A May 2003 trip
to Quebec City by zabelle
Quote: Bringing our grandson Alex to Quebec was like visiting ourselves for the first time. . Seeing everything from his nine-year-old perspective put a fresh slant on all the old places.
Being spoiled by his great grandma and great-great aunt didn’t hurt, either. Now he was ready to be introduced to Quebec.
We made Montmorency Falls our first stop. This will fascinate children of any age. We took the cable car to the top and walked out onto the bridge over the falls. A short shopping stop at Montmorency Manoir, and we took the cable car back down. Now for the fun part, when we walked up to the bottom of the falls. It’s hard to imagine the power of the falls unless you are drenched by the flying spray; it is so strong, it’s hard to keep your head up.
Day 2 began at the Battlefield Interpretation Center and the Musee de Quebec. Alex was able to quote several of the interesting facts that he learned at the Interpretation Center. We check into the Frontenac and went to Aux Anciens Canadiens for lunch. No visit to Quebec would be complete without a visit to St. Anne Street for a charcoal drawing, and we stood in the rain for an hour while Alex was drawn beautifully.
You will need a car to get to Quebec, and it is easier to get around in the city on foot. You can take a cab or a tour bus, a boat ride or a caleche.
Hotel | "Chateau Frontenac"
Our room was everything I could have wanted, impeccably clean, well furnished with two double beds, a chair and ottoman, desk, bench and TV with plenty of English speaking channels. We had a corner room with view out to the river; we had only paid for city views so I was very excited. Our bedspreads were toile and we had featherbeds under them. I loved our cushy robes and Alex managed to commandeer one for himself even though he looked like Yoda with it on.
Our bathroom was not large but it was marble and had plenty of towels and a nice selection of amenities. While Al and Alex hit the pool and exercise equipment, I took a few minutes to catch my breath. While I was there, turn down service arrived with three bottles of water and some cookies. It was a pleasant surprise.
You can have a delightful shopping experience without ever leaving the Chateau. Not only are there several shops right off the lobby but if you go to the terrace level there is a whole mini mall of very upscale and expensive shops.
We didn’t eat at the Frontenac restaurants, but we did order room service. Since there was no table in our room, we did wonder how we would eat it when it arrived. We needn’t have worried; it came on a rolling table with goblets of water, fresh flowers, and delicious food. Again, I was impressed.
The main draw of the Frontenac besides its superb service is its location. You walk right out the terrace level and you are on the Terrace Dufferin. We stay in Quebec every year and all the hotels we have stayed at are beautiful and within an easy walk of the old city but this was the best location ever. It made it possible for us to enjoy site seeing even in the last two hours of our last morning. I would love to stay here again but not until the American dollar gains back a little of it’s lost value. The price of our room went up $30 in 3 weeks because of the devaluing of the US dollar. The rate I got however, was a rate I called the Fairmont 800 number and asked about. It was not advertized and it was $100 cheaper than the rate I was originally quoted.
Parking is either valet or self park, same price. Be warned this garage is under construction and if you are driving an SUV or a minivan, you will never make the corners.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 25, 2003
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
1 RUE DES CARRIERES
Quebec City, Quebec G1R4P5
The décor is best described as funky and the help is always young here. The patrons however is a mixed bag, plenty of young people but next to us, a large family group is celebrating. You can choose to eat outdoors if the weather permits and that is half the fun of Rue Cartier, people watching.
We decided that the best buy was the Table Haute de Soir. It offered salad or soup and an entrée. Al ordered the Pizza Pancetta and I ordered the Vegeterienne Hyper C. The cost of the two courses is $10.95 Canadian. Alex had a plain cheese pizza.
The soup was vegetable so we chose salad. With salad, there are two choices, mesclun or caesar. The salads are fresh and plentiful. We both had mesclun.
