A June 2002 trip
to Quebec City by zabelle
Quote: Je me souviens "I will remember" is the motto of the Province de Quebec. It refers to their fallen heros but could just as easily refer to every tourist who visits there. Every moment of your visit will be one that you will want to remember time and time again.
If this is your first visit then you must walk along the Terrace Dufferin and take the Funicular to the lower city. Gaze at the marvelous Chateau Frontenac in the moonlight and sit at a sidewalk café and enjoy people watching. Take the ferry to Levis or a dinner cruise on the river. But for us, these are things we have done before. We were looking for new adventures.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 14, 2002
Loews Le Concorde Hotel
1225 COURS DU GNRAL DE MONTCALM
Quebec City, Quebec
Restaurant | "Cafe Bar sur la Cap"
The setting is very nice, modern and bright. The only thing that was lacking was any warmth in the staff. No one checked back to make sure everything was okay and the only smile we got was when our waitress picked up the check. They could take a lesson from all the other Loews Hotel employees.
In the evening you can stop by for a drink or a bar snack. There are video slot machines here too for those that enjoy a little gambling.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 14, 2002
96 Belgrave Gate
Quebec City, Quebec LE1 3GR
Restaurant | "L'Astral "
They offer a grand buffet as well as three course menus. I ordered the lamb cutlet with thyme sauce. Al had the Sirloin steak. For a starter we had the choice of cream of carrot soup or salad. Al had the carrot soup, I had the salad. The soup was a good size bowl with very strong carrot flavor. My salad was fresh, with flower petals and chunks of lobster with a great dressing. The breadbasket had 3 different kinds of rolls. We loved 2, didn't care for the sundried tomato rolls.
My lamb cutlet was a surprise, it was lamb chops. I asked the waiter and he said yes these were lamb cutlets, I said no, bad translation, these are lamb chops. He says rack of lamb, yes but those aren’t cutlets, cutlets are thin and have no bone. It’s not a problem I love lamb chops, it was just a surprise. The potatoes are unusual too, they are like scalloped but with no liquid and they have been cut and laid sideways on the plate. They are very good. The vegetables were all baby vegetables. The lamb was a succulent as only tiny little lamb chops can be, and I wanted very badly to pick up those bones and suck on them, but I didn’t.
The steak was tender and delicious and perfectly cooked. It took a while for our waiter to warm up but he had a very friendly side when he wasn’t running around waiting on his 24 customers.
For dessert, you help your self from the buffet. It was like letting a child loose in a toy store. I chose a chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup with a piece of strawberry on the top and a fruit tart. There were many other choices, cheesecake, fruit salad and several different gateaux. I added a cup of hot tea with milk and natural sugar cubes and called it a perfect meal.
L’Astral tries hard to be a romantic restaurant. There is a piano playing softly in the background and the views are outstanding but the tables are so close that it’s impossible to have a private conversation. The din from all the conversations was also nearly overpowering when we first sat down. The whole restaurant is smoking too, so we were occasionally subjected to wafts of smoke overwhelming us. It was less of an experience than it could have been. But certainly it was worth doing once.
1225 Place Montcalm
Quebec, Quebec G1R 4W6
+1 418 647 2222
This was a wonderful restaurant to visit on a sunny June day. We chose to eat on the verandah overlooking the Falls. We had a table right at the edge where we had a great view. Most of the verandah is covered with an awning but the tables at the railing are in the open. Luckily we chose 3pm to eat and the sun was bright when we started our meal but not overly so. By the end we were afraid that the storm clouds that had moved in were going to subject us to a downpour but luckily it didn’t happen until much later.
I had the Romaine Salad with creamy dressing. It was a large salad with pecans, black olives, tomatoes, waffle carrots and mushrooms as well as the romaine. Jason had the Salad with warm goat cheese served on a crouton with grape seed oil. Jen had a Caesar salad which had the unusual addition of capers and Al had sirloin steak and steak fries with a small side salad. Everything was just delicious. The presentations were very nicely done and service was friendly and attentive.
