Quebec encompasses one-sixth of Canada’s entire land area from arctic tundra to fertile lowland plains (now abundant with vineyards and specialty farms) to the ski-resort-studded Laurentides, the world’s oldest mountain range. Roughly 71,000 square miles of freshwater lakes and rivers offer ample opportunities to explore by boat.
And while Québécois account for more than four-fifths of the Canadian French-speaking population, it is not necessary to speak French in order to enjoy a successful trip. Montreal’s cafés and art museums and Quebec City’s 400-year-old fortification walls are equally impressive and easy to find for Francophones and Anglophones alike.
The birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, Trivial Pursuit, and the snowblower, “La Belle Province” is best explored by following your stomach. From Haitian tassot, to tourtière and tire sur la neige, to the fresh trout and wild currant of local, original chefs, Quebec is meant to be savored all year long.
Cait Etherton is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Travel. Follow her journey on Twitter.