Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie © Deschênes, Steve

Discovering Quebec | A Journey Through Time and Nature

Quebec represents much more to us than just a travel destination. It’s a second home. It all began with a honeymoon in Gaspésie, followed by our expatriation. Gradually, we found our bearings, built a home, and started a family. For years, our vacations were synonymous with the snowy slopes of Mont Sutton or Le Massif de Charlevoix, the splendor of the Magdalen Islands, the wild beauty of Gaspésie, and the serenity of Lac Saint-Jean.

Each family visit was an opportunity for adventure across the vast expanses of this beautiful province. We traveled countless miles through lakes and majestic forests…

Even though we are now on another continent, our attachment to Quebec remains deep. With a special sense of nostalgia, I revisit the best moments of trips filled with the sweet scent of maple syrup and the exquisite taste of Île d’Orléans wine.

© Tower of Songs, El Mac & Gene Pendon – Photo Susan Moss


With nearly 2 million inhabitants, Montreal stands at the heart of the province of Quebec. As the largest city in the province and the second-largest in Canada, Montreal serves as a major economic, cultural, political, and social hub. Therefore, a visit to Quebec would be incomplete without spending a few days in such a vibrant and dynamic city.

Founded in 1642 by French settlers, Old Montreal, also known as the Old Port, stands out as one of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. Its cobbled streets and historic buildings, including the majestic Notre-Dame Basilica, Place Jacques-Cartier, and Montreal City Hall, bear witness to the city’s rich past, offering an eclectic blend of French and British styles.

Place Jacques-Cartier © Poulin, Stéphan

Tourists and Montrealers alike stroll along the quays of the Old Port, finding a spot at a terrace table to enjoy the view of the harbor and the Saint Lawrence River.

© Laulinea
Old Montreal, Quebec

Exploring the city by bike is highly enjoyable when weather permits. From the Old Port, head towards the Jacques-Cartier Bridge to reach the site of the Biosphere and traverse the famous Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit.

© Société du parc Jean-Drapeau
Biosphère, environmental museum

Returning to Montreal, pass by Habitat 67, an architectural structure designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie for the 1967 Montreal World Exposition.

© Eva Blue – Tourisme Montreal

Continuing along the Lachine Canal, inaugurated in 1825, this canal allowed ships to bypass the rapids of the Saint Lawrence River to reach the Great Lakes region. Closed to commercial navigation in the 1970s, the canal was revitalized in the following decades. Lined with trails, parks, and bike paths, it now offers residents and visitors numerous opportunities for outdoor walks and activities.

© Eva Blue – Tourisme Montreal

Nearby, Atwater Market offers many options for a gourmet break before exchanging the banks of the Saint Lawrence for the heights of Mount Royal.

© Eva Blue – Tourisme Montreal

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind Central Park, and inaugurated in 1876, Mount Royal Park spans over 200 hectares in the heart of Montreal.

© Eva Blue – Tourisme Montreal

A true nature oasis, the park attracts tourists who come to admire the spectacular panoramic view of the city as well as Montreal residents who engage in various activities throughout the year.

© Freddy Arciniegas

Visiting Montreal also means…

A stroll along the Old Port quays and a bike ride are just the beginning of what Montreal has to offer. Here are some additional activity suggestions to experience the pulse of the metropolis:

  • Explore the 30 kilometers of multi-level underground labyrinth that allows you to move from one shopping center to another, reach numerous restaurants and tourist attractions without ever stepping outside. Impressive in any season, especially appreciated when it’s -20°C outside!
  • Visit the Biodome, an indoor complex that is part zoo, part aquarium, recreating four ecosystems from North America and subantarctic islands.
  • Between February and April, venture out of the city to indulge in a sugar shack experience! During sugaring season, maple syrup producers open their doors to offer various maple-based dishes and several activities to entertain both young and old, such as sleigh rides, hikes, and tastings. Over time, several chefs (including Martin Picard and his Sugar Shack at Pied de Cochon, among others) have embarked on the sugaring adventure… A feast awaits!
  • Stroll through the streets of Plateau Mont-Royal and indulge in one of Quebec’s culinary classics: bagels at Fairmount and Saint-Viateur, smoked meat at Schwartz’s, or poutine at La Banquise.
  • Take a walk through the 75 hectares of greenhouses and thematic gardens at the Botanical Garden. In spring, visit the adjacent Japanese garden to celebrate o-hanami (flower viewing) under one of the countless blooming cherry trees.
  • Head to the 45th and 46th floors of Place Ville Marie for a high-flying culinary experience offered by Hiatus, the trendiest new rooftop terrace in Montreal.
  • See life through rose-colored glasses by spending a night in the dream Barbie Suite at the Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth.
  • Visit the foot of Saint Joseph’s Oratory to discover the world’s second-largest copper dome, after Saint Peter’s in Rome.