The pizza here gives thin crust a whole new meaning; it is almost cracker thin. Al’s pancetta had tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, basil and pancetta. My vegetarian had grilled eggplant, grilled artichoke, marinated red onion, tomato and mozzarella. They are delicious. The crispy crust is a delight in that it doesn’t detract from the fresh ingredients of the topping.
There is full bar service and plenty of dessert choices. Alex however wanted ice cream and since they don’t serve any, we were forced to try to find some elsewhere. If you are not in the mood for pizza, they offer a full selection of pastas to satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores. They offer some unique combinations like chicken and goat cheese, or grilled chicken with spinach and artichokes (Poulet Popeye).
This is a fun place to eat. Service is always excellent and even the diamond shape menu is fun.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 25, 2003
1145 Rue Cartier
Quebec City, Quebec
Restaurant | "Buffet d'Orleans"
After you cross the bridge go straight up the hill, as you reach the light you will see the restaurant, go through the light, it is on your left. There is a Casse Crout also; The Casse Crout is the Quebec version of a drive up hamburger joint. You can get french fries, burgers, hot-dogs, ice cream. They are located in almost every town along the main roads and along the back roads. They are as common as the roadside shrines.
The Buffet is a sit down restaurant. It is a white building with red roof and trim,it has the distinctive architecture of the province. You will notice the house colors in Quebec are much brighter than in the states. I’m guessing that you want to stand out against the crippling snows of winter.
The menu here includes such Quebecois favorites as pate chinoise (Chinese pie), which we call shepherd’s pie in the States, tourtiere maison (house meat pie) ground pork and spices in a crust (some versions also have pieces of potato);soupe au pois (pea soup) the thick and chunky yellow pea version; frites et sauce (fries and gravy). Having already decided to throw caution to the wind, I had pea soup and fries with gravy for my lunch. Sometimes I just crave these familiar comfort foods and I wasn’t disappointed the pea soup was exactly as expected yellow and chunky and redolent with the spice that my mother calls savory, but which is somehow not the same savory that is used in the States. The fries were divine, handcut and fried just right with salty beef based gravy, I was in heaven, and this is coming home for me. Alex being less enthused by unknown food had grilled cheese and fries and they were just what a nine-year-old would want. Al, decided to be good (somedays I just hate this guy) and had a boiled dinner, beef, vegetables, and potatoes, (which of course he didn’t eat).
Desserts are what really shines here. I had the gateau renverse, the upside down cake. Oh, did I forget to mention it was raspberry? Oh my, served with cream it was fabulous, warm, homemade, and decedent. Alex had ice cream, which was just that, ice cream. They make their own pies here and they run the gamut from raspberry, blueberry, and apple and of course the local specialty, sugar pie.
Service was fast and efficient. They don’t speak much English, but the menu is bi-lingual.
1025 Rue Prevost RR1
Quebec City, Quebec
You can feast on Tortiere or Lac St. Jean Meat Pie, eat pork and beans as only a Canadian makes them, or if you are Alex and Al you can find something that resembles the food back home to satisfy your hunger.
We stopped here on a Sunday afternoon at about 2:00pm and were able to order from their fixed luncheon menu. For 14.75,
you get to have a biere (blonde or brun) or wine, I chose the blonde which was a Bolduc, soup which was cream of mushroom, (for a supplement you can have onion) a selection of entrees which included meat pies, salmon or the beef (for an additional $4) dessert and coffee. If you want to eat game, the Lac St. Jean Meat Pie has elk in it. There are also entrees which include bison, caribou and pheasant.
You will have the impression that you have stopped at a friend’s home for dinner. The atmosphere is warm and homey. There are displays of pretty glass and crockery in every nook and cranny and two fireplaces in the dining room where we ate. The tables have blue plaid tablecloths and the servers are dressed in traditional costume. Alex was the only child in the restaurant, so he got extra special treatment.
Our waitress Julie
served the rolls from a large basket; you pick it she puts it on your bread plate. My mushroom soup was thick and creamy with chunks of mushrooms. The meat pie was served with red cabbage, boiled potatoes, peapods and delicious sweet compote. In case you have never had meatpie it is ground pork cooked with spices and served in a rich lard pastry. Al and Alex both had the beef, which was roasted with gravy and served with au gratin potatoes and pea pods.
