UNESCO sitesWorld Heritage and Biosphere Reserves
Québec is privileged to have six of its most remarkable natural or cultural sites officially designated by UNESCO, in the same class as the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks or the Niagara Escarpment. Discover the treasures guarded by these sites which earn them recognition by this international organization.
In 1985 UNESCO included Québec City's historic Old Town on the list of World Heritage sites, which are of inestimable value to humanity. Founded in 1608 by the French explorer Champlain, Québec City is the only city in North America to retain its ramparts, bastions, gates and defence works. The urban combination formed by the Haute-Ville, located at the summit of a cape, with its churches, convents, the Citadel and the famous Château Frontenac, and the Basse-Ville, with its Place-Royale and centuries-old homes, is a lovely example of a fortified colonial town.
UNESCO also included Parc national de Miguasha, in Gaspésie. The sea cliffs of this 87 ha (215 acres) site, located on the Baie des Chaleurs, contains fish and plant fossils that explain how life existed over 380 million years ago. The quality of their condition and their importance in understanding a page in the Earth’s evolution have resulted in these fossils acquiring considerable scientific notoriety over the years. The Natural History Museum highlights this precious fossiliferous heritage.
Biosphere reserves are sites recognized by UNESCO within the framework of its Man and the Biosphere Program, which tangibly innovates and targets sustainable conservation and development. Québec possesses four of these reserves:
Thanks to the Gault Nature Reserve (Nature Centre), visitors can enjoy a peaceful haven just 40 km (24 mi.) south of Montréal. A network of paths allows walkers to discover part of this 10 km2 (3.8 sq. mi.) protected territory and to take advantage of the scenic views of the expansive Montérégie fluvial plain from the mountain’s summit.
Shaped a million years ago by the impact of a meteorite that dug a crater 28 km (17 mi.) in diameter, today this territory is primarily comprised by two major national parks: Grands-Jardins and the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie. Given its wooded and highly fluctuating topography, the Charlevoix shoreline is aligned in a succession of spectacular capes and coves.
This body of water, which is an extension of the St. Lawrence River, is an important migratory stopover for waterfowl, including snowgeese, and where more than 280 bird species can be spotted. It is also home to the largest heron nesting grounds in North America. Visitors can travel by boat to explore the picturesque channels that run through its archipelago.
Located north of Baie-Comeau (Manicouagan), this vast forested territory of 55,000 km2 (21,235 sq. mi.) includes Monts Groulx (the highest peak reaching 1,100 m / 3,600 ft.), the Manicouagan meteorite crater, Île René-Levasseur, and enormous hydroelectric facilities, such as the breathtaking Barrage Daniel-Johnson.