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Once you get north of Mexico, Québec City is the only walled city in the world. This distinct characteristic is one of the unique facets that make Québec City a magnificent place to visit. The atmosphere, official language, and culture of the town is French, and this becomes evident as you find out that 95 percent of the population of the city speaks in the native French tongue. The streets are safe and the locals are friendly, and the majority of the 750,000 citizens speak enough English to communicate with you effectively.

You should spend most of your time in the Vieux-Québec district, which is the old walled portion of the city. Some of the best historical sights, restaurants and stores are here, and the surrounding architecture is glorious. The first colony in this region was built at Cape Diamond near the St. Lawrence River. This scenic area was home to traders, seamen, and merchants until the mid-1700s, when a fire destroyed nearly everything. Thereafter, this portion of the city was rebuilt into a warehouse and wharf area, as the locals moved into much safer homes beyond the high cliffs of Québec City. Over two hundred years later, the original Vieux-Québec area is being rebuilt, with new cafes, entertainment, and shops to entice visitors. The ancient walled city is spectacular, and its location, overlooking the St. Lawrence River, is absolutely perfect. The air is fresh and the rustic granite houses beam with nostalgia, creating a lovely ambiance in picturesque Québec City.

Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Québec. From there, you can take a taxi or bus to your destination in the city.

Québec City's local bus service crisscrosses the city and can provide you with a dependable transportation solution. You can purchase a one-day pass, costing $3.70, from any bus driver. Discounts are available for seniors and students, as well. If you'd like to take a taxi while in Québec City, contact Taxi Coop Québec (418/525-5191). Lastly, you can rent a car while in the city by contacting Hertz Canada (800/654-3131) or Budget (800/268-8900).

Local Interests
The Musée des Beaux-Arts du Québec can be found on Avenue Wolfe-Montcalm (418/643-2150) and features the largest collection of Québec art in North America. The inside of this establishment is filled with priceless works of visual splendor, many of them hundreds of years old. The museum also hosts annual exhibits featuring the works of up and coming local artists.

Explore Sound & Light Show is located at 63 Rue Dalhousie (418/692-2175) and give you a wonderful glimpse into the Age of Exploration and the history of North America. Columbus, Champlain, Vespucci and others are featured in the presentation, and this thirty-minute show is marvelous. The architecture of the theater is magnificent, and in keeping with the venue, it was built to resemble an early ship that these explorers used to sail the earths waters.

The Musée de la Civilisation at 85 Rue Dalhousie (418/643-2158), examines the history and culture of Québec in an artistic and unique way. Encounter With the First Nations is a tribute to the indigenous peoples who first inhabited Québec centuries ago. The displays are artistically incredible and visually stimulating, making a visit to this museum a must.

Laurie Raphaël can be found at 117 Rue Dalhousie (418/692-4555, www.laurierafaël.com) and serves exquisite French cuisine that is as exotic as it is delicious. The entrees are marvelous, with hints of Asian ingredients and some California flares. The dishes are designed to be healthy as well as delectable. The main courses, such as salmon and caribou, come with soup and salad and are sure to fill you up and bring a smile to your face. Le Marie-Clarisse, at 12 Rue du Petit-Champlain (418/692-0857), serves outstanding seafood, and features a dining room whose walls have stood for two hundred years. The shrimp platters and fish stew are both tremendous, and the atmosphere is captivating. Le Marie-Clarisse is an unforgettable dining experience. Known for having the best seafood in Québec City, the owner handpicks all of his fresh seafood every day from the local markets. L'Echaudé is located at 73 Rue Sault-au-Matelot (418/692-1299) and is a splendid French Bistro that is perhaps the most upscale restaurant in Québec City. The pasta dishes are heavenly, and the fresh fish and steaks are top notch, as well. For lunch, enjoy one of their signature omelets; the wine cellar features over 120 different wines.

The Saint Alexandre Pub (418/694-0015), at 1087 Rue St-Jean, is the most appealing bar in the city. Offering twenty beers on tap and over two hundred in total, the pub brings jazz musicians come and play to the locals who sit in the cozy main room and enjoy the glowing fire.

The Galerie d'Art Trois Colombes, at 46 Rue St-Louis (418/694-1114), sells great woodcarvings, crafts, boots, and handmade hats. The moccasins and sweaters are splendid, making Trois Colombes one of the most popular stores in Québec City. Aux Multiples at 69 Rue Ste-Anne (418/692-1230), sells enchanting Inuit art made out of tusk, bone, and stone. Some of these items are quite expensive but their distinct beauty and high quality make them extremely worthwhile purchases.

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