For dessert without a supplement you can choose tarte au sirop d’erable or upside down pudding with maple syrup sauce. I had the sugar pie which though not as good as my mother’s was enough to send me on a sugar high. Al had the fudge pie with raspberry coulis
and Alex had vanilla ice cream with his raspberry sauce on the side. After one taste, it was no longer on the side. We finished with coffee and serious smiles on our face.
Located just around the corner from the Chateau Frontenac, this really is a dining experience without being too touristy.
Aux Anciens Canadiens
34 Rue Saint Louis
Quebec City, Quebec G1R 4P3
Attraction | "Terrasse Dufferin/Promenade des Gouverneurs"
Monday morning the sun was shining. It made all of us feeling like getting some exercise. We walked out of the Chateau Frontenac and onto the Terrasse Dufferin. Unless you have been to Quebec, it will be hard to explain how hard the wind blows down the St Lawrence Valley, but to say it is brisk even at the best of times is an understatement. This particular morning it was strong enough to make my hair stand straight out in front of me. Check out the photo. We decided to walk the Promenade des Gouverneurs. This connects the Dufferin Terrace to Battlefield Park along the steep cliff behind the Citadel. It involves 310 stairs and ¾ of a mile. It has gorgeous views of the St Lawrence and all the way out to the Isle d’Orleans. We were not quite sure how well my knee would hold up to the walk, but what the heck. It held up just fine thanks to the new slimmer me. I did my Rocky imitation as I danced up the first few sets of stairs. Alex, of course, being a nine-year-old show-off, ran up the stairs with grandpa close behind.
When you get to Battlefield Park you can choose to walk out into the park, stop at the pavillion for a rest, get a snack at the snack trailer or just turn around and walk back. We did the later.
This is an excellent choice if you’re up for 620 stairs and 1.5 miles. As we reached the end of the Dufferin Terrace, we took the Funicular down to the Rue Petit Champlain so that Alex could see the Lower City on foot. We came back up the Casse-Cou (break-neck) stairs and then the Charles-Baillairge Stairway. I didn’t count but my guess would be a couple hundred to get back to Place d’Armes. I have to admit that those last stairs pretty much did me in. I called it a day, after all we still had a seven hour drive to complete to get home. If you prefer to just enjoy the Terrace Dufferin you can stroll over to one of the binoculars for close up views of the river and the lower city. There are vendors along the way to get a coffee, or a hot chocolate or in the warmer weather an ice cream. The entrance to the funicular is tucked into the eastern corner of the Terrace. In the winter the Terrace becomes a bobsled run and anytime of year you can find entertainers of every sort performing. We have seen magicians, jugglers, singers, comics and actors and actresses. The Terrace is one place no one should miss when visiting Quebec City.
Place Terrasse Dufferin
Quebec, Quebec G1R 4P5
No phone available
There is an audio program that runs for 15 minutes and alternates between English and French. When we arrived, the French narrative had just begun so it gave us the time to walk around in the opposite direction of the rest of the audience. (I listen to the French narration with half an ear).
What you get are the sounds of everyday life in Jerusalem at the time of Christ. You hear sheep baaing, bells clanging, people bartering and hooves clashing on the stones. There is also music appropriate to the time, reminiscent of the music in The Ten Commandments.
Everything is very much in 3-D without the glasses. As you look at the walls surrounding the city, you feel as if you were on a hill looking into the city. You follow a lighted ball as it travels 360 degrees around the inside of the building. There is plenty of drama and it was enough to keep Alex interested. He actually founded it fascinating, which is quite amazing, when you think about how easily kids get bored these days.
