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Québec City is the capital of the province of Québec. It is also the oldest fortified city in North America and is such a beautiful city that it is a very popular tourist destination. There are more than 300 hotels, Bed and Breakfast establishments and Tourist homes.
A lot of people associate Québec with Montreal, and do not realize that there is a separate city in the Province of Québec called Québec City (or Ville de Québec). The IJA 2015 festival is in Québec City. The festival director is Véronique Provencher, assisted by her experienced Turbo Fest team.
Québec City is the oldest French speaking city in North America. It was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain as a trading post. Winters were harsh, and the town barely numbered 100 settlers by 1627 when it was taken by a British adventurer. France retook the town in 1632 and the population began to expand. By 1650 the regular population was 500, and then 1300 in 1681. In 1759 the British were back. General Wolfe besieged the city and fought a brief battle with French general Marquis de Montcalm.
The new British administrator petitioned the King of England to allow the captured population to retain the French language and their religion, which was granted. Québec has remained predominately French speaking within Canada.
The town is built on an escarpment with upper and lower towns. Merchants and sailors tended to live in the lower town near the river, while the soldiers and nobles lived up above. There was a large transient population of traders as furs were shipped to Europe.
Today, Québec City is a large, modern city with suburbs. It still has an historic upper and lower town district, sometimes known as Old Québec. There is a funicular railway between the two for those reluctant to walk up the sometimes steep and narrow streets. The IJA festival will center around the Québec City Circus School (École de Cirque) in the suburb of Limoilou, which is not far at all from Old Québec. UNESCO has designated Québec City a world heritage site.
Québec may be the only French speaking province in Canada, but you won’t have to learn the language to enjoy your visit. Québec City thrives on tourists in the summer. You will not have difficulty using English. If you want to try out the French that you learned in school, you will find that people appreciate the effort. Most of the festival materials will be in English and French, as will announcements. It will be no more confusing than a normal IJA festival. When was the last time you actually understood an announcement at a festival, anyway?
At the IJA 2000 festival in Montreal, a frequent question was “Do they do nothing but eat here? There are so many restaurants!” Get ready to eat well in Québec City. There are lots of great restaurants there as well. And if you are too rushed for fine dining, there is always poutine. Poutine seems to have evolved into a fast food delicacy. It is a combination of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Gourmet versions may have smoked meat, chicken, or sausage added. It is a quick, but satisfying snack.
There will be a lot of events going on simultaneously with the IJA festival. Québec is in festival mode all summer long. Summer fills in the time while we are waiting for the famous Québec winter carnival.
Indoor shows, outdoor shows, music, theatre, tours, museums, boat excursions, and so on. If you have a blended family of jugglers and non-jugglers then you need to bring the whole family because there will be lots to interest everyone. Perhaps a week won’t be enough time to see it all.
Check out the Québec region tourist website. Summer temperatures are generally mid 70 to mid 80 F. It can get cool in the evening, so do bring a sweater.
Are you an avid cyclist? Québec has some of the best cycling in Canada. La Route Verte has 5000 kilometers of bike routes throughout the province. There are some spectacular rides around Québec City and the Ile d’Orléans. And great mountain biking challenges at nearby Mont St. Anne.