Quebec Culture: Living Outdoors

We thought it would be fun to share a few cultural things we’ve noticed during our last 6 weeks or so living in Québec so that you can grow to love this place and the people as much as we do!

All three of these cultural observations tie back to one cornerstone component of the Québec culture: life is lived outside. People walk to grocery stores and restaurants. They walk to bus stops, take the bus, and then walk to their final destination. They go for daily walks on trails and sidewalks. They sit on their balconies and read books. They eat outside. They cultivate gardens. Being outside isn’t about adventuring… it’s just part of daily life.

One of the first things we noticed is that nearly every apartment and home has a private outdoor space. It could be a balcony, a yard of varying sizes, or a patio. But just about every home has one.

There are parks in every neighborhood. The kids (and parents) in a given area all congregate in this central location to play and chat. Our kids have played tag and hide and seek with kids who don’t speak any English. But they somehow make it work!

The public transportation system is robust. We constantly see buses driving around and there are bus stops in every neighborhood and every part of town. At any hour of the day, you can see people waiting patiently at bus stops throughout the city.

The city has intentionally guarded green spaces. Parks and outside recreational areas aren’t added as an afterthought to city development. Instead, things are built around and in order to augment these spaces. Just yesterday, while taking my own morning walk, I found an outdoor Ping Pong table, right in the green space in the middle of a downtown shopping area!

Last observation for today: many stores and malls seem to have small or underground parking lots, based on the cultural norm of walking or taking public transportation. And in many cases, the majority of parking lots are behind buildings, not in front. Street parking may be available, but the stores will often start just behind the sidewalk, making it more convenient for pedestrian traffic. You can see in this picture of Old Québec that the street parking on this road is really limited, and the store fronts are just right there.

Let us know if there are other cultural things you’d like to learn about and we’ll learn right alongside you!

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