Jason and I tried a local beer "La fin du Monde" which has 9% alcohol and is a cloudy golden color. It was very good, so good in fact that Jason bought some to take home. I have to admit it had quite a punch for beer.
For dessert we shared two items, Bavarian white chocolate cake and coconut cheesecake. The chocolate cake had truffle pieces and was covered with an ivory ganache and had strawberry flavored ginger. The cheesecake was not at all like New York style, it had a cake texture with a cheese taste, and it was served with peppered raspberry coulis. They were both delicious and beautifully plated.
Add the breathtaking view of the Falls to the excellent food and you have a winning combination. The food was not over priced, as is so often the case in locations like this. The four of us ate for $68 Canadian.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 14, 2002
2490 Royale Ave
Beauport, Quebec G1C 1S1
+1 418 663 3330
The décor is simple but charming. The napkins and silverware are set in the middle of the tables in flowerpots. The breadbasket offers wheat and white baguettes, warm and crispy with lots of fresh butter.
I had penne with grilled asparagus, green onions and a creamy sauce. It was one of the best pastas I’ve ever eaten. Al had grilled steak with 5 spices. A very good choice. Jason and Jen shared a meal, surf and turf, skewered giant shrimp and steak kabobs. It is served with an oriental dipping sauce, rice and grilled vegetables. Al gets grilled potatoes instead of rice. It was a very good meal. Service was efficient and friendly.
We were too full to have dessert because the bread was so good we ate too much.
We only had one complaint; they don’t serve any local Quebec beer. I settled for a Corona but I could have that at home.
690 Grande Allee
Quebec City, Quebec
We decided to try a different tactic, and we drove straight up to the top of the Falls and Montmorency Manoir. We still had to pay $7.50 to park, but we saved the cable car fee.
Walking on the suspension bridge over the Falls is not for the faint of heart. You take a walkway from the Terrace at the Manoir, and you can stop at an observation platform two staircases down. It juts out and gives a fine view of the fall. Back up the stairs and up two more sets takes you to the bridge. I’m not usually bothered by heights, but the view over the falls made me a little nervous. I was reluctant to linger in the center of the bridge. You are walking on wood, and it has ever the slightest give that makes for a feeling of insecurity. I was glad to reach the other side. I did stop to take some photos though. I noticed a lot of people clinging to each other, so I guess I wasn’t the only nervous one in the bunch.
Nerves aside, it was awesome. It’s certainly the best way to truly appreciate the power and magnificence of these falls. Those 272 feet seem like a lot more when you’re standing right over them. What really surprised me was looking away from the Falls, the river looks so innocent and quiet, there is no hint of the turmoil that is about to unfold.
If you have trouble with stairs there is a path that runs in back of the Manoir that doesn’t involve any. It takes you through a park right to the bridge.
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
2490 Ave Royale
Quebec City, Quebec
Attraction | "Ste Petronille"
As you come off the bridge, go up the hill and take a right at the first traffic light. The information center will be on your right. You may want to stop here to pick up some information or the headphone tour along Rue Royale. We didn’t stop this time. We were looking for the local vineyard.
About a mile down the road on the right-hand side you will see a sign for Vignoble Sainte Petronille. There is a small wooden building down the dirt road; this is the store. They have been operating here for the past 12 years and this is a simple, family-run operation. The store sells only wine; it comes in red, white and rose. They do give guided tours of their operation but we didn’t take one. We were looking for a nice local gift to bring home and this fit the bill perfectly. We were surprised, considering how small the store was, that they took visa. This was nothing like any other vineyard store I’ve ever visited, but it was perfect for this village. Nothing slick about it. They are open all year and can be reached for tour information at 418-828-9554.
