A weekend in the Paris of the North

Spend a romantic weekend walking through the most European city in North America.


A weekend in the Paris of the North

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by zabelle on September 23, 2000

If you can't get to Paris this year or prefer not to fly then Quebec will give you an Old World experience without having to leave North America. You can be in Quebec City from New York City in about 8 1/2 or 9 hours. Pick one of the many first class hotels or a small auberge in the old city as your base, put on your walking shoes and hit the pavement.

Walk through the old city and spent some time shopping for Native American art, maple candy or wonderful local pastel drawings on the Rue de Tresor. There are many artist who catch the flavor of Quebec on paper or canvas or if you would rather have your picture drawn this is also the place to do it. You will have a hard time choosing among the many artist who line the streets even at 10 o'clock at night.

Quebec has been designated a historic heritage site by UNESCO and deservedly so. Visit the Musee de la Civilization and Battlefield Park for history. It will help you to understand why the French Canadians cling so fiercely to their heritage and their language. See the only fortified city in North America. Make sure you walk through one of the remaining gates in the wall. Walk the 2.5 mile wall or take a caleche ride. Eat on Grand Allee or the Rue de Champlain, people watch and enjoy great food. Walk along Dufferin Terrace and have coffee at the Chateau Frontenac, be entertained by the musicians and magicians who abound and just relax as you watch the ships travel up the St Lawrence.

The Rue St Jean has great shopping, local fashion, tourist traps, great candle shops, even a medievel costume shop.

Take the funicular from the upper to lower city. It gives a unique perspective of the relation between the upper and lower city and the house where it ends in the lower city is historic in itself (it is the Louis Joliet House, he of Marquette and Joliet fame).

Visit Notre Dame de la Victoire in the lower city and the antique stores along the Rue St Paul. Take your time and absorb Quebec's unique blend of old and new world charm. And please learn a few words of French, it will gain you a smile and a lot more English from the Quebecoise.${QuickSuggestions} Leave your car and travel on foot. Its very manageable. Take the funiculier to get from upper to lower city or walk down one of the staircases ( like the breakneck stairs where several restaurants have set up shop). This is a very hilly city and you need to negotiate some steep streets. My legs have screamed for mercy more than once.

Keep in mind that Quebec is quite a bit cooler than the US. Even in July you may need to have a sweater or light jacket, it is often very windy. Bring layers of clothing so you can add or subtract as needed.

Also, with the exchange rate for the American dollar at over $1.40 Canadian it is an even bigger bargin to travel to Quebec than ever before. Where else can you get so much for so little. ${BestWay} Take the ferry to Levis for a unique view of the city. You need your car if you want to visit the Ile de Orleans and Montmorency Falls and St Anne de Beaupre. But otherwise walk, walk walk.

One note about traveling with your car, you MUST put money in the parking meters in Quebec. The tickets are very expensive and even if the meter rates seem like highway robbery (which they are) and even if you have to come back to your car every 2 hours , make sure that you do because the traffic police are out in force and unfortunately they look for tourists to ticket. It cost us $25 for being 2 minutes late. The traffic police was still there when we got to the car but he was immoveable. Luckily I have a Canadian cousin who could write a check for me to pay the fine.


Hotel Manoir Victoria

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on September 23, 2000

Be prepared to fall in love with this hotel. The rooms have a charm and presence that is so often lacking in larger chain establishments. The bathroom was large and well appointed with great water pressure and plenty of fluffy towels .The staff was very helpful and friendly, and the indoor pool was a luxury not often found in Quebec at this price.

Breakfast was included and was a very good buffet (eggs, bacon, french toast, oatmeal, cold cereal, homefries, etc).

The lobby has dark wood paneling and thick carpet. Very clubby, with an old and rich feeling. What you get here is the charm a certain something that no chain hotel can duplicate , no matter how many stars.

The St. James is their casual restaurant and offers a pick your own pasta special: you pick the sauce, the pasta and the extras. It''s lots of fun and you can make an endless variety of different meals. My son especially likes their fondue appetizer which is a brick of soft hot cheese.

We purchased a package deal which included two nights lodging, two breakfasts and a dinner in the formal restaurant. It was a very good deal. Parking here is valet, there isn''t any other choice. You just pull up along side the hotel and send someone in to get the valet person.

The front door of the hotel is on the Rue du Palais, when you go our through the St James Restaurant you are on the Rue St Jean, right in the middle of all the action. This hotel has everything including location, location, location!

Hotel Manoir Victoria
44 Cote du Palais
Quebec, QC, Canada, G1R 4H8
(418) 692-1030

Au Petit Coin Breton

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on June 27, 2001

The specialty of this wonderful restaurant is the crepe in all it's magnificent incarnations. The waitresses are dressed in traditional Breton costumes which adds a special touch to the atmosphere. Dining is on 2 floors, with smoking being in the upstairs balcony area.

When we arrived, the restaurant was full but there was no waiting. By the time we left the line spilled into the street but no one was complaining and we never felt rushed.


We could watch the young cook as she made our crepes as well as those of the others patrons. The cooking bar as right inside the restaurant. For my main course I had a crepe with asparagus in a sauce bechamel. Al had wild boar which had chunks of meat covered in gravy on an open crepe. Mine came wrapped in the more traditional style. Both were delicious. It was however the dessert that was the winner. We had fresh strawberries and creme fraise. Not only was it beautiful to look at, check out the picture, but it was sinfully good.