You can stay as long as you like and listen to the narrative more than once. For $2 extra, you can rent opera glasses and I recommend that you do. There is an amazing amount of detail that is not visible to the naked eye. There are people looking out the windows of Herod’s Palace, the streets are teeming with people going about their daily lives. You can observe a caravan as it makes its way toward the city.
The ending panel is the Crucifixion in all its gory detail. It is one of the few places where there are actually figures other than those painted on the canvas.
Cost of admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children. The Cyclorama is located in the southwest corner of the parking lot for the Basilica. It doesn’t have a gift shop of its own but there are several nearby.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 25, 2003
8 Rue Regina
Quebec City, Quebec
Attraction | "Battlefield Park Interpretation Center"
The Interpretation Center details the history of the battle for Quebec and the history of Battlefield Park itself. Originally part of the holdings of Abraham Martin (thus the name plains of Abraham) another of my ancestors; this area has been a vital part of Quebec’s history. A mural by Aline Martineau details the many phases that the park has gone through. It was the site of the death by hanging of Marie Joseph Corriveau who is rumored to have murdered her second husband, her body was then exposed in a cage for 40 days. Between 1763 and 1810 120 others suffered the same fate.
This is not as slick a multimedia show as the Quebec Odyssey. Part of the time you are standing and listening to the narrative. We moved from display to display and we had to be careful to make sure that the other adults with us let Alex have a view of the visual part. There are two areas where you actually sit through the presentation. The complete audio tape takes 45 minutes.
To get to the Interpretation center you enter the Musee de Quebec, which is in one corner of Battlefield Park. The Baillairge Pavillion which houses the Interpretation Center is the former Plains Jail. The Musee de Quebec has free entrance for the regular galleries; special exhibits are $10. Even if you just visit the galleries take one of the museum pins; it will get you a discount at the Interpretation Center. Entrance was $2.50 for adults, free for children with the pin, $3.50 without.
When you finish the audio tour, take the time to look through the displays. There is a lot of additional information. This is a very interesting tour and Alex in particular gained a lot of knowledge about the history of Quebec. This is probably not interesting for very small children since there is quite a lot of reading also involved.
Parking is available along the road with parking meters or there is a parking lot with attendant on the east end of the building.
Battlefields National Park
835 Wilfrid-laurier Ave (near Honoré-mercier)
Quebec, Quebec G1R 2L3
+1 418 648 4071
Getting your portrait done Nothing compares to a charcoal drawing of your child or grandchild. Believe it or not, Alex was able to sit still for almost the entire 45 minutes. By the end, he was squirming because he needed to use the bathroom. Marc Audet is a talented artist and he really captured Alex. He was the only artist working on portraits on this particular weekend; there was a man next to him doing caricatures, which were very popular with the teen set. The cost of $35 Canadian is a pittance for the one of a kind results. If you want color, the cost is $75. During the summer months, you will have the choice of up to a dozen artists on the St, Anne Street which runs along the east side of the Place d’Armes.
Room Service Alex is still raving about the excellent club sandwich we shared at the Chateau Frontenac. As the oldest of four brothers, Alex has never had room service before in his life. He was very impressed with everything about it. Actually he has been bragging to everyone who will listen about the beautiful hotel he got to stay in. Needless to say, Grandma and Grandpa are the heroes in this scenario.
Gelato What Alex really wanted was ice cream, but we couldn’t find any on Cartier Ave. I didn’t tell him it was gelato, though after one or two bites he told me it was weird ice cream (hey, I figure mint chocolate chip is weird either way). This was about the only edgy thing that Alex ate all weekend. This is an all American boy who wanted pizza and fries, we obliged.
The Funiculiar Initially Alex was a little reluctant to get on the funiculiar. Of course, the fact that Al told him it had a glass bottom didn’t help (it doesn’t have one anyway). After the cable car, he was much braver and I think really enjoyed his ride.
Cannons What is it about little boys and guns? It was love at first sight. He climbed up and sat on and walk around every cannon we came upon. Battlefield Parc and Montmerancy Parc are both well endowed with plenty of heavy artillery.