Perhaps nothing makes the exquisite city of Quebec City come alive with all its glory like Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France, where visitors of all ages can experience a period of rich history and immersion into culture like none other.
Families who enjoy flamboyant parties, epicurean adventures, historical reenactments, astounding music, festivals, and even exciting nightlife will find activities of all types to captivate during this multisensory experience of fun, education, and heritage.
Dress the Part
Thousands of period costumed characters and party goers parade the streets and activities throughout this nearly week long party but the opening night parade is a must to see hundreds of costumed characters take to the street which becomes a stage for song, dance, and costumes.
Why not clothe your clan in the magic of the festival by dressing the part? Visitors can visit www.nouvellefrance.qc.ca to glean tips on dressing up in three cornered hats, scarves, bustles, and corsets. Costumes are rented and sold at the festival or you can make your own. What could be more fun than blending in with thousands of noblemen, crooks, explorers, maidens, thieves, swindlers, pirates, perfumers, soldiers, musketeers, and merchants?
Food, Food and More Food
Eating, drinking, and merry making are activities to be enjoyed at wonderful restaurants throughout Quebec City known for its culinary delights but during Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France, Quebec City also offers the Quebec Food Market at the Place de Paris where more than 1,400 regional delicacies are showcased for visitors to sample.
One of the most delightful dinners of our visit was at Les Voutes du Cavour, a charming small restaurant in a historic home from the 18th century in the center of Place Royale. The food was outstanding and the view of the festivities was wonderful.
Musical performances by world renown musicians are a nightly occurrence for all to enjoy at the Place de Paris. These family friendly venues offer another way to be entertained and captivated.
The Battery Royale Youth Zone is a fabulous entertainment offering for children where the Youth Zone stage hosts performances like storytellers, magicians, jugglers, singers, glass blowers, musket firing, and comedy catering to the younger crowds. Street venders and activity sites are also peppered throughout, encouraging children to partake in ongoing activities like petting farm animals, watching cobblers, creating their own coat of arms or fashioning an arrowhead.
The founding families and Historical and Genealogical Society share fascinating stories and adventures of their arrival to the new land if you head to Rue St-Pierre and Rue Notre-Dame. This is another cultural experience not to be missed.
Where to Stay in Quebec
The perfect place to stay in the midst of all the activities is at the gorgeous and historic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, which has hosted many notable figures for nearly a century. This lavish and spectacular city icon offers a comfortable spot from which to enjoy all festivities. A delicious and sumptuous breakfast is served daily in the Cafe de la Terrasse, with fresh fruits and pastries, pates, and meats. It provides a fabulous start to your days of activity. The Chateau Frontenac provides the perfect vantage point for the spectacular fireworks show at night over the city as well.
Excursions in the Quebec Area
Each evening of the festival offers dozens of activities. Two that were especially memorable for us were the Image Mill and a Cirque de Soleil show created exclusively for Quebec City. The Image Mill transforms Bunge grain silos into the world’s largest projection screen. Visitors can enjoy a multimedia projection show of vast proportions that depicts Quebec City’s historical, social and political movements, during a 40 minute visual and audio presentation covering four centuries and the four movements of Waterways, Road Building, Rail Expansion, and Air Travel.
Nearby Montmorency Falls Park and the Ile d’Orleans offer a respite and excursion just outside of the city for visiting families who enjoy a breath of the countryside and natural wonders just beyond the bustle of Quebec City. A gondola ride to the breathtaking falls will delight all ages and a hike along the expansion bridge above the falls is exhilarating. If fresh produce, wines, ciders and artisan chocolates and cheeses from generations old farms sound like fun, then plan to spend a day or afternoon enjoying the peaceful and relaxing way of life on the Ile d’Orleans just about a half hour outside of the city.
Another lovely excursion for families enjoying Quebec City is a visit to the fascinating Huron Wendat community, where food, culture and history of the native people of the region is enjoyed by all ages. We especially enjoyed a canoe ride through the Huron Wendat tribal lands where we saw wildlife and felt transported back to a time of exploration and unspoiled beauty.
Planning a Visit to Quebec City
Visitors to Quebec City will love the unparalleled hospitality, warmth and beauty of the Quebecois people, their culture, history and exquisite charm of the remarkable city and its surrounding countryside. Quebec City is a beautiful city unlike any other in North America. Its varied festivals and cultural activities provide a mecca for vacationing families the world over and Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France is Quebec City’s crowning glory. Be sure to plan a visit around the 2013 activities this year August 7-11. www.nouvellefrance.qc.ca www.quebecregion.com
Carmel L. Mooney is the editor of Roadtripsforcouples.com, an online travel magazine. Carmel’s been on local talk radio for 17 years and now co-hosts THE GOOD LIFE with Mike the Wine Guy on KMYC 1410AM. Her family travel column can be read in California Kids Magazine at: Valcomnews.com You can follow her on Twitter: @CarmelLeeMooney or Facebook. Carmel is also the Executive Director of Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions, a non-profit that trains and places Autism Service Dogs.