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Things to Do in Quebec - page 3

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Ville-Marie
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2 Tours and Activities

Few people knew of Ville-Marie yet everyone has been; it’s the technical name for Montreal’s downtown area, and one of the most vibrant places in the world. It encompasses Old-Montreal, downtown Montreal, the Latin Quarter, the Gay Village, most of Mount Royal Park and the islands on the St. Lawrence River – indeed, it covers quite a lot of ground! It is therefore one of the most visited areas in North America, and one of the most densely populated too.

Attraction-wise, Ville-Marie isn’t a bore. Three of the four Montreal universities are located within its boundaries, as well as the notable district of Old-Montreal (and its historic museums, chapels and quaint squares), the lively Gay Village and its drag-queen bars, the business and high street shopping oriented downtown core area and, of course, the luxuriant Mount Royal and its unobstructed view of the neighborhood.

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Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts (Musée National des Beaux-Arts)
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Often regarded as the premier reference in terms of Quebec art, the National Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec City has amassed over a whopping 38,000 works of art. It acts as a testament to art history in the province, spanning every major movement from the seventeenth century to today including everything from modernism to surrealism. The museum consists of four pavillions: the Charles Baillairgé pavilion, which concentrates on modern art, the Gérard Morisset pavilion, where the historical works are housed, and the central pavilion, home to the Family Gallery, and, last but not least, the brand new Pierre Lassonde pavilion, which is entirely dedicated to contemporary art. The latter has just been extensively renovated and is now a marvel of modern-day architecture.

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Aquarium du Quebec
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The Aquarium du Quebec is a family-friendly destination and home to more than 10,000 marine animals. Kids learn about the magic of the marine world through visits to tanks, marine mammals like polar bears and walrus, and educational exhibits. Animal feedings and trainings, seasonal events, and a riverside picnic area are also popular.
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Quebec Museum of Civilization (Musée de la Civilisation)
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Rising as a beacon of modernity in historic Old Quebec, the Musée de la Civilisation looks at humanity across the world as well as the history of Quebec through an extensive lens. Surrounded by glass panes and greenery, the museum is impressive from the exterior alone. Pre-existing buildings were incorporated into the completed design, which finished construction in 1998. Inside, both its permanent and rotating exhibits are highly interactive and educational, ranging from Quebec’s Aboriginal roots to contemporary culture.

The museum has become known for its fresh and original designs and perspectives, and is thought to be a leading cultural hub of Quebec. It has hundreds of unique and original historic art and artifacts, many of which collectively tell the story of Quebec. There are often family workshops as well as guided tours (in both English and French) available for those looking to take a deeper dive into the museum.

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Place des Arts
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Place des Arts was inaugurated during what historians now refer to as Montreal’s 1960’s Golden Age; several major construction projects came to be in that period, including Expo 67, the metro system, skyscrapers and, of course, the much debated Place des Arts. The controversial mayor at the time, Jean Drapeau, was a fervent opera lover and longed for a hall that would welcome the world’s most fabulous performances as well as revitalize the business-oriented downtown area; despite not receiving the public’s nor the government’s support, visionary Drapeau still realized his dream, one that Montrealers are thankful for today.

Now consisting of six performance halls comprising of a total of 8,000 seats, Place des Arts is a classified building of exceptional heritage value, and a significant cultural hub for Montrealers.

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Laurentian Mountains (Les Laurentides)
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While the actual mountain range stretches roughly from Ottawa to Charlevoix, the “Laurentides” refers to a mountainous region just north of Montreal. Other than being a nature’s lover idea of paradise, thanks to lush forests, the Laurentians are actually one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world - it contains rocks deposited before the Cambrian Period 540 million years ago.

The region is very popular with Montrealers wanting to escape the city’s hustle for a weekend, as well as visitors with a thing for hiking, rock climbing, rafting, cycling, canoeing, zip-lining, golfing and a host of winter activities like snowshoeing, alpine and cross-country skiing, dog sledding, ice skating and many, many more. In fact, the Laurentians are home to some of the best ski resorts in the province, top-notch golf courses, world-class Nordic spas and a 230-kilometer-long (140 miles) linear park. The first ski lift in North America was actually built in Shawbridge back in the 1930s!

