5 Hidden Gems in Quebec That Are Worth Exploring
You haven’t fully experienced Quebec until you’ve checked out these quirky sights and off-the-beaten-path wonders.
Gaze at the Galaxy
Over the past several decades, the municipalities surrounding the Mont-Mégantic International Dark Sky Reserve have made a sustained effort to eliminate light pollution, making this one of the best places in Canada to go stargazing. Camping sites and cabins are available, and true astronomy diehards can climb to the famous observatory. Notre-Dame-des-Bois, Quebec.
Photo: Musée de l’Accordéon
Squeeze a Box
What the fiddle is to Newfoundlanders the 10-button diatonic accordion is to the Québécois. The Montmagny Accordion Museum pays homage to the humble squeezebox with 150 handcrafted, antique specimens and a fascinating overview of the instrument’s contribution to jazz, folk and classical music. Each September, fans gather for the Carrefour Mondial, a two-day festival celebrating all things accordion, with food, line dancing and performances from around the globe. This year’s edition is scheduled for September 1 to 3. Montmagny, Quebec.
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Stop for Fries
Cantine Chez Ben is one of Quebec’s most iconic roadside stops, thanks to a gloriously kitschy, larger-than-life sign featuring the eponymous chef, hot dog in hand. The diner’s excellent poutine—available in Italian, barbecue and ground-beef varieties—comes heaped with giant squeaky curds. Go after dark, when the Ben sign lights up like the Vegas strip. Granby, Quebec.
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Ride a Cable Car
Some hidden gems in Quebec are “hidden” in plain sight. The often-overlooked Old Quebec City Funicular has been ferrying people between the Upper Town and Lower Town since 1879. The ride is great fun, as are the sights on both ends of the trip. At the top, you’ll find the majestic Fairmont Château Frontenac, the stone ramparts surrounding the city and row upon row of scenic copper-roofed homes. Down below, there’s the colonial Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church and the original home of fur trader Louis Jolliet, where the entrance to the funicular is located. Quebec City.
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Step Back in Time
A walk through the open-air museum of Val-Jalbert, once a pulp-factory company town, is like immersing yourself in the 1920s: each of the 70-odd buildings is meticulously preserved, so you half expect to find the convent schoolhouse filled with children and the mill bustling with workers. Visitors can book a stay in one of the period-era homes or mill-worker houses. Val-Jalbert, Quebec.
For more hidden gems in Quebec, check out the best day trips from Montreal.