Last updated: October 14, 2023
The three best museums in Québec City, Canada are:
- Musee national des beaux-arts du Quebec
- Monastery Des Augustine
- Musee de la Civilisation
These are my travel notes which include my favorite photos, notes on two of the museums I visited, two good places, and candid / random notes and observations about the city.
Best Museums in Quebec City
Musee national des beaux-arts du Quebec
Spread over three buildings, it includes a modern, contemporary, and old-style (1800s?) collection.
One of the buildings is a former jail. It houses a few floors, each with a different exhibit(s). When I was there, they featured individual artists from Quebec. I got tea and a salad in the basement cafe here.
My favorite area was the third floor of the old, non-jail building. It is in the traditional museum style and features Quebec history and art.
Also don’t miss the impressive contemporary collection in a beautiful new building, plus the golden elevators and staircase (from floor 1 to 2) that is picture-perfect.
Video: Solid Gold Elevator Inside Museum
I filmed this during the party of the QCFF!
Monastery Des Augustine
A church, a nunnery, a hotel, a yoga spa, and a museum. When I come back, I want to stay at this hotel for at least a night! Dating from the 1600s, the convent originally was a hospital and a closed community for the nuns.
There’s an impressive, nicely designed museum in the basement that tells the story of the nuns and their old-world ways of living. About a dozen rooms are available as a hotel. It is also a popular spot for people to do health retreats (I saw some yoga classes).
Keynote Speaker at Film Festival
I spoke at the Monastery on 20 September 2017 as part of the Quebec City Film Festival’s Storytelling and Storytellers panel (QCFF-iD). There were over 100 people in the audience from Quebec province.
There were more keynote speakers, including:
- Veronique Boisjoly, MuseoMix Quebec (great tour guide!)
- Karina Marceau, Super-Serious Journalist
- Stephane Veilleaux, Director of Larouche Marketing Communication
- Philippe Lamarre, PDG Urbania
- Sandra Rodriguez, MIT and my favorite
Other Good Places To See in Quebec City
In the heart of a famous collection of small streets. Very picturesque, very touristy. I would bring a date or family here to walk around and pass time.
Cartier Street and St John’s: Shopping + Sightseeing Walk
Begin at the Musee national des beaux-arts. Explore, and then exit the new building. Turn right, then left on Cartier Street. Explore this area to find popular / cool / local shopping spots. Walk to the dead-end, and turn right. Find Saint John’s Street (bear right, I think?) and walk this into the walled city and into the Old Town.
I heard that St. Joseph street in the downtown area is also cool.
At the airport: VIP Salon at YQB Airport, departures side: If you have the Priority Pass, come here. The reviews accurately say, “One of the nicest Priority Pass lounges in North America.” Had a full salad bar, soup, and plenty of beverage options. Huge, modern, nice.
- There is “uptown” and “downtown,” although that is not exactly a translation. The city is elevated, on hills and a cliff. So the “downtown” is physically DOWN. More like “above-town” and “lower-town.”
- The walled city area was described to me as Disneyland: primarily a spot for tourists, and largely reconstructed or superficial. Supposedly only 600 real Quebec locals live there. The rest of the apartments and homes are owned by foreign investors and Airbnb hosts.
- The large castle is very famous and a large hotel. I went in the lobby and was not impressed with the interior. The exterior is beautiful.
- Ex Muro: A neat Quebec City-funded initiative that gives artists money and space to create in the city. I heard of a pool noodle-filled road that was like a car wash for humans. I saw a 3D-looking pink entranceway to a cave.
- The Price Building is the other tall skyscraper-type. Built in 1929, I think, and looks very Art Deco. A very senior government official lives on the top three floors.
- Almost no bicyclists due to the hills. A local told me, “There is a very anti-bicycle movement here. The city is primarily focused on cars and it is a suburban city at the heart.”
- In the lower-town / down-town, supposedly there are many “nerd bars” like video game spaces and eSports spots. This is due to the strong presence of some video game companies like Ubisoft.
Quebec Separatist Notes
- The separatist movement is still alive but not strong. There were votes in 1981 and 1995 for the province of Quebec to separate from Canada and become its own country. In 1995, the vote was extremely close. The Separatists lost by something like 49% to 51%.
- Maybe the recent Brexit vote will give confidence to the Separatists that the economy would not collapse if they exit from Canada.
French Culture Notes
- Due to language, Quebec is much closer to Belgium and France than to America regarding popular culture and influence.
- It is very possible for people in Quebec City area to never speak English. French is the dominant and preferred language. When I visited Montreal, I felt the city as very bi-lingual. But in Quebec City, many signs were only in French.
- The government makes subsidies and tax credits available to all types of French-language content. Including a celebrity gossip magazine and French-Canadian porn. “Because if it is not available in French-Canadian, then the people will just use the English. So this is a way to protect our culture.”
- They have their own celebrity culture, with many actors, directors, shows, and movies that I have never heard of.
Comparisons to Montreal
A local described it to me in a very colorful, entertaining way: “Do you remember in high school as a freshman the overweight, shy girl? And you forget about her for a few years, then at senior prom, she’s the most beautiful? But when you take her home, she remembers her old self – and she is shy and lacks confidence? That is Quebec City. Then Montreal is the famous cheerleader who is hot and sexy, but she doesn’t have to work very hard. So when you take her home, she is a bit lazy, and not as good.”
I enjoyed my visit to Quebec City. I would like to return, maybe in the winter or on a cruise.
Dates of visit: 2017 September 19, 20, 21
Purpose: Speaking at the Quebec City Film Festival in the Storytelling panel
Contact: Amandine! Thank you for hosting me.