Côte du Palais
Ph: 0011 1 800 463-6283

Canyon Ste Anne
206 route 138 Est C.P. 2087
Beaupré, Québec, Canada, G0A 1E0
Ph: 0011 1 418 827-4057
Fax : 0011 1 418 827-2492

Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier
Route 175
Québec, Canada G0A 4P0
Ph: 0011 1 418 848 3169 800 665 6527

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