Our next stop was the Chocolaterie de L’Ile d’Orleans . We were looking for a snack and we saw the small restaurant adjacent to the shop. We never did get to the restaurant. The shop is located at the very tip of the island. You are greeted by the smell of the sea as you step out of the car. I was surprised because I had never realized that the St Lawrence was salty this far in, but it definitely has the smell of the ocean.
If you are looking for wonderful Belgian chocolate, done in unique flavors and forms, this is your place. I bought some chocolate boxes filled with chocolates as well as filled chocolates and boxed biscuits in a mixed nut flavor. All of their products are made by hand. No shortcuts are taken in the production of this chocolate. The walls have plaques telling the history of the chocolate, and also how it is harvested and processed. As my son said, he now knows more about chocolate than he ever wanted to know.
We treated ourselves to cones filled with Belgian chocolate ice cream and raspberry sorbet. They offered wonderful choices, including caramel ice cream and grapefruit sorbet. They also sell local honey in beautiful handpainted jars. This makes a great stop for a gift or just to satisfy your sweet tooth. The staff speaks English and they take credit cards.
Quebec City, Quebec
Attraction | "Ursuline Convent"
Today, the remains of the huge complex which developed over the years is located on the Rue Danconna. There are three areas to visit. The museum closes earlier than the chapel and the Marie de l’Incarnation Center, so we bought our entrance ticket first, and then we visited the chapel and center.
The chapel is the final resting-place of General Montcalm. There is a plaque on the wall in his memory. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. There is an oratory to Marie, which was constructed in 1972. It has modern stained glass windows depicting events in her life and an impressive granite monument with her name and dates.
The Center tells the story of Marie Guyart's life both in France and in Canada. We were taken on an escorted tour through the different displays. It was a small museum, but our guide knew her subject well. They have a tiny little store selling postcards and religious items.
The museum itself deals more with life within the school and the convent. They have displays on the native Amerindians and also on the main founders Marie and Madam de Peltrie. The museum itself was built on the foundation of Madam de Peltrie's house. Be sure to look for the painting of Marie; it was done to replace the one lost in a fire that destroyed the convent. It was painted by Hughes Pommier, and if you take the ghost tour, you will be glad you paid special attention to it.
You will leave this complex with a new respect for these women, who gave up comfortable lives in France to travel for 88 days and arrive in a wild land of brutal climate and primitive accommodations. They taught reading, math, and household knowledge. Marie learned to speak Algonquin, Montagnais and Huron, in order to be able to teach the native girls about Catholicism, in addition to practical household skills.
Marie Guyart was a wife and mother, a mystic and a businesswoman. She has been beatified by the Catholic Church. Her cause for Sainthood has been revived in recent years.
12 Donnaconna St
Quebec, Quebec G1R 4T1
+1 418 694 0694
What you get for your $10 is a fast-paced tour of the lower and upper sections of Vieux Quebec, with interesting stores about the seedier aspects of life over the last 400 years. We heard tales of treason, mayhem, murder and tragedy. I have always thought that I had a pretty good grasp of the history of Quebec, but all the events that were acted out for us were news to me. I was thoroughly entertained.
If this sounds like something you might enjoy, keep in mind that there will be a lot of walking and it will be at a brisk pace. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to climb some very steep streets and one set of stairs. This is not for the out-of-shape. We know our way around pretty well and my husband commented that we could have done the whole walk in half an hour without all the backtracking. I felt the same way but in order to give us our money''s worth we sometimes seemed to be going in circles.
The tour starts where Rue Champlain meets the Rue Petit Champlain and it ends at a little park behind the Chateau Frontenac. You won''t have any trouble recognizing the tour guide; she has on a greatcoat, a hat, and carries a lantern. We parked in the Rue Champlain (no charge after 6pm on Sunday) and had to take the Funicular back down after the tour. Also, eat before the tour if you take the 9pm, especially on Sunday. By the time we finished it was 10:45 and all the restaurants were closing.