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More Things to Do in Quebec

Montreal Biodome (Biodome de Montreal)

Montreal Biodome (Biodome de Montreal)

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The Americas are home to four ecosystems, and at the Biodome de Montreal you’ll be able to walk through them all (well, replicas of them at least). Visitors will be guided by naturalists through the biodome, traveling through the tropical rainforest, Laurentian maple forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence and Sub-Antarctic Islands, and observing over 4,800 animals representing 230 species and about 750 plants. Interestingly, these exhibits are housed in what was once the cycling stadium used in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Essentially, the experience is similar to visiting a zoo but delivers more of an immersive experience that makes you feel like you’re really in the wild.

While there is much to learn about as well as flora and fauna to see in these four ecosystems, there are a few highlights of a visit to the Biodome de Montreal.

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Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC)

Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC)

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Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art is a showcase of some 7,000 permanent works displayed in eight galleries. Focusing on work created since 1939, the museum includes work from Quebec legends Jean-Paul Riopelle, Paul-Émile Borduas and Génévieve Cadieux. There are also temporary exhibitions of works by current Canadian and international artists.

Forms range from traditional to New Media, from painting, sculpture and prints to installation art and video. The exhibition spaces are large and airy, ideal for regular modern and avant-garde performances held at the museum. The sculpture garden, with Henry Moore's work Upright Motive No. 5, is worth a look. On the first Friday of each month, the museum stays open until 9pm to host "Friday Nocturnes,” with cocktails and live music.

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Ecomuseum Zoo

Ecomuseum Zoo

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Artillery Park Heritage Site

Artillery Park Heritage Site

With its strategic view of the plateau west of the city and the St Charles River, Artillery Park National Historic Site is a complex of defensive buildings constructed by the French in the 17th and 18th centuries. The site also functioned as an ammunition factory, which employed thousands of Canadians as recently as the early 1960s.

Inside the structure, you can visit the officers' quarters, the mess hall, an iron foundry, and the Dauphine Redoubt, where guides greet you in period character (such as the garrison's cook) and give you the scoop on life in the barracks. There's also a huge model of Québec City in the old Arsenal Foundry. In the interpretive center, you can take a fascinating multimedia journey through the history of the site and Quebec City itself. In summer, gunfire demonstrations are held three times a day.

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Iberville Passenger Terminal (Port of Montreal)

Iberville Passenger Terminal (Port of Montreal)

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The largest inland port in the world, Montreal is also the busiest along the St. Lawrence River, which links the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. Founded in 1642 by French Catholic settlers, today Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. With its cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes, the city has an undeniable European charm, so it is no wonder it welcomes over 7 million visitors each year.Cruise ships dock at the Iberville Passenger Terminal, which is walking distance from many of Montreal’s main attractions, including the Old Town. Taxis are also readily available at the port.

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St. Lawrence River

St. Lawrence River

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As one of the longest and most historic rivers in the world – penetrating 3,058 kilometers into North America- the St Lawrence River is omnipresent everywhere visitors look. Stretching from the mighty Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes of Ontario, the land on either side of it has been occupied by Native tribes for almost 10,000 years. And although many studies suggest Vikings were the first European explorers to navigate its waters, the river was only officially discovered by Jacques Cartier in the 16th century – which turned out to be one of the most important turning points in North American history. Indeed, the Saint Lawrence River served as the main route for European exploration of the North American interior in order to establish a lucrative colonial empire resulting from the trade with the Montagnais, the Etchemin and the Algonquin people.

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Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park (Parc Marin du Saguenay-Saint-Laurent)

Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park (Parc Marin du Saguenay-Saint-Laurent)

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As the only park in the province entirely dedicated to preserve and enhance an exclusively marine environment, the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park understandably boasts exceptional whale watching opportunities. The limpid waters of the biggest estuary in the world, the St Lawrence River, joins those of the longest fjord in Eastern Canada, the Saguenay Fjord; the marine park that is created in the process is abundant in natural treasures and biological diversity, including some of the world’s most impressive cetaceans like the furtive blue whales, belugas, the harbor porpoise, the minke whale, the fin whale and the humpback whale as well as three types of seals and 150 species of birds.

Stretching over 1,245 square kilometers, the park requires an entire day to visit, if not more! It offers a myriad of activities like scuba diving.
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