During repeated conflicts with the British in the 18th century, the residents of New France moved to the top of the cliffs of Cap Diamant. Over the years, they created fortifications with battlements and artillery emplacements that eventually encircled the city. Most of the defensive walls remain, although many have been restored repeatedly. These historic mementos are the centerpiece of today's tour. Start: Terrasse Dufferin.
1. Promenade des Gouverneurs
Walk south to the end of Terrasse Dufferin. At the end, go up the staircase to the Promenade des Gouverneurs. This path was renovated in 2007 and skirts the sheer cliff wall, climbing up and up past Québec's military Citadelle, a fort built by the British army between 1820 and 1850 that remains an active military garrison. The promenade/staircase ends at the grassy Parc des Champs-de-Bataille, about 15 minutes away.
From here, walk around the rim of the fortress.
2. La Citadelle
The Citadelle has a low profile, dug into the land, instead of rising above it. A ceremonial changing of the guard takes place daily at 10am in summer (June 24 to the first Mon of Sept) and can be viewed from here.
Walk down the hill toward the road. Grande-Allée passes through the city walls at porte (gate) St-Louis, our next destination.
3. Porte St-Louis & the Walls
After Grande-Allée passes through porte St-Louis, it becomes rue St-Louis, a main road through Old Town. The long greenway on the inside of the walls here is Parc l'Esplanade. Stroll along it and down a steep hill to another main gate in the wall, porte St-Jean (it is, sad to say, a 20th-century re-creation). Nearby is the Parc de l'Artillerie, where you can view an officer's mess and quarters and an old iron foundry.
Walk west on rue St-Jean through the gate. This is Place d'Youville, a plaza with hotels, a concert hall, and restaurants. Many of the city's festivals, in both summer and winter, set up outdoor stages here.
4. Take a Break -- Ristorante il Teatro
A good bet for lunch or dinner, with sidewalk seating in warm weather. Pasta and risotto are specialties. The restaurant is part of Le Capitole, a hotel-theater complex. 972 rue St-Jean. tel. 418/694-9996.
Walk back through the gate to browse along:
5. Rue St-Jean
One of the liveliest of Vieux-Québec's streets, rue St-Jean is lined with an ever-updated variety of shops, pubs, and restaurants.
At the end of rue St-Jean, bear right up Côte de la Fabrique. At the end is:
6. Basilique Notre-Dame
What with bombardments, fires, and repeated rebuilding, this home of the oldest Christian parish north of Mexico is nothing if not perseverant. Parts of it, including the bell tower, survive from the original 1647 building, but most of what remains is from a 1771 reconstruction. Step inside to see the blindingly bright gold leaf.
Leaving the church, walk left along rue du Buade and turn right onto the narrow pedestrian alley rue du Trésor. Artists set up here and sell etchings, drawings, and watercolors. Directly on the street at no. 8, go inside for:
7. Québec Expérience
This 3-D show re-creates in vivid detail some of the grim realities of being a settler. Guns and cannons explode at audiences, a simulated bridge crashes down, and walls of water simulate storms at sea. Kids love it.
Rue du Trésor ends at the central plaza of Upper Town, Place d'Armes. Château Frontenac is directly across the plaza.
8. Outdoor Cafe Dining
If it's warm, snag an outdoor table at any of the restaurants on rue Ste-Anne. One favorite is Le Pain Béni, the restaurant at the Auberge Place d'Armes. You can try Québécois classics with modern twists, or more simple pastas. 24 rue Ste-Anne. tel. 866/333-9485 or 418/694-9485.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.