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Venture outside the walls for a glimpse of the real Québec City. Head to the St-Jean-Baptiste quarter for hipster hideouts and trendy shops. Grande-Allée and avenue Cartier buzz with clubs and bars inside Queen Anne–style mansions. Cafés, galleries, and good restaurants are popping up regularly in St-Roch, the city's urban core. If you do have a car, it's a beautiful drive on boulevard Champlain,
which runs from Lower Town all around the southern edge of Québec City, following the St. Lawrence River: you might want to take a stroll along the Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain, a stunning, modern linear park created for the city’s 400th anniversary, in 2008. Above are the cliffs that lead to the Plains of Abraham, and farther on you'll see the Sillery Coves. Any one of the steep hills will take you back toward the main roads that run east–west or the highways that cross north–south: Duplessis, the farthest west; Henri IV; Robert-Bourassa; and Dufferin-Montmorency.
Seeing all the bustle and upscale commerce here, it’s hard to imagine that 40 years ago, this area was run-down and looking for a new lease...