view from the top deck on rue Saint-Jean in the Old Quebec section of the city

Old Quebec Bus Tours: Les Tours du Vieux Quebec

Whenever we’re in a new city, and especially if we’re there for only a few days, we like to do a bus tour, because it’s a great way to cover a large area in a relatively short time, and also helps us see if there are any places that we might like to visit again during the rest of our stay.

During our recent trip to Québec City, we spent the first day of our short stay there admiring the city from the second deck of a big red bus, on a sightseeing tour organized by Les Tours du Vieux Québec (Old Quebec Tours).

Where Do You Get On?

The tours begin in the Old Québec, at Place d’Armes, right by the famous (and impressive) Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, but you can get on the bus at any of the 12 stops. Just make sure to check the bus schedule to see what time the next bus is coming, because they depart every 30 minutes so, and you might be in for quite a bit of a wait if you just miss the previous one, like we did the second time we boarded.

route of Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec (click on the photo to open the pdf of the official tour guide)
route of Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec (click on the photo to open the pdf of the official tour guide)

Most bus stops are right in front of a museum, hotel, or another landmark, but the stop signs are not terribly big, and sometimes hard to notice, because they might be high up on a pole.

You need to look for the following:

bus stop for Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec
bus stop for Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec
bus stop for Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec
bus stop for Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec

The stop at Place d’Youville, for instance, was a bit tricky to find. That stop is not really in the square but on the corner of Rue Saint-Jean and Rue D-Youville, right by the Subway shop.

What Will You See?

Here are just a few photos of places you’ll see on this tour:

Québec City Gare du Palais (Central Station)

Quebec City Train Station
Quebec City Train Station

The Quebec City train station built in 1915 is between stops #1 and #2. You’ll drive right by the building again between stops #5 and #6 when the bus goes in the opposite direction. You can catch the train to Montreal from here.

Benjo Toy Store
entrance to the Benjo Toy Store
entrance to the Benjo Toy Store

Unfortunately we did not have time to go inside the Benjo Toy Store on 550, boulevard Charles Est, close to bus stop #2. According to the tour guide, you can play with the toys all you want in that store. Note the VIP entrance for kids in the middle, between regular sized doors.

Views while driving down streets by the St. Lawrence River
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac as seen from Rue du Marche-Champlain by the harbor side
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac as seen from Rue du Marche-Champlain by the harbor side
corner of Rue du Marche-Champlain and Rue du Cul de Sac
corner of Rue du Marche-Champlain and Rue du Cul de Sac

After venturing into the Quartier Nouvo St-Roch area (stop #2) and stopping at the Musée de la civilisation à Québec (Museum of Civilization) (stop #3), the bus tour goes right by the St. Lawrence River, down Rue Dalhousie, Rue du Marche-Champlain, and Boulevard Champlain. This part of the trip offers some neat photo ops.

Statue of Alphonse and Dorimene Desjardins
statue of Alphonse and Dorimene Desjardins
statue of Alphonse and Dorimene Desjardins
statue of Alphonse and Dorimene Desjardins
statue of Alphonse and Dorimene Desjardins

This interesting statue of a couple “split” or “growing out of” stone walls by the Centre des congrès de Québec (Québec City Convention Centre) (stop #6) is commemorating Alphonse and Dorimene Desjardins – the original founders of Desjardins Group, the largest cooperative financial group in Canada.

Observatoire de la Capitale and the Marie-Guyart Building

The Observatoire de la Capitale  is located on the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building (bus stop #7) and is the highest vantage point in Québec City.

looking up at the Observatoire de la Capitale
looking up at the Observatoire de la Capitale

Don’t miss the fresco on the building to the right (Fresque BMO de la capitale nationale du Québec) commemorating Québec City’s political history. Per Quebec City and Area website, the fresco “depicts the façade of Québec’s Parliament Building and various individuals who—each in his or her own way—left their mark on the province’s political development.”

Fresque BMO de la capitale nationale du Québec
Fresque BMO de la capitale nationale du Québec
Grande Allée Est

After stopping at the Marie-Guyart Building, the bus heads down the Grande Allée Est, and past its charming townhouses and sidewalk cafes.

townhouses lining Grande Allée Est
townhouses lining Grande Allée Est
cafés Grande Allée Est
cafés Grande Allée Est

That’s another place that we’d probably never see if we had not taken the bus tour. It was just tad too far to walk with kids from where we stayed.

