Québec City has a population of 500,000 and was founded in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain on commission from King Henry IV. It is located at the very heart of a vast territory that had been occupied for thousands of years by Aboriginal nations that today, in Canada, go by the name of First Nations. This year, the city is therefore celebrating the 400th anniversary of its founding. It was in Québec City that the British Navy vanquished the French army in 1759, making New France and the entire North American continent north of Mexico a British colony.
Québec City is geographically located in the northeastern part of the North American continent, along the St. Lawrence River, which it towers above in the manner of a Gibraltar. The city is divided into Upper and Lower Town, separated by a thirty-metre cliff and linked by numerous stairways, several elevators and a funicular. Perched atop its promontory stands the famous Château Frontenac, an internationally renowned 900-room hotel. American architect Bruce Price began designing the first quarters of the hotel in 1896, which he modelled on the French châteaux of the Loire Valley. A long wooden boardwalk called Dufferin Terrace extends along the cliffs at the foot of the Château Frontenac providing sweeping and unforgettable views of the river, mountains and neighbouring towns.
The city’s oldest quarter, commonly referred to as Old Québec, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because, on the one hand, it was the cradle of French civilization in North America - the evidence of which is still very much alive today - and on the other hand, it constitutes a remarkable example of a colonial city with its narrow, winding streets and Vauban-style fortifications dominated by a citadel that was completed in 1830. French is the commonly spoken language but the majority of its residents also speak English.
Old Québec is a lively and bustling multi-functional urban ensemble with a population of approximately 5,500 residents. The neighbourhood receives more than five million visitors every year and features numerous hotels and privately owned inns as well as a wide variety of fine restaurants offering multi-ethnic cuisine. There are also a great number of art and civilization museums and several interpretation centres that address the city’s history from various perspectives and thus appeal to youngsters and adults alike. Québec City is the very symbol of a city of heart, a city of memory, a glorious city and a northern city that beckons to be discovered by strolling its streets at random, either by oneself or in the company of experienced and multilingual guides.