Eastern Townships

About a hundred kilometers east of Montreal, the Eastern Townships offer picturesque landscapes where vineyards, green hills, and authentic villages mingle. From the Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey to Mount Orford, it is a region rich in history that delights art lovers, gourmets, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac © Dupuis, Mathieu

From camping to 5-star hotels, accommodation options abound in the region. Among them, the sumptuous Manoir Hovey, a Relais & Châteaux nestled on the shores of Lake Massawippi, offers 39 luxurious rooms and suites and gourmet meals finely prepared by Chef Alexandre Vachon.

Hovey Manor, Quebec
Copyright @Manoir Hovey


Across the Saint Lawrence River, between the cities of Montreal and Quebec City, Mauricie is another region renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes. Forests, lakes, waterfalls, and rivers delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as fishing, hiking, and canoeing.

Kayaking at Lac Clair © Alexandre Grégoire

With an area of over 536 km², Mauricie National Park is a vast territory of dense forests, crystalline lakes, winding rivers, and imposing mountains, offering spectacular viewpoints and remarkable biodiversity.

La Mauricie National Park © Harmony Le Reste

Random observations may yield sightings of moose, white-tailed deer, beavers, and even black bears. We were fortunate enough to glimpse a mother and her three cubs just before leaving the park. A beautiful encounter, albeit too short 🙂

Copyright @Alexandre Brondino on Unsplash

For those who wish to extend the encounter, it is possible to accompany a guide in the late afternoon for 90 minutes of black bear observation in its natural habitat.

The ultimate experience? Getting there by seaplane, for an experience as unique as it is memorable. For nature lovers and epicureans alike, it is possible to combine a seaplane flight with a unique culinary experience on a deserted beach or in the middle of a lake. Gourmet aperitif at sunset, picnic with local products, or gourmet meal prepared by a chef, the experience is inevitably magical!

Hôtel Sacacomie © Savard, Christian

Quebec City

Less than a 2-hour drive from Mauricie National Park, Quebec City combines history, culture, and architecture in a warm atmosphere.

Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. The city is marked by events that have shaped Canada’s history, such as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic center of the city, also known as Old Quebec, is a mixture of cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and imposing fortifications. It exudes a uniquely European atmosphere in North America.

Château Frontenac and the St. Lawrence River seen from the Pierre-Dugua-De-Mons terrace © Frenette, Jean-François

More than just a hotel, the Château Frontenac is truly the city’s icon. Designed by architect Bruce Price in 1893, the monument boasts a neo-Scottish castle architectural style that evokes a sense of romance and grandeur.

Perched on the cliff of Cap Diamant, the Château Frontenac dominates the landscape of Old Quebec, symbolizing its history, elegance, and timeless charm. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most photographed hotels in the world.

Copyright @Nathan Feyssat on Unsplash

Just minutes from downtown Quebec City, Montmorency Falls are worth a visit to admire the view from the suspended bridge that spans the 83 meters of these falls, higher than Niagara Falls.

Chute Montmorency © Leroyer, Gaëlle

Just across, Île d’Orléans, nicknamed the Garden of Quebec, is a haven known for its orchards, vineyards, farms, and rural landscapes. The island is easily explored by car, on foot, or by bike. Here, you can taste numerous local products, including strawberries, apples, wines, and cheeses. On a clear day, enjoying an apéritif on the pier at Quai de Sainte-Pétronille, with Quebec City as the backdrop, is delightful.

Chute Montmorency © Bergeron, Jean-François
Vignoble l’Isle de Bacchus © Bergeron, Jean-François


Heading north, the region of Charlevoix captivates with endless panoramas overlooking the St. Lawrence River. In winter, skiers from around the world come to enjoy slopes that seem to lead straight into the frozen waters of the river.

Le Massif de Charlevoix © Leroyer, Gaëlle

Not far away, Parc des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie attracts climbing and hiking enthusiasts eager to tackle imposing cliffs rising along the turbulent waters of the river.

Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie © Carbonneau, Pierre

For thrill-seekers, Charlevoix is the perfect region for a helicopter flight to inaccessible beaches and dizzying peaks. Enjoying an aperitif atop a lighthouse, snowshoeing on one of Charlevoix’s summits, or observing whales and moose from the air, there’s something for everyone here 🙂


The final stop of the journey: Tadoussac. Gateway to the Saguenay Fjord, where deep waters are bordered by high rocky cliffs, Tadoussac is renowned as one of the best places in the world to observe whales, primarily between May and October.

Every year, thousands of visitors come to Tadoussac for the unique experience of spotting whales (common rorquals, belugas, and humpback whales), as well as seals, dolphins, porpoises, and various seabird species in their natural habitat.

A beautiful way to conclude this journey 🙂

Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park © Dubé, Catherine
Little chapel of Tadoussac (Chapelle des Indiens) © C.-D.Robitaille
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