Quebec, Canada, the land of maple syrup, poutine, and a whole lot of snow. Not only is Quebec the home of all of these wonderful things, it’s also my home. I’ve lived here my entire life and never really thought much about this province until I started getting into travel. For the longest time, I’ve always thought that to travel meant to leave your province or your country to explore different parts of the world. While this is true and something that I want to do, I’ve also realized that where I live is actually quite beautiful and diverse and a place that has much more things to see and places to explore than I ever imagined. While we’re already three weeks into the new year, I decided to throw together a list of places in Quebec that are worth putting on your bucket list as well as places that I’ve put high up on my list to visit.
As mentioned in the name of the town, Thetford Mines is a town known mainly for it’s abandoned mines. These mines were once the source of the largest asbestos production before it was completely shut down in 2012 but the mines still remain and have left behind a real marvel to see. From different viewpoints, lookout points, or from the mine tours offered, you can catch a glimpse down where these mines once produced tons and tons of chrysotile, the most commonly used form of asbestos. These mines are now filled with turquoise water, and are quite the sight to see, even if you’re just driving into the town and are also high on my bucket list to visit this year.
Quebec City is the one town in Quebec that I know will never be beat out as being my favorite and is also one of the only places that I’m happy to visit over and over again. From massive waterfalls higher than Niagara and stunning views of the St-Lawrence river to beautiful architecture reminiscent of the province’s beginning, Quebec City truly has it all. As having been to the city both in the winter and the summer, I highly suggest to go in the winter not only to see the Montmorency Falls under a thick layer of ice, but also to witness the famous ice hotel, a hotel made entirely of ice and snow that is built each year with a unique and different theme every time.
Trois Rivieres is a town in the Mauricie region of the province and is found between Montreal and Quebec City with about 135,000 people calling it their home. This town is also home to a bunch of different things to do and see and is another place I’ve been wanting to explore a bit more of. Aside from some gorgeous old architecture to see and the bustling downtown area with an abundance of shops, restaurants, and cafes to discover, another interesting place to visit and one that I highly recommend, is the Old Prison of Trois Rivieres. This prison, dating back to 1822, stands almost smack in the middle of downtown Trois Rivieres, and showcases the life behind bars that the inmates lived day in and day out.
Yet another cute little town that I want to go explore when the weather gets warmer, is North Hatley. This quaint village sits in the Eastern Townships and after being founded in 1897, it quickly found its way onto the ‘most beautiful villages of Quebec’ list. While this town of less than 1,000 inhabitants isn’t bustling with a bunch of activities like some other places on this list, it’s the perfect place to go when you’re looking to just disconnect and spend a day out in nature. With not only it’s architectural beauty and quaint little shops dotted along the water, North Hatley is also a great place to go for it’s breathtaking landscape of the surrounding mountains and lake Magog.
I feel like anyone coming to Quebec, will either pass through Montreal to get to where they’re headed or Montreal is on the list of places to visit and for good reason. If you didn’t know already, Montreal is the biggest city in the province and is a hub for great activities, restaurants and cafes, shopping malls, concerts, events, and so much more. Montreal is actually on my bucket list as well but not because I haven’t been there before, but mainly because I feel like there’s still so much left to see in the city that I haven’t gotten the chance to visit yet regardless of how many times I’ve been down there. A few places I’ve been dying to go see and should also be on your bucket list include visiting the Mount Royal lookout point which gives you amazing views of the city below as well as spending some time in the Old Port part of the city.
Having officially been declared the town of Montebello in 1878, this town is a popular tourist destination for not only the outpouring of activities available in the region but also for the natural beauty of this place. Montebello is on my list of places to visit mainly for the Parc Omega, a 12 kilometer long safari trail that brings you through forests, hills, lakes, and meadows to witness native animals, such as elk, wolves, and bears, in their natural habitats. This safari park was opened in 1991 and is one of the main sources of tourism for the town of Montebello, along with the Amensia Rockfest, Quebec’s largest rock festival as well as the Chateau Montebello, an historic hotel resembling a log cabin and one of the largest wooden structures in the world. This hotel boasts over 200 luxury yet cozy rooms with spa treatments and stunning views of the surrounding mountains and waterfront included.
Located in the far North of Quebec in the Saguenay Lac St Jean region, this now abandoned village was founded in 1901 and was once a thriving pulp production town. Though things started off a bit rocky, in the late 1920’s the village was thriving with it’s new and more convenient machinery that was the envy of surrounding towns. This period of happiness and fruitfulness didn’t last long though and in 1924, between employees being laid off in large numbers and setbacks from the administration, things started to go downhill and fast. By 1927, the pulp mill has completely halted the production of pulp and the company shuts down. Since the town of Val Jalbert relied solely on the pulp mill to provide jobs and an economy, within a few years of the pulp mill shutting down, the residents moved onward and the town was left abandoned. After being revived and brought back to life in the 1960’s, the Historical Village of Val Jalbert was created. This ghost town is now home to a $19 million project that was created to showcase the life and times of this once populated village. Situated alongside the massive Ouiatchouan Falls, the site now welcomes hundreds of tourists yearly to get a glimpse into a big part of Quebec’s past and with over 70 of the village’s original buildings still standing, Val Jalbert is also considered to be one of the best preserved ghost towns in the country.
