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Quebec City: The New France Festival

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Quebec City

Courtesy of Xavier Dachez

For the past 15 years, Quebec City has been honoring its roots each summer with the New France Festival. Previously started in 1997 as part of the city’s 400th anniversary celebration, it was supposed to end in 2008. But, since the festival was so successful, they decided to continue the celebration which consists of 5 days of festivities in and around the fortified part of Old Quebec.

Here’s a trip that Mr. Peabody, Sherman and the Wayback machine would have liked as they wander around a dozen sites in the historic district of Old Quebec to see parades, dances, shows, and more than 1,000 artistic events.

Within these streets, you can find farmers, soldiers, merchants, and farm animals– all co-mingling. Part of the fun of the festival is that residents or visitors can participate in the action by dressing up in costume. Here’s where one can assume another identity as a commoner, member of the bourgeoisie or part of the nobility class.

Back then, your class pretty much determined what you wore. A commoner, for instance, would have clothing made from rough or fine woolen fabrics or cotton. Men wore waistcoats and long knitted stockings held up by garters. Sounds strange to us now but back then, it was the fashion.

Quebec City History

Quebec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and it’s the second most populous city after Montreal. More than 600,000 residents call this home, not to mention the millions of happy tourists who visit each year.

The city was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, who was, among other things, a cartographer and mariner. He is the father of New France for whom the New France Festival is named and Quebec is considered the cradle of French civilization in North America.

The city itself is situated on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, and the word Quebec is derived from a word meaning where the river narrows. One can see this narrowing from several vantage points overlooking the river.

Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America, following Santa Fe, New Mexico. Today, the city has also been afforded UNESCO World Heritage status owing primarily to the Historic District of Old Quebec. This district is divided into the Upper Town, which is typified by fortifications, a citadel and ancient ramparts, and the Lower Town, which expanded around the harbor and the Palace Royale.

In its early history, Quebec was well protected and fortified by a wall that encompassed its borders. Today, the ramparts of Quebec City are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America. The closest others are in Mexico.

Artillery Park with its impressive bulwarks was an integral part of the city’s defenses and served as the main barracks for the soldiers. During the festival, you can find all manner of characters hanging out there including a musketeers camp.

During the late 17th century, the New France colony was placed under the control of King Louis XIV. Under the king’s administration, the colony flourished, bringing in farmers, tradesmen, merchants, and laborers.

Modern Quebec Attractions

Of course, there’s more to Quebec City than the France Festival. This place has everything a tourist needs for a great vacation. From great food to arts and culture, the city has something for everyone.

There are museums to explore, including one devoted to bees; a 10,000 marine animal aquarium; golf courses; parks; and more retail shops than you will probably have time to visit.

You can also take in a performance by Cirque du SoleilĀ® (based in Quebec), which has been described as a combination of circus arts and street enterainment. More than 100 million people have seen one of their shows and while you are visiting, you won’t want to miss your opportunity. The performances are truly spectacular!

Even if you think you’ve watched a movie on the big screen, you haven’t seen anything like The Image Mill. Imagine a group of grain silos almost 1000 feet wide by 100 feet tall, the equivalent of 25 IMAX screens, making it the world’s largest projection screen.

Now picture a 3D projection on these silos featuring four centuries of the history of Quebec with depth and music and you will have some idea of how innovative this is and why it attracts thousands each performance from late June through September. The stunning 50-minute presentation can be seen all the way to the Levi’s store on the south shore of the St. Lawrence.

Quebec City is a lot easier to get to than it used to be in the good old New France days. Daily flights arrive from major gateways, and, according to tourism bureau statistics, an amazing 99% of visitors say they have been happy with the warm greetings they receive while visiting here. So, whether you are visiting during the France Festival or at any other time of the year, there are many activities to enjoy with friendly people ready to welcome you to this city by the St. Lawrence River.


Quebec City and Area

New France Festival

(FTC Disclaimer: No goods or services were obtained as a result of this article. All information was obtained from a previous trip, phone interviews and media materials).

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