Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded in 1608 and is the oldest and only walled city in Canada. Bumping along the cobblestone streets, I can almost see French gentlemen in plumed hats (the ghost of city founder Samuel de Champlain, perhaps?) scanning the horizon for invaders. It’s a spring day, the sky is a brilliant blue and a warm breeze lightly ruffles patrons enjoying an espresso or un verre de vin at one of the numerous outdoor cafés. This is the kind of magical place that makes me want to explore, as well as to kick back and enjoy myself.
Quebec City is steeped in history and infused with a welcoming joie de vivre. Locals know how to celebrate the past as well as the present. I’ve visited in winter when the Quebec Winter Carnival’s icy castle shimmers behind fantastical stilt walkers. The Festival d’Été de Québec in July draws crowds that revel in sounds from the biggest names in pop music. And during August’s New France Festival, tourists suit up in wigs, tri-cornered hats, gowns and buckled shoes to celebrate the first Europeans who came to North America. Fall is the time to savour dishes made from the harvest of ancestral farms on nearby Ile d’Orléans. Every visit to Quebec City really come with a new experience. Taking a trip to the provincial capital is all about exploring a deep culture, basking in warm hospitality and, not least of all, indulging in mouth-watering cuisine. Let the adventure begin.