Parliament Hill & Plains of Abraham
Dominated by the majestic outline of the Parliament Building and graced by a splendid fountain in its forecourt, Parliament Hill exudes style. Here are the top things to see and do in Old Québec's elegant area.
Parliament Hill is located in the Upper Town, just outside the fortifications. It’s home to a number of government buildings, the famous Plains of Abraham, and the festive section of Grande Allée.
The Parliament Building
Hôtel du Parlement, Guy Lessard
Hôtel du Parlement, OTQ
©Collection Assemblée nationale. Claude Mathieu.
The Parliament Building was erected between 1877 and 1886. It is an imposing structure whose four wings form a large square. Its architecture, inspired by the Louvre Palace in Paris, makes it one of the only French-style institutional buildings in Québec City. It is Québec’s oldest historic site and the seat of Québec’s government. The building’s main facade boasts 26 bronze statues erected to the memory of key historical figures. It's a fascinating place full of secrets and surprises.
You can take a free guided tour of the Parliament, where the national assembly’s 125 members determine the fate of the province. The tour lasts 75 minutes and delves into the history and workings of Québec’s parliamentary institutions as well as the history of the province itself. Cap off the experience with a meal at Le Parlementaire, a swank restaurant that serves up delicious local products. It’s one of the hill’s best‑kept secrets!
Fontaine de Tourny, Guy Lessard
Fontaine de Tourny stands directly in front of the Parliament Building, where it draws the gaze of passersby with its 43 water jets and sculpted figures.
Originally installed in Bordeaux, France, in 1857, and then removed in 1960, the fountain was discovered by chance during a visit to a flea market in Paris by a businessman from Québec City. At the time he was looking for a unique gift to make to the City of Québec for its 400th anniversary. He had the fountain shipped to Québec City, where it was restored before being presented to the city.
Plains of Abraham
Plains of Abraham / Guy Lessard
Ice Rink on the Plains of Abraham, Ville de Québec
The Battlefields Park, which includes the Plains of Abraham, was created in 1908 to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of Québec. A jewel in the park’s crown, the Joan of Arc Garden is a delight for the senses, with over 150 plant and flower varieties on dazzling display.
The Plains of Abraham were the site of the Battle of Québec in 1759, which saw Montcalm’s French forces and Wolfe’s British troops face off in a fight for control of the town and the surrounding territory. The two armies clashed again several months later in the Battle of Sainte-Foy. Ultimately, the decisive British victory had a significant influence on Québec’s architecture, defensive works, and urban planning.
The park’s welcome centre houses the Plains of Abraham Museum, where visitors can relive the Battle of the Plains of Abraham through a highly realistic immersive projection. There are also a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions that tell the story of the Plains of Abraham with great accuracy and creativity.
The Plains of Abraham are to Québec City as Central Park is to New York—an oasis of greenery in the heart of the city. The scene of many historic milestones over the centuries, the Plains today are the mainstage venue for headline cultural events, such as Festival d'été de Québec, one of Canada's premier musical events.
This 98-hectare park is a vast playground for outdoor enthusiasts, attracting cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and skaters in winter. During summer, you'll find people strolling for a breath of fresh air, and families in search of an idyllic picnic spot.
Plains of Abraham, Jeff Frenette Photography
Built under the British regime between 1808 and 1812, the 4 Martello towers were intended to defend the city against a possible American invasion. Today, there are 3 Martello towers left, the only ones in the province. Tower 1 overlooks the cliff on the Plains of Abraham, in front of the St. Lawrence River. Tower 2 is located at the highest point in the city, at the corner of Taché and Laurier avenues and the 3rd is located on Lavigueur Street. Exhibitions and activities are regularly presented in towers 1 and 2.
Observatoire de la Capitale
Jeff Frenette Photography
Located on the top floor of the tallest building in the city, Observatoire de la Capitale is the best place to see Québec City from above. Standing at the top of the observatory at 221 metres above sea level, you’ll have a stunning panoramic view of Old Québec, the St. Lawrence River, the Plains of Abraham, Île d’Orléans, and even the city fortifications. While you’re there, take a stroll through the observatory’s permanent exhibition to learn more about the history of Québec City and the major events that forged the identity of a people.
Grande Allée, Ville de Québec
Day or night, Grande Allée's sidewalk restaurants and cafés and beautiful architecture attract big crowds. When summer rolls around, the restaurants and bars open up their outdoor patios, and the city’s legendary street becomes the place to be for Happy Hour or a night on the town. Every year, New Year’s Eve is the occasion for thousands of revellers to gather on Grande Allée to ring in the New Year in a celebratory and festive atmosphere.
Manège Militaire des Voltigeurs de Québec
The Québec City Armoury is the only armoury in the country recognized as a national historic site. Home to the oldest French‑speaking battalion in North America, it was built in 1885 and completely restored following a major fire. Luckily the building’s historical cachet remains intact, and the renovated spaces now serve as venues for exclusive private events. Just across the way, Place Georges‑V is the site of various annual events, including the Québec City Summer Festival and the city’s New Year’s celebrations.
Promenade des Premiers-Ministres
Promenade des Premiers-Ministres, CCNQ
Located on Boulevard René-Lévesque just beside the Parliament Building, Promenade des Premiers-Ministres is an alley that pays homage to the premiers who have governed Québec since 1867. There are interpretive panels along the way explaining how each helped build a nation.