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The boldness of the New World and the richness of French culture blend perfectly in the unique and beautiful province of Québec. Its crisp, fresh air, miles of forests, stunning vistas, and thriving cities are well worth your time; and you’ll leave with the longing to come back again. Here are seven tips for your travels to Québec, Canada.
Use Your French
If you took a French language class in high school or college, brush up on those language skills, because you’ll need them! Québec, Canada is a primarily French-speaking province, thanks to the predominance of French pioneers who settled it during the colonial days. In fact, the official language of the province is French. If you don’t know a word of the language, don’t worry— many Québec residents speak some English. You can also download a translation app to your smartphone to help you through tight spots.
Make a Stop in Québec City
Montreal is a grand and glorious city, to be sure, but in Québec City you’ll get a real sense of the French influence on the country. From flaky croissants to cheeses to fashion, this metropolis has a definite European vibe that tourists love. Check out the stunning Château Frontenac and the Old City, areas heavy with the charm of a time long past. Enjoy delicious fare, enchanting music, colorful festivals, well-stocked museums, and the talents of countless street artists and performers.
Know the History
Québec is Canada’s largest province in terms of area and its second largest in population, next to Ontario. While you’re there, keep in mind that Québec has a rocky relationship with the rest of Canada. Thanks to the efforts of the Québec sovereignty movement, the province has held multiple referendums attempting to force a secession from the rest of the country. In each case, the proposal has been rejected, at one point by a margin of just 0.58%. Keep this in mind when you chat with the Québecois about their province and their country as a whole.
Don’t Visit During the Winter
It might be tempting to take a trip up to Québec during the colds months to experience the delights of a true northern winter; but don’t do it. Heavy snowfalls can quickly clog major roads, causing significant delays. This is especially true if you’re journeying through the northern half of the province. You could be stuck in a tiny town like Chicoutimi for hours while the snowplows do their thing.
Check Out the Saguenay Fjord
The Saguenay Fjord is a spectacular sight, stretching a full 65 miles in length as it slices into the center of the province. The cliffs here are 300m high in some places. You’ll find plenty of spots for biking, camping, kayaking, or hiking along this route.
Located at the mouth of the fjord, this cute little town still holds elements of Québec’s colonial past. Make time for the whale-watching cruise and check out some of the hidden beaches along the coast. There are also some prime fishing spots in this area.
Go to the Far Edge of Civilization
Are you craving a really remote experience? Travel all the way up to tiny Sept-Îles, right on the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River’s widest point. In 2011, this town had about 25,600 people living in it. It is one of the furthest northern locations that has a paved link to Québec’s road network. Beyond that, there are just three more towns with paved roads: Radisson, Fermont, and Chisasibi. Even further north, there are only Inuit, Innu, or Cree settlements. If you hang around Sept-Îles, you can enjoy rocky beaches lined with salt-scented grasses, boating, whale-watching, fishing, and the simple beauty of nature.