Die Region Quebec
She is Canada’s largest province – and the most idiosyncratic. In Québec, only French is officially spoken, English is not even the official language, although of course everyone speaks it here. About 79 percent of the eight million inhabitants are native French speakers.
You have always gone your own way here, and the wish of many to break away from Canada is still present today, but it cannot be fulfilled. The new Canadian Constitution of 1982 has still not been ratified by Québec.
And after a narrowly failed independence referendum in 1995, in which 50.58 percent of the population rejected secession from Canada, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled three years later that a province could not unilaterally declare itself independent. After all, in 2006 Québec was recognized as a “nation within a united Canada” to calm the minds.
There are two national holidays in the province: the Fête du Canada on July 1st and the Fête Nationale on June 24th. The provincial flag adorns the French Lily, a lily made of three stylized leaves.
This is all a win for visitors: you get French charm plus North American simplicity. Those who throw in a few French vocabulary are well received. With Hello, Things are going well or one Health makes Québecers happy. Or rather happy.
The language police reach thousands of complaints
Every year, angry citizens send 4,000 complaints to the Québec Language Bureau because they do not feel well informed in French.
In the office, linguists make sure that the Charter of the French Language of 1977 is respected: Everything is Frenchized, street signs (Stop instead of Stop) anyway, with multilingual menu cards, French should always be written in bold. After all: Pasta and Cocktail after much debate, for example, are now allowed without translation.
Like a city in France from the 17th century
Put on your hiking shoes and go: 135 hectares of old town, divided into the upper town on the rocky plateau and the lower town of Petit-Champlain. Upstairs, downstairs over cobblestones, through alleys and arches, past wall paintings that tell the story of the French in North America.
Vieux-Québec looks like a French town from the 17th century. Overly motivated, it was restored in the 1970s, British things were redeveloped. Still a UNESCO World Heritage Site – because of the historic city wall, it is the only one in North America that has been preserved.
The waterfall is more spectacular than the Niagara Falls
Not only is it 30 meters higher than the famous Niagara Falls, but, if you take a closer look, it is also more spectacular because it is less built up: The water of the Montmorency Falls near Quebec City falls over a rock 83 meters deep into the St. Lorenz current.
The cable car takes you up, then you walk on a suspension bridge directly over the waterfall. Sporty people take the panorama staircase carved into the rock, 487 steps. In winter the spray freezes at the foot of the waterfall sugar breadwhat looks like a giant sugar loaf.
Artists make sculptures out of ice
February, when temperatures drop to minus 30 degrees, is the big time for Québec ice cream artists. They shape, saw and hammer filigree sculptures from blocks of ice: figures such as ice dancers and ice hockey players, airplanes, trucks and horse-drawn carriages – and again and again the Gallic rooster, the French rooster.
For example, at the “Saint-Côme en glace” ice cream festival in Lanaudière near Montreal and at the winter carnival in Québec City (February 5-14, 2021). Nice to melt away.
Feed elk and deer from your car
Many Québec visitors do not fare much differently in nature than tourists in Sweden: They wonder where the moose are, a symbol of the Nordic wilderness? The animal can almost only be seen as a pictogram on street signs; it prefers to hide in the woods.
An alternative: the road trip through Parc Oméga – a twelve-kilometer drive-through wildlife park near Montebello, an hour and a half from Montreal. Elk and deer lurk along the way, having learned that carrots are handed to them from the car window. If you are concerned about your vehicle and your health: This tour is also available in a grille-protected VW Caddy.
Maple toffee on a stick is a specialty
How about a maple toffee on a stick in winter? Maple syrup fans swear by in Quebec Maple Taffy. This sticky candy is made by simmering maple sap for a long time. The hot syrup is then poured onto a wooden stick laid out in the snow, where it curdles immediately.
If that’s too sweet for you, order Putin: crispy fries, sprinkled with cheese and soaked in gravy, often refined with a lobster topping: a hearty lumberjack mishmash. There is also the national drink of Québecers: Caribou, a kind of mulled wine, but it has it all – a mix of red wine, rye whiskey and of course a dash of maple syrup.
An environmental museum in the Montreal Biosphere
A round eye-catcher from afar, downright mystical at sunset. The Biosphère Montreal is in a park on the island of Sainte Hélène: a spherical dome with a grid of triangles. It has a diameter of 76 meters.
This imposing dome was originally built for Expo 67 and had an outer shell made of acrylic, which was destroyed by fire during renovation work. Now it is “open”.
It houses an environmental museum that has been dealing with climate change and sustainability since 1995. Tip: the panoramic view on the top platform inside the dome.
“I’m from Québec, and every time I go to a country I say that. It’s my roots, my origins, and it’s the most important thing to me.”
Celine Dion, born in 1968, comes from Charlemagne near Montreal. She wrote music history with the “Titanic” title song “My Heart Will Go On”. She makes it clear again and again that she still doesn’t feel like an English-speaking singer. She once turned down the award for best English-speaking artist on the grounds that she was and will always be a French-speaking singer.
Today she commutes between Paris and Las Vegas, she sold her castle on a private island near Montreal for 25.5 million US dollars after her husband’s cancer death.
Quirky, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.
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