As I was led to the town car from the international terminal, I took in a deep, cleansing breath. The air was so fresh, there was a light breeze and I could already feel the warmth of the people here.
As Robert, my driver, gave me a brief history of the city, I gazed out of the window and remarked at the beauty – the distinctive architecture of the homes and businesses, the verdant trees and colorful flowers, and the awe-inspiring mountains in the distance.
It seemed so much like the many places I have visited in Western Europe, and I could not wait to explore this exciting destination just north of the American border.
400 Years Old and Still Kicking!
Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is widely recognized as the cradle of French civilization in North America. Located in the heart of the St. Lawrence Valley, the Québec City region, which encompasses almost 3,500 square miles, is a close neighbor to the U.S. – just 381 miles from Boston, 524 miles from New York, and 728 miles from Detroit. Within Canada, Quebec City is only 151, 270 and 476 miles from Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto, respectively, and all of these cities are within the Province of Quebec, of which Quebec City is the capital.
The area’s first denizens were the Iroquois Indians, followed by European settlers—primarily from England and France—both of whom reigned over the area at different times in the city’s early history. But it was the French who made an indelible mark here as early frontiersman who desired to take advantage of the area’s notable topographical features, which include the Laurentian Mountains, the St. Lawrence River, and Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond), the high bluff that overlooks the river.
Because the river is so vast, extending some 745 miles, it was the perfect vehicle for commerce for various trades including furs, agriculture, travelling frontiersman, immigrants, and military entities, the latter playing a major role in the development of the city, area and province.
Home to close to 638,000 people and possessing four distinct seasons with a plethora of indoor and outdoor activities to suit all tastes and lifestyles, the Quebec City area has long been a favorite tourist destination for people from all over the globe. Each year close to 5 million flock here, a touch over a million of those coming from 75 countries outside of Canada. In Canada alone, Quebec City is the fourth most popular destination after Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver, and its low crime rate is another attractive factor that draws many people here to enjoy all that it has to offer.
There’s more to come.