One of my favorite places in Quebec and one that I think should be visited by everyone at least once is Mont Tremblant. This town is known for being a ski lover’s heaven and has also been made popular by the unique pedestrian village found at the base of the mountain. This village truly has everything you would ever need from restaurants and bars to shops filled with local products and an abundance of activities to try out. Mont Tremblant is also the perfect place for photography lovers with a picture opportunity at every turn of your head, including the brightly colored buildings scattered throughout the pedestrian village that seem to perfectly contrast against the towering mountains in the background.
Saguenay Lac Saint Jean
Another region of this province that I’ve yet to explore but is high up on the bucket list, is the Saguenay Lac St Jean area. Found in the far North at about 7 hours outside of Montreal, the Lac St Jean region is adored by tourists and locals alike, mainly due to the stunning beauty of the fjords surrounding the area. The famous lake running through the region which lent a hand in giving the region it’s name, is also quite the sight to see. While Lac St Jean is a spectacular place filled with activities to do year round, the winter months are definitely the time of year in which the area truly comes alive. This snowy paradise experiences one of the longest winters with an average of 22 weeks filled with below zero temperatures and heaping amounts of snow, with about 20 feet of the fluffy, white stuff falling during one winter. All of this snow makes the area the perfect place to practice winter activities such as snowshoeing in the Monts Valin National park and attending the Festi’Glace, an annual winter festival which promotes a bunch of different things to do in the snow.
Venise en Quebec
The perfect place for a summer getaway where relaxation, beaches, and good food are the only things on the menu, Venise en Quebec is an adorable, little beach town in the Monteregie region. Situated at a short 45 minute drive away from Montreal, this cute village can be found on the shores of the Missisquoi Bay and is most well known for it’s beautiful beaches which span a distance of 2.5 kilometers. In the center of Venise, you can also find the public market which comes alive in the summer months and is dotted with brightly colored shacks selling everything from gelato and Asian food to souvenirs to commemorate your trip to Venise en Quebec.
Another place in this beautiful province that everyone should experience at least once, is Gaspe. Found at the very tip of the Gaspe peninsula, it is quite the drive out from Montreal clocking in at about 10 hours of driving but the region’s natural beauty makes up for it. Gaspe is home to stunning landscapes, national parks, lighthouses, one of the most beautiful bays in the world and of course the famous, Rocher Perce. This massive 433 meter long limestone formation sits in the Gulf of the St Lawrence and is believed to be about 400 million years old. What makes this rock so unique and the reasoning behind it’s name is due to the 20 meter arch found in the middle of the formation giving it the name ‘rocher perce’ which translates to ‘pierced rock.’ Aside from the famous rock, Gaspe is also a great place to spot wildlife in their natural habitats such as seals, whales, and bears, and is also home to lots of historical places that are important to Quebec’s history.
Besides being known for their ice cream that is found in almost every grocery store in the province, I feel like Coaticook isn’t as explored as it should be. This quaint town is another great place to escape to from the hustle and bustle of life, and with an abundance of activities to choose from and plenty of new things to see, Coaticook is one of my favorite places to spend the day and a place that I’m sure would be loved by everyone. Aside from grabbing an ice cream cone from the famous factory, Coaticook is also home to a bunch of stunning places to visit that will get you out and about in nature. The first being Mount Pinacle, a 2215 foot high mountain which gives way to breathtaking views of the lake down below as well as the surrounding mountains and valleys. Another great place to discover in Coaticook is the Parc de la Gorge. This park is not only home to thousand year old gorges and rock formations but is also the location of one of the longest suspended foot bridges in North America. Walking across this famous bridge will leave you breathless as you look below at the gorges and the surrounding landscapes of the valley.
Dotted with colorful little houses spread out along miles of beaches and renowned for its red, rock formations along the ocean, the Iles-de-la-Madeleine or the Magdalen islands, are a once in a lifetime experience. While maple trees, mountains, and pine trees are a common sight just about anywhere in Quebec, the Magdalen Islands have their own unique change of scenery. This small archipelago in the Gulf of the St Lawrence is made up mostly of sand dunes which account for 30 percent of the archipelago as well as lagoons and red cliffs. Aside from admiring the landscapes, the islands are also the ideal place to enjoy not only some of the freshest seafood in the country but also great for sea excursions and a bunch of different water sports such as sailing.