Quebec City — Other activities
Quebec City has so much to offer you could spend most of your ski vacation in the city without even venturing to the slopes. Here’s a sampling.
On the Terrasse Dufferin there is a not-to-be-missed, exciting toboggan ride that is open most days from 11 a.m to 11 p.m. You can ice skate at a rink nearby. The funicular (418-692-1132) is the shortest link between Dufferin Terrace at the Chateau Frontenac and Quartier Petit Champlain. This landmark and unique transportation vehicle provides commanding views of the St. Lawrence River, well worth the small charge. It is wheelchair accessible. Take a ferry ride across the river for a spectacular perspective of the walled city. It leaves every half hour during the day and every hour at night (418-644-3704).
The frozen falls at Montmorency Falls Park (418-663-3330) are one-and-a-half times higher than Niagara Falls. Cable cars, bridges lookouts and trails make it possible to get close to the falls. For ice climbing, L’Ascensation (418-647-4422) rents equipment and provides guides. At Village Vacances Valcartier (418-844-2200), 20 minutes north of the city, go snow rafting, sliding and tubing on 38 slides; skate through a forest; race go-karts on an ice-covered track; snowmobile, ride horseback, dogsled or take a sleigh ride.
In the city, you can cross-country ski on the Plains of Abraham (418-649-6476, information; 418-648-4212, trail conditions) or snowshoe or sleigh ride (418-687-0707). Station Touristique Duchesnay, surrounding the Ice Hotel, 20 minutes north of Quebec, has 150 km. of cross-country trails that wind almost exclusively through evergreens. Side-by-side tracks make cross-country for couples enjoyable. In the spring a stop at the sugar house is a good time.
The Greater Quebec has 1,512 km. of snowmobile trails. For rentals and guided tours, try Laurentides Sports Service Inc. in Charlesbourg (418-849-2824); Location S.M. Sport in Loretteville (418-842-2703); or Dion Moto (418-337-2776).
The history and culture of the region is captured in many museums and interpretation centers throughout Old Quebec City. Begin with a three-site ticket (C$8.50) for the Musee de la civilisation (85 rue Dalhousie, 418-643-2158), Musee de l’Amerique francaise (2 cote de la Fabrique, 418-692-2843) and Centre d’interpretation de Place-Royale (27 rue Notre-Dame, 418-646-3167). You’ll be swallowed up in human adventure, the origins of the French-speaking world and 400 years of Place-Royale—the first permanent French settlement in North America, established in 1608. (Winter hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday; admission is free every Tuesday).
Also worth visiting: Musee national des beaux-arts du Quebec (418-643-2150), the national art gallery partly housed in a former prison annexed to the 1933 museum by a glassed-in space (Wednesday has evening hours); Musee du Fort (418-692-2175) with a sound-and-light show about the famous battles of the city; and Musee d’art Inuit Brousseau (418-694-1828), the first museum dedicated exclusively to Inuit art and culture. The Citadelle (418-694-2815) is the largest military fortification in North America still occupied by regular troops and is the official residence of Governor General of Canada. It was built in 1820-1832.
The narrow streets of Le Quartier Petit Champlain, in Vieux-Quebec, are lined with ancient stone buildings housing boutiques with traditional and contemporary Canadian artwork, crafts, clothing and more. Artists sell their work on the pedestrian alleyway, Rue du Tresor, off Place d’Armes. The Galeries de la Capitale not only has 250 shops, but an amusement center. Boutique Metiers d’art at 29, Notre-Dame, has a vast collection of local and regional art. Potenciel L’Art de la Table, 27 rue du Petite Champlain, is a cook’s heaven of upscale tools, cookbooks and trinkets for the kitchen. Zazu Boutique, 31, rue du Petite Champlain, just down the narrow street, features one-of-a-kind Montreal and Quebec designer women’s clothing, such as hand-stitched parkas and coats with fur hoods and fashionable outer clothing for the below-zero temperatures in Quebec.