Say ‘bonjour’ to quirky Quebec and delve into its best kid-friendly attractions.
Whether it is the much-loved theme park of La Ronde in mammoth Montreal, or the historic old town of Quebec City, this laid-back Francophone province in eastern Canada is perfect for a family city break.
The star of the family-focused show is La Ronde, the biggest amusement park in Quebec and the second biggest in the country. Built for the international Expo of 1967, this national treasure has been updated and reinvigorated, but is still the proud home to the world’s oldest galloping carousel. The range of rides, animations and live performances suit audiences and adrenalin junkies of all ages, including the gentle Butterfly Air for littlies, and the monster rollercoaster aptly known as the Goliath. The park also welcomed the brand new ‘Titan’ in 2017, a huge carousel that hits speeds over 110km per hour.
The park is most popular around July as it is best in summer. Check for opening hours before you visit, as it closes in the off-season. A season pass to La Ronde also admits you into the other attractions owned and operated by theme park giant, Six Flags. You can also purchase special behind-the-scenes access for groups of over fifteen people, entitling you to a unique tour before the park opens its gates to the public.
Time your visit, as La Ronde is the annual host of the world-class L’International des Feux Loto-Quebec, an international fireworks competition. Fancy seeing the coasters and carousels all lit up with colourful sparks as they bang and fizz in the night sky.
What else is in Montreal?
There is plenty more to keep adventurous families occupied in Montreal. Animal lovers should start their exploration at the Biodome, part of Canada’s Space for Life museum complex which also includes a botanical garden, planetarium and insectarium. Once housing an Olympic velodrome, the Biodome (not to be confused with Biosphere) is unique as it allows you to traverse four North American ecosystems and their animal inhabitants in the one building. A walking tour of the Notre-Dame Basilica is worthwhile for history and architecture fans, as is a trip to the Musee des Beaux Arts, Canada’s oldest museum. For lovely views of the area, walk or catch a bus up Mont Royal; the Belvedere Observatory is an excellent vantage point.
What else is in Quebec City?
A three-hour drive north-east of Montreal lies the provincial capital, Quebec City. Here, the history buffs will go even madder for the Musee de la Civilisation and the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage site that is the Old Town. Wander along the old city’s fortified walls, stopping by the Place Royale, Quebec City Citadelle, and the famous, much-photographed Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac hotel. The astonishing Montmorency Falls make an atmospheric backdrop to a parkland bushwalk, standing an impressive 30 metres taller than Niagara Falls. More natural marvels can be found in the Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier, a quick drive from the city centre with its beautiful glacial valleys and coniferous forest plateaux.
Foray into the French region of this beautiful, hearty country and you’ll find family-friendly fun in spades. Whether you satiate a need for speed at La Ronde, fill up on local facts and history at the many museums, or breathe in the fresh air of the great outdoors, the province of Quebec and its two famous cities are awesome destinations for your next getaway.