Battlefield Park or the Plains of Abraham
view onto Marie-Guyart Building (tall building on the right) and Hôtel Le Concorde Québec with a round disk of the rotating restaurant on top (on the left) from the Plains of Abraham
view onto Marie-Guyart Building (tall building on the right) and Hôtel Le Concorde Québec with a round disk of the rotating restaurant on top (on the left) from the Plains of Abraham

The bus tour makes a loop through the Battlefield Park or the Plains of Abraham, where the British Army captured the control of Quebec City from the French in 1759.

According to the park’s web site, “the park is to Québec what Central Park and Hyde Park are to New York and London: a city park of outstanding value, the lungs of the city.”

It’s a beautiful green space, where apparently in the summer lots of concerts are held.

Promenade des Gouverneurs (Governors Promenade)
view onto St. Lawrence River from the Promenade des Gouverneurs (Governors Promenade)
view onto St. Lawrence River from the Promenade des Gouverneurs (Governors Promenade)

Promenade des Gouverneurs (Governors Promenade), overlooking the St. Lawrence River, forms an extension of Dufferin Terrace in front of the Château Frontenac, and leads all the way to Battlefields Park or the Plains of Abraham.

We did not get off the bus to walk along the promenade. You can read more about it in “Take a Stroll Down the Governors Promenade in Quebec City!” by a traveling couple Justin + Lauren, who saw the promenade during late summer, I believe, or in “Quebec City – The Governors’ Promenade” by a bi-cultural Canadian, metrobabel, who ventured there during the winter.

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is located at bus stop #10, quite a bit to the west from the Old Québec. We did go there on the hop-on-hop-off tour, and just had to make sure we were done sightseeing about five to ten minutes before the next bus arrived.

Artistic giant lampshades on Cartier Avenue
giant lampshades on avenue Cartier
giant lampshades on avenue Cartier
giant lampshades on avenue Cartier
giant lampshades on avenue Cartier

The artistic giant lampshades on Cartier Avenue, between stops #10 and #11 are decorated with copies of selected works by Alfred Pellan and Fernand Leduc from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. We were hoping to find some time in the evening to see them lit, but we never did, alas. They must look really neat in the evening!

J. A. Moisan
J. A. Moisan on rue Saint Jean, which claims to be the oldest grocery store in North America
J. A. Moisan on rue Saint Jean, which claims to be the oldest grocery store in North America

The store J. A. Moisan on rue Saint-Jean, established in 1855, claims to be the oldest gourmet grocery store in North America. It is located between stops #10 and #11.

Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste on rue Saint-Jean
Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste on rue Saint-Jean

Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste on rue Saint-Jean used to be an Anglican St. Matthew’s church. In 1979 the building was purchased by City of Québec and turned into a library. The library is located between stops #10 and #11. It has beautiful stain glass windows, so do visit it if you can. It’s a library, so the entry is free.

Streets of Old Québec
corner of Rue Saint-Jean, Rue Garneau, and Côte de la Fabrique
corner of Rue Saint-Jean, Rue Garneau, and Côte de la Fabrique
corner of Rue Saint-Jean and Rue Couillard
corner of Rue Saint-Jean and Rue Couillard

Between stops #11 and #12 the tour bus will drive down rue Saint-Jean in Old Québec. The old, stone and brick buildings give this part of the city a very European feel.

Québec City Hall
Québec City Hall
Québec City Hall

Québec City Hall built in 1896, was  designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984. It is located between stops #11 and #12.

Hotel Clarendon and Édifice Price (Price Building)
Hotel Clarendon and Édifice Price
Hotel Clarendon and Édifice Price

Hotel Clarendon (the mustard colored and the brick building on the left) is the oldest hotel in Québec City, opened in 1870.

Built in 1930-1931, the tall, 18-floor Édifice Price (the Price Building) to the right is the tallest building in the Old Québec historical district, and one of the oldest skyscrapers in Canada. Two upper floors of this building house the apartments of the Premier of Quebec.

You will see these two buildings between stops #11 and #12.

Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument)
Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument)
Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument)
Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument)
Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument)
Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument)
Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument)

As you pass Édifice Price, make sure to look to the right, to admire the striking Monument aux Frères éducateurs (Teaching Brothers Monument), by Jules Lasalle, erected in 2000 to commemorate the work of religious orders who operated schools in the province since Québec’s founding.

Hôtel du Parlement (Parliament Building)
Hôtel du Parlement (Parliament Building)
Hôtel du Parlement (Parliament Building)

Hôtel du Parlement (Parliament Building) houses the offices of the Parliament of Quebec – Lieutenant-Governor and the National Assembly.

It is one of the few buildings in North America designed in Second Empire style. The free guided tour of the Parliament Building includes the National Assembly Chamber and the Legislative Council Chamber. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to see the tour. Hôtel du Parlement (Parliament Building) is located close to stops #8 and #12.

