Healthy Canada: Quebec City
This riverside city offers plenty to do and see off the beaten track
A stuntman, acrobat, choreographer, and acrobatics and trampoline trainer, Quebec City’s Dominic Lacasse, 39, is best-known as a circus artist whose gravity-defying act is ‘The Flag Man.’ This has earned him TV appearances and two Guinness World Records, one for holding the position longest’39 seconds’and the other for the most chin-ups’14’in the position. (Mon Dieu!) Lacasse loves his hometown for its access to nature, with just enough urban life in the mix. ‘We have everything,’ he says. The famous ‘Old Town’ (Vieux-Québec) is a must-see. But there’s much more beyond that. Here are Lacasse’s suggestions, covering all seasons.
‘ Visit Montmorency Falls. Minutes from downtown, these falls are 83 metres high’30 metres higher than Niagara Falls’and part of Montmorency Falls Park. To get the best photos, tour the staircases, cross the falls by suspension bridge’or, if you’re feeling adventurous, book a hike on the via ferrata, or assisted climbing route.
‘ Bike and ski. Mont-Sainte-Anne (about a 30-minute drive away) is a skiing mecca, but in summer and fall, it has plenty of mountain-biking trails to keep Lacasse busy. In winter, he snowboards on local ski hills Stoneham and Le Relais, both only 20 minutes from town.
‘ Get on the water. A fan of water sports, Lacasse tries to get out to Lac St-Joseph (a 25-minute drive) whenever he can. ‘You can waterski, Sea-Doo or stay on the beach. It’s a really nice place.’
‘ Great Color Adventure, Mont-Sainte-Anne, September 20’October 12 This family-friendly four-weekend festival offers sporting challenges, gourmet food and drink, mountaintop camping and a pumpkin hunt. There’s also mountain biking, hiking and golf, all done in view of the fabulous fall colours. mont-sainte-anne.com
‘ Synchronized Swimming World Cup, October 2’5 The new aquatic centre at the Université Laval, 15 minutes southwest of the city core, plays host to the world’s top synchronized swimmers as they compete in this major event, held every four years. synchro.ca
‘ MEC’s ‘La Costumée,’ October 26 Dress in your scariest costume for this fun, budget-friendly run on the Plains of Abraham with your choice of 5K, 10K and 15K distances. It’s all part of a season-long race series put on by the Canadian outdoor retailer. events.mec.ca
‘ Tryp by Wyndham Quebec Hotel, 395 Rue de la Couronne (Saint-Roch): In the midst of trendy Saint-Roch, this clean, contemporary hotel is a 20-minute walk from the walls of the Old Town. It features a pool, sauna and 24-hour fitness room. Ask staff for advice on running routes. tryphotels.com
‘ Chez Boulay, 1110 Rue Saint-Jean (Vieux-Québec): Splurge on a meal at this top-rated restaurant. Sample dishes made with the best of local ingredients: fir-tree-scented salmon tartare, for instance, or a seasonal fruit and camomile tart with cloudberry coulis. chezboulay.com
‘ Le Cercle, 228 Rue St-Joseph Est (Saint-Roch): This popular arts and music venue is also home to a thriving farm-to-table restaurant known as much for its extensive wine list as for its dedication to supporting local growers and producers. le-cercle.ca
‘ Om Prana, 241 Rue St-Joseph Est (Saint-Roch): This gluten-free and vegan café shares space with a yoga and meditation centre, and sells fresh juices and smoothies, plus raw and cooked dishes. omprana.ca
‘ Marché du Vieux-Port, 160 Quai Saint-André (Vieux Québec): Stop in before a day trip to stock up on bread, cheese and fresh fruit and vegetables from local purveyors. Or take home some jars of Quebec-made products including wild blueberry preserves, smoked fish and seafood, Île d’Orléans crème de cassis and, bien sûr, everything maple. marchevieuxport.com
‘ Cyclo Services, 289 Rue Saint-Paul (Vieux-Québec): Rent a bike to ride the trails in and around the city. Zigzag through the Old Town’s maze of streets, follow the path of the St. Lawrence River or journey to the Huron-Wendat town of Wendake (about 15 kilometres away) with its scenic park and waterfall. cycloservices.net
‘ École de cirque de Québec, 750 2nd Avenue (Vieux Limoilou): Located in a repurposed stone church, Quebec’s circus school trains both working and aspiring pros. There is also room for amateurs young and old in search of some fun with their fitness, via tourist-friendly three-hour welcome sessions for kids and adults. ecoledecirque.com