We all enjoyed the tour very much and certainly got a good workout in the bargain.
Update, July 2003/The tour route has changed. There is no back tracking and the route is much more direct. We even had a breather stop at the top of the hill. Also there are no more stairs. About half the stories have been changed since last year and the tour now ends in a haunted building. I won''t ruin your fun by giving away the location. It is definately still a good evenings fun.
Rue Petit Champlain / Rue Champlain
Quebec City, Quebec
Attraction | "The Canada Odyssey"
The multimedia part of the exhibit is located in three rooms. You sit down on a bench and place headphones on your head. You can adjust the volume and it is offered in a choice of 4 languages: English, French, Spanish and Japanese. Your hosts are Generals Montcalm and Wolfe, with an appearance by Abraham Martin. The characters appear as holograms.
We listen as both of the generals are interviewed and both give their slant on the history of the land known as Kebec. There is lots of history and a little humor thrown in. General Montcalm tells General Wolfe he knows that he isn’t a tourist because he doesn’t have a reservation. The lesson begins with Jacques Cartier and goes through the 1982 when the Canadian Constitution was returned from England.
I found it well-done and very educational. It was light and the format was interesting. One thing I found particularly interesting and disturbing was the sense of paranoia when it comes to the United States. British Columbia was promised a railroad within 10 years to keep it from joining the U.S., and there appears to be a general fear that the U.S. wants to annex Canada. I found this troubling; after all, I don’t think we have invaded since 1776!
In the third room there is an animatronic reporter named Walter who buzzes quickly through two world wars and Canada’s independence. There is a subtle emphasis on French Canadians' disapproval of conscription.
After that part ends, you go through an educational exhibit on the flora and fauna of Canada. You can sit and listen at some of the exhibits, and others have computer screens and mouses. There are also displays on some famous Canadians in the sciences. I sat at one computer and mapped the longitude of Quebec. Kids will love this area.
We were able to see the exhibit at the family rate of $20. When I asked the guide in the lobby, she said that many people compare it to the "Quebec Experience," but think theirs is better. It is a more comprehensive lesson than the "Quebec Experience," which is a bit more of a show and less of a lesson. If you can only see one, I would recommend this one, especially if you have children.
Battlefields National Park
835 Wilfrid-laurier Ave (near Honoré-mercier)
Quebec, Quebec G1R 2L3
+1 418 648 4071
VAT - Quebec charges several different taxes. I feel sorry for the locals who have to live in this highly-taxed country. You, however, will be able to get a refund of part of the tax you pay for lodging and shopping. Unfortunately, Quebec no longer refunds their provincial, tax but the Federal tax is refundable. Just remember a few simple rules. Your purchases must be at least $50 before tax, per receipt, and total at least $200, and your receipt must break out the tax. You can pick up official refund forms at any Quebec information booth. You can mail in your receipts, or if you're driving, the duty free shops at the border can do the refund for you there.
Weather - This is a hard one. Even in June we needed to wear a warm coat or sweater at night. It is very unpredictable. Some years we roast, some we freeze. It is often rainy so pack layers: this way you can add or remove as needed.
Walking - Quebec is, above all, a walking city. It would be almost impossible not to walk. You need to wear comfortable shoes and be able to go up and down the hills and stairs. If walking is a problem, pick your hotel carefully. There are several that are located within the gates of the old city and this would minimize the amount of walking necessary.
Cheap Eats- We made a nice meal of fresh bread, ham, cheese, beer and chips from a convenience store near our hotel the night of the Ghost Tour. They stay open late, sell beer into the wee hours, and have a wide variety of foods. Total cost for dinner for four was $16 Canadian.
French - remember this is a French speaking country, and even if most Quebecois do speak English, its always nice to learn a few key phrases in French just to show that we are not ugly Americans. Believe it or not, not everyone in the world speaks English, and after all, why should they? We are visiting their country.