24 Hours In: Quebec City

This is where the French experienced a bloody defeat at the hands of the British. But their culture goes marching on
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The Independent Travel

Wake up to the history

08.00: Breakfast at Hotel Château Laurier (001 418 522 8108; vieux-quebec. com/laurier), a perfect place to stay while visiting one of the most historic cities in North America. This luxurious hotel is situated near the gateway to the old town, which is the heartbeat of French culture in Canada. The last walled city on the continent, Quebec is a treasure trove of history. All the main sights are within walking distance in a place that has more of a European feel than anywhere else on the other side of the Atlantic.

March along to the ancient fort

09.30: Visit La Citadelle (001 418 694 2815; lacitadelle.qc.ca), which in the 19th century was the city's first line of defence against potential attack from the east by the Americans. Begun by the French in 1750 and completed by the British 70 years later, the fort is still a military base. However, parts of it, including a military museum, are open to the public. Time your visit to coincide with the daily changing of the guard at 10am.

Park yourself on the battlefield

11.00: Take a stroll around the nearby Parc des Champs de Bataille (001 418 648 4071), the site of the bloody encounter in 1759 that changed the course of Canadian history as the British finally beat the French. Both Britain's General Wolfe and France's General Montcalm died in the battle. Today the huge 235-acre park has a host of attractions for young and old alike, including museums, in-line skating and multimedia shows. Guided tours leave from the Maison de la Découverte in Avenue Laurier.

Next stop: a fine railway hotel

13.00: Head back to the upper town. By now you should have worked up a decent appetite for lunch at the Château Frontenac (001 418 692 3861; fairmont.com/frontenac), which is said to be the world's most photographed hotel. Built in 1893 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, it towers over the St Lawrence river and dominates the Quebec skyline. Le Champlain is the hotel's classic restaurant, but the ideal eating place at lunchtime is the more casual Café de la Terrasse, which offers mouth-watering buffets. If you resist the tempting desserts you might also have time to take in one of the 50-minute guided tours of the building.

A modern take on the past

15.00: Take the short walk from the upper town to the lower town and visit the Musée de la Civilisation (001 418 643 2158; mcq.org), which is arguably the best museum in the province, giving a real feel for what life has been like in Quebec's short but turbulent history. The building itself is fascinating. Built in 1988, it incorporates some of the original 250-year-old buildings that were on the site and also features some classic design elements of Quebecois architecture, including slanted roofs (which ensure that snow cannot build up on them).

Join the throng at art central

17.00: Visit Place Royale and the surrounding streets. Painstakingly restored in the 1980s, this charming quarter (the whole district is known as Place Royale) is now home to a host of bars, restaurants, craft shops and art galleries. It can teem with visitors, but is well worth a visit.

Rise above it all on the Terrasse

19.00: If your legs are starting to go, fear not. You can walk back up to the old town, but you might prefer to take the cable car from Place Royale up to the Terrasse Dufferin. This delightful 450-yard esplanade offers wonderful views over the St Lawrence and is the perfect place for an early-evening stroll.

Here's Quebec on a plate

20.00: Central Quebec has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America and, from the huge selection, there is no better way to end the day than with dinner at Aux Anciens Canadiens (001 418 692 1627; auxancienscanadiens .qc.ca). The restaurant, which is housed in a charming building dating back to 1676, specialises in traditional Canadian dishes, such as caribou in blueberry sauce, buffalo casserole and maple syrup pie. PN

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