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Quebec City's Old-World Charm


One of my favorite ports while sailing Viking’s Canadian Discovery expedition cruise is Quebec City.

Like Viking's famous river boats, because of its size, Polaris, one of the cruise line's new expedition ships, could dock close to many cities, making it easy for passengers to walk off the boat and right into Quebec City.

Walking and motor coach tours, often offered in the morning, allow passengers to explore independently in the afternoon. My friend Anne and I took a walking tour and ventured out alone; a great combination to explore a port. (If the ship doesn't dock in a convenient place, Viking usually provides a shuttle bus to take passengers into the heart of the community.)

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We decided to take a photography tour. Old Town offers breathtaking views to enjoy and photograph.


Old Town is a historic neighborhood of Quebec City. Comprised of the Upper and Lower Towns, the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our guide, a friendly young woman with the patience of a saint, took her charges to different vantage points for great photos. Anne, a man, and I have 35 mm DSLR cameras, and the rest of the participants have cell phone cameras. We are all enjoying the tutorial which includes a history of the city.

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In 1608, Samuel de Champlain established the Lower City as an area for residents. The view of the Château Frontenac, perched castle-like above the St. Lawrence River, was our first photographic subject. Later, we wandered through the narrow streets, making discoveries like Umbrella Alley and the oldest standing Catholic church, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, completed in 1723.

We took a funicular to the Upper City and Dufferin Terrace, 200 feet above the waterway, where explorer Samuel de Champlain built his fort in 1620, offering sweeping views.

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It has remained the city's military and administrative center because of its strategic position atop the promontory of Cap Diamant. It was occupied mainly by British government officials and Catholic clergy after the British Conquest, while French and English merchants and artisans lived in Lower Town.

Most buildings in Upper Town date to the early 19th century, although some from the 17th and 18th centuries remain. The John Darlington Building dates to the late 18th century.

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Military use did hamper growth in the Upper Town for many years, and a movement arose in the late 19th century to demolish the fortifications as obsolete and as an obstacle to urban development. It was Lord Dufferin who successfully persuaded officials to preserve and rebuild them.

Parks in the Upper Town include De l'Esplanade, Artillerie, Des Gouverneurs and Montmorency parks as well as the grounds of l’Hotel-de-Ville.

Independent exploration

Our tour, which was interesting, educational, and informative, ended when our guide announced that she would be taking everyone back to the ship.

Knowing the ship was at the foot of Old Town, Anne and I decided to explore independently before heading back to Polaris.

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With the help of GPS and remembering landmarks we discovered on our way up the hill, we continued photographing the beautiful city and stopped at several shops along the way.

At one point, we took a mini tour with Quebec Velo-Taxi. A friendly and knowledgeable man helped us into his carriage and peddled us along pedestrian streets as he offered additional information about the Lower City.

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He dropped us in a charming area where there was more opportunity to take photos and shop -- our two favorite things after learning about a destination.

We returned to the welcoming ship as the clock ticked toward our back-on-deck time.

Another fantastic day with Viking!

If you go:

Several excursions are available to Viking passengers; some included and some offered at an additional charge.

Click here for more information about Viking Expedition and other Viking cruises.


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