Other Interesting Sights

In addition to the above, I also found the following interesting:

small but very charming front yard somewhere in Quebec City
small but very charming front yard somewhere in Quebec City

The photo above does not fully convey how charming and pretty was this small front yard by which we drove. I’m afraid I don’t remember what street this was. It was somewhere in the western part of the city, close to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, but I don’t remember if it was on the way to the museum or after.

sculpture by the Grand Théâtre de Québec
sculpture by the Grand Théâtre de Québec

This interesting sculpture is located in a small grassy area by the Grand Théâtre de Québec. If the tour guide said anything about it, I’m afraid I missed it, or forgot it, but I did manage to snap a photo.

Did the kids like the bus tour?

It was terribly cold and sometimes windy for the end of May the day we went on the bus tour, but both kids decided to stay on the top deck, to see the sites better. My daughter was snapping one photo after another, determined to capture every landmark mentioned by the guide.

my daughter took photos of every landmark mentioned by the tour guide
my daughter took photos of every landmark mentioned by the tour guide

I’d say both kids very much enjoyed sightseeing Québec City this way. Much less tiring than walking.

Tickets

You can buy the tickets for the “Double Decker” Red Loop tour in person at the Tourist Information Kiosk, but you can also buy them online.

The adult ticket is $41.35 CAN, children above 5 pay $25.25 (that’s including all taxes). Family tickets for families of four give you a bit of a discount.

Les Tours du Vieux Québec also offers several other tours, including a seasonal Montmorency Falls & Vieux-Québec Tour, or the Double Decker Evening Tour.

I hope you’ll enjoy the tour as much as we did!

 

We wish to thank the Québec City Tourism Office for providing us with free tickets for the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tour Les Tours du Vieux QuébecWhile we were guest of the Québec City Tourism Office on this tour, the format of the article and all opinions are ours.

Where to Stay in Quebec City

We stayed at Le 760 Honore Mercier Apartment 604 when we visited Quebec City (click on the link to see our review of this place). You can book it, as we did, through Booking.com.

Or, you can stay at one of the other hotels, B&Bs, hostels, or apartments available in that great city. There are plenty to choose from.

Québec City Pinterest Board

If you’re planning a trip to Québec City, feel free to pin this article on Pinterest, or follow our Québec City Pinterest board where we included links to all of the attractions mentioned above, plus several blog posts by other travel bloggers.

Old Quebec Bus Tour: Les Tours du Vieux Quebec Pinterest Pin

Feel free to read our other posts about Quebec City as well!

Invitation to #WeekendWanderlust Link Up

#WeekendWanderlust, hosted by Chris & Heather from A Brit and a Southerner, Jessi & Tara from Outbound Adventurer, Ashley from A Southern Gypsy, Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren, and yours truly, is a collaborative effort to share travel blog posts, and to discuss all travel-related things.

The hosts organize each week a link up through which travel bloggers from around the world can promote their posts, in exchange for a promise to give some attention to other travel bloggers. (One of the rules for linking up is to comment on three linked up posts.)

If the link up is still open, feel free to add a link to one of your posts below, then comment on three linked up posts. And I welcome comments as well, of course!

#WeekendWanderlust link up logo
#WeekendWanderlust link up logo


17 thoughts on “Old Quebec Bus Tours: Les Tours du Vieux Quebec”

  1. I think getting a tour of new city is the way to go. I’m hoping I get to Quebec City this winter. If I do, I’m planning a taking a bus tour, just as you did. Especially interested in seeing the streets of Old Quebec City from a double decker.
    Jody Robbins recently posted…Freebies at Nordstrom Part 1My Profile

    1. Hi Jody,
      I think you will find the double decker does not run during the winter, as it gets too darn cold! It usually runs from mid May until the end of October. All the same, you should check with the company to be sure. I know they offer bus tours throughout the year, just not always the hop-on-hop-off format. I hope this helps!

  2. We’re also a big fan of bus tours, they’re such a great way to get a feel for the city and especially good if you don’t have a huge amount of time. They are also useful when you’re children say that they don’t want to walk any more! I had no idea that Quebec City was quite so beautiful, it looks like a wonderful place to visit. Thanks!
    Katja – globetotting recently posted…My Family Adventure: Unwinding in Bali & the Gili Islands, IndonesiaMy Profile

  3. I’m a huge fun of the on and off bus tours when you don’t have a long visit planned. It’s an affordable and easy way to see all the highlights and get off and walk around and explore for yourself. I’m sure the Old Quebec bus tour is a lovely way to see all the sites in beautiful Quebec City.
    Sue Reddel recently posted…BEST EVER: Breakfast Around The WorldMy Profile

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