A Do-It-Yourself Port Day in Quebec City, Canada

by Janis on August 11, 2015

Sailing into Quebec City on the MaasdamWe visited Quebec City, Canada during a late-June 7-Day Canada and New England cruise on Holland America Line. After departing from Montreal onboard the ms Maasdam, we sailed up the Saint Lawrence River to reach Quebec City. Despite overcast weather, this route offered terrific views.

During a long-ago prior visit to Quebec City, we had taken a shore excursion to Montmorency Falls and Isle d’Orleans, where we toured a maple sugar shack (during a fall foliage cruise.) For this visit, we wanted to explore more of the historic areas of Quebec City.

mural in Quebec City, CanadaOut of the cruise port, we walked to the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) historic district located at the foot of Cap Diamant. Our first stop was to admire the mural that depicts the history of the Quebec City. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain built Place Royale in this area.

Quebec City Lower TownConstruction of the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church started in 1687 at this location and was completed in 1723. NOTE: It is ideal to visit the Lower Town early in the day; later it is filled with tourists and cruise ship guests.

Quebec City Lower Town to funicularLower Town is filled with unique local shops. Quebec City’s Haute-Ville (Upper Town) is reached from the Lower Town by your choice of the Escalier (“neck-breaking” steps) or the Old Quebec Funicular, a 210 ft. funicular railway that first opened on November 17, 1879.

Cochon Dingue, Quebec Citycappuccino, Cochon Dinguecrepe, Cochon DingueAfter walking around the Lower Town, Mr. Jones decided he needed a coffee and a little “nosh.” We noticed that the Cochon Dingle was packed with people inside and out (always a good sign), so we decided to try it out. GREAT CHOICE. The cappuccinos were killer and yes, I did have to try a bite of Mr. Jones’ crepe. “Plaisir” on the plate means “pleasure.”

2A funicular car allows for easy transportation up Cap Diamant< Quebec CityFueled and caffeinated, we were ready to tour the Upper Town. We bought our tickets and took the funicular up to the top of Cap Diamant.

Chateau Frontenac Hotel, Quebec City

The massive Chateau Frontenac Hotel dominates Quebec City’s skyline from the top of Cap-Diamant. The hotel was designed by architect Bruce Price as one of a series of “chateau” style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company. The railway company sought to encourage luxury tourism and bring wealthy travelers to its trains.

The Chateau Frontenac is said to be the world’s most photographed hotel, so of course we had to snap some shots.


Maasdam in Quebec CityIn front of the Chateau Frontenac Hotel is the Terrasse Dufferin (Dufferin Terrace) walkway along the edge of the cliff, offering picturesque views of the Saint Lawrence River and our cruise ship.

We also explored the ramparts surrounding Old Quebec, which are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico. The area inside the 2.85 miles of city walls was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

Musée du Fort, Quebec CityJust past the massive Chateau Frontenac hotel you will see the Musée du Fort, a museum on the military history of the area. Across the street is the Quebec City Tourism office, which has tons of helpful information and free Wi-Fi.  It is also the meeting place for a number of tours, such as The Grand Tour that we had previously booked online. We picked up our tickets from a booth inside the tourism office; you can also buy tickets here but tours are limited to 15 people and might be sold out if you do not purchase in advance.

The Grand Tour, Quebec CityWe picked up our tour stickers and met our guide for the 2-hour walking tour.  The Grand Tour covers the architecture, the marking events and the Quebec people’s history. It covers a number of Quebec historical sites such as the Citadel, Chateau Frontenac, Quebec fortifications, and the Place Royale.  The cost was $22.95 Canadian per adult.

the interior courtyard of the Seminary, Quebec CityWhen we entered the interior courtyard of the Seminary, we learned interesting facts about Basilica Notre-Dame de Québec (the first Roman Catholic Cathedral erected north of Mexico). We also discovered “fun facts” of Quebec City’s history, such as how the style of roofing (as on the building in the photo above) came to be. HINT: There’s lots of snow in Quebec City in the winter.

Quebec City, CanadaOur tour ended back in Lower Town near the base of the funicular.

Port of Quebec CityOne more highlight of note: the Quebec Port is a very nice facility with free Wi-Fi for cruise ship passengers and crew.

Fitbit trackingMy Fitbit showed that we walked a total of 17,023 steps which equaled 8.1 miles, so we got plenty of exercise in Quebec City.

Have you visited Quebec City via a cruise ship? How did you spend your time in port?

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