The name "Québec" is derived from an Algonquin word meaning "where the river narrows". The Algonquins, a distinct indigenous people, were the first to inhabit the city's modern-day North Shore. A flat, low-lying area along the northern coast became the first settlement of French explorers in 1608 and gradually spread to the surrounding cliffs for obvious strategic reasons.
The Upper Town and Lower Town make up the city's initial topology. It was climbing those steep cliffs one night in 1763 that soldiers of the British Empire, after several unsuccessful attempts, finally overwhelmed New France's troops, making the region part of England's vast colonial occupation of North America. This reign abruptly came to an end 13 years later with the American Revolution. Fortunately, French-speaking Quebecers remained a forceful majority, thus retaining their language and culture to this day.
Today's Québec is the provincial government's seat and is located in its geographical centre. The city and its inhabitants offer visitors a particularly warm welcome. Its architecture and narrow streets speak of its proud past as the heart of French North American culture, best exemplified by the numerous craftspeople and antique shops that offer their fascinating, time-worn wares to curious visitors.
Every year, major events such as the Québec Winter Carnival and numerous other cultural festivals take place, where outdoor terraces teem with Quebecers and tourists alike, attesting to the city's uniquely sophisticated and very European lifestyle.
The Carnival, features enormous ice slides designed to thrill visitors from around the world. Traditional Québécois food and drink are also on the menu. Superb skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities are a stone's throw away just North of the city, as well. The Quebec City Summer Music Festival showcases its eclectic roster of international acts. Québec's gift to the world, Cirque du Soleil, also offers one of its unique shows under the stars to delight visitors and residents alike. Horse-drawn carriage tours are always available, as well as, more recently, the Hôtel de Glace, a hotel made of ice, constructed annually where the curious can comfortably sleep on beds of ice, wrapped up in animal skins; an appreciative nod to the Northern people who first inhabited this wonderful province.
For more information on what to do in Québec City, visit the Québec tourism website.