By Marie Asselin
November 13, 2014
Francis Vachon / Alamy

Quebec is not a densely urban area, so nature is never far away. Look around, and you’ll soon discover trees, a patch of grass, or a park, which are some of our city’s best natural assets. They come in all shapes and sizes, too: from the small and bloomy Jardin Jeanne d’Arc to the historical giant Plaines d’Abraham, these green spots reflect the variety of nature. Benches, tables, fountains, restrooms, trails, playgrounds, and sometimes even restaurants make these are ideal places to spend an afternoon outside. In the summer, our green oases overflowing with multicolor flowers and blooming trees are perfect spaces to decompress, especially after a day touring top attractions, museums, and other hotspots. They offer a great respite for families too: kids love discovering so many open places to play spontaneously! In the winter, the same parks become the natural destination for walkers, cross-country skiers, or simply admirers of the white-clad scenery. Here are five top Quebec City parks that should not be missed.

Plaines d’Abraham

This is a park that needs no introduction: Covered by flowery, wooded and grassy plains and valleys, the Plaines d’Abraham serve as the lungs of Québec City. A significant part of the dramatic historical Conquest took place on the Plaines in 1759, but today, they set the stage for entertainment, such as the Winter Carnival and the Summer Music Festival.

Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain

A gift from the city to its citizens for its 400th anniversary in 2008, Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain is a spectacular linear park that runs along the St. Lawrence River for 1.5 miles. Visitors looking to enjoy the city’s fresh air will find a bicycle lane, separated from a pedestrian path; a soccer field, a children’s playground, and many recreation areas. The Quai des Cageux, at the very end of the Promenade, features an observation tower and café serving delicious lunches and snacks.

Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge

Located just out of the downtown area, the Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge is a beautifully maintained park that will delight amateur horticulturalists and field ornithologists. An interpretation center reveals all the secrets of the species that live there. In the summer, an elegant tearoom serves gourmet sandwiches, salads, and pastries, and in the winter, a sugar shack is set up.

Jardin Saint-Roch

The Jardin Saint-Roch was at the core of efforts to revitalize the neighborhood of the same name in the early 1990s. Today, it lies at the heart of one of the most dynamic business centers of the city. The park features elaborate flower arrangements that change through the summer season, a pond, and a pretty waterfall that flows from the cliff between the upper and lower towns. It’s an ideal place to enjoy a picnic purchased on nearby Saint-Joseph Street.

Jardin Jeanne d'Arc

As one of the smallest yet prettiest gardens in the city, the Jardin Jeanne d’Arc is located on the Plaines d’Abraham. Its rectangular grounds are adorned at the center with an imposing monument depicting Joan of Arc on her horse. From March to October, you can admire more than 150 species of flowers and annual plants. The park becomes a “haunted garden” for Halloween, and then it is decorated with thousands of lights for the winter.