I would return here in a heartbeat and, as a matter of fact, I can't wait. Check out the cute picture of Catherine our waitress. There is a second location on the Rue Laurier and it has outdoor cafe as well as indoor dining. At either location you are guaranteed to have an experience you will remember fondly.

Petit Coin Breton (Au)
1029 St-Jean St
Quebec, Quebec, G1R 1R9
+1 418 694 0758

Terrace Dufferin

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on September 24, 2000

This is a wonderful boardwalk which passes by the Chateau Frontenac and along the cliffs, overlooking the St Laurence River. The view is magnificent, and in the summer you can look through the binoculars and watch the boats coming up the river. Of course you can do this in all seasons but it is quite exposed to the elements so it would be best enjoyed in the warm weather.

This is a great people watching spot. You will be entertained by the street artist who will mime, sing, play instruments and basically do just about anything to earn a little cash. There is an information booth here, and the horse-drawn carriages are located right off the Terrace on the Place d'Armes.

For a bit more excitement you might want to come during the winter when there is a tobaggan run set up here. The Winter Carnival offers Quebec in a whole different light.

The Terrace was built from a design by the then Governor General of Canada the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. He layed the first corner stone in 1878. We should be very grateful to him not only for the Terrace but for the fact that he saved the walls that surround the city making it the only surviving fortified city in North America.

Dufferin Terrace
Place Terrasse Dufferin
Quebec, Quebec, G1R 4P5
No phone available

Quebec Experience

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by zabelle on June 28, 2001

There is a lot going on here from the minute you sit down. There is a real waterfall that appears on the stage. You can smell the water and almost feel the mist. There are 3D visual effects that are startling and fascinating at the same time. This is a good place to get an easy and enjoyable history lesson about the early days of Quebec City and also the building of the Quebec bridge. It is dark and sometimes loud so I would not suggest it for small children. After the show you are allowed to ask questions about how the effects are produced and they gave a very through and interesting explaination.

Seating is on benches that are not very comfortable and would be terrible for someone with a bad back. There have no backs to lean on.

This is a very popular attraction and we went to see it at 9pm at night. Still we had to wait in a long line with lots of teenagers who were loud and obnoxious some of the time. The show itself is facinating but the seating needs to be worked on for real enjoyment by adults.

Quebec Experience
8 du Trésor St
Quebec City, Quebec, G1R 4L9
(418) 694-4000

Caleche Tour

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on June 28, 2001

From the minute you step up into the caleche, you feel as if you have entered a world of long ago. There is something incredibly romantic and exciting about rolling along the streets and listening to the stories that your driver has to tell. Philippe, our driver, was a student and was doing this to get himself through school. He had quite a few interesting anecdotes to share with us about both the French and the English. I have been here many times, and still I was able to sit back and enjoy the stories he told both about the conflict and the eventual coming-together of the very different cultures that make up Quebec today. It is a very enjoyable ride, and you will be amazed at how regal you feel as you trot past the cars and trucks going about their everyday business.

The tour begins at the Place D'Armes near the Chateau Frontenac. It travels along the ramparts to the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Town Hall. You come back around and go through the Saint Louis Gate and into Battlefield Park. The tour ended for us right back inside the gate (it was the last tour of the night). Normally, it would end back at the Place D'Armes. You can arrange to be dropped off at your hotel if your driver is willing.

Caleche Tour
Place D'Armes
Quebec City, Quebec

Musee de l'Amerique francaise

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by zabelle on April 10, 2002

This is a wonderful cultural and religious history museum of the French presence in North America and also the oldest museum in Canada. The museum uses a building that is part of the Seminary of Quebec, which was founded by Laval in 1663 . The former Chapel is a work of art in itself. Be sure to pay special attention to the lovely trompe l’oeil that decorates so beautifully the site where so much of the history of Quebec and the Seminary itself took place. Religion was a cornerstone of the founding of Quebec and that is what makes the Seminary where so many of th e early priests were trained so important. Religion effected almost every aspect of life in those early days and here you can celebrate the joy and the faith that made it possible for these brave pioneers to leave France and come to this cold and dangerous country.

There are several permanent exhibits including displays of scientific instruments, religious art and historic objects that seek to recreate the world of yesterday.

Through the end of September of 2002 there is a temporary exhibit called Heroes of Wax. These Wax figures, many form the former wax museum in Montreal have been acquired by the Musee de la Civilization. The Musee de l'Amerique francaise has been part of the Musee de Civilization for the last 7 years. This is a chance to see again some of the figures that have been stored since the museum closed in 1989. The first part of the exhibit deals with some of the more disturbing aspects of wax museums, it has 2 exhibits one of the catacombs in Rome and one of the Roman Circus. These pieces are the oldest in the collection. These were acquired from the Musee Grevin de Paris in the 1930s . The quality of the facial expressions in these pieces puts them in the realm of true art. The second part of the exhibit deals with the heros of New France, Jacques Cartier, Jeanne Mance and others who made it possible to colonize this formidable country. This is a once in a lifetime chance to see these historic wax figures, so if you have been debating about weather to visit this year or not, let this be the deciding factor not to mention the 40% extra your American dollar will buy you in Canada.

The museum is open daily June 24th-Labor Day 10am-5:30pm Sept.-June Tuesday –Sunday 10-5

Adults $4, children 12 and up $1 or buy a combination ticket for $8.50 and see the Musee de Civilization and the Interpretation Center at Place Royal.

Museum of French America
2 Côte de la Fabrique
Quebec, Quebec, G1R 3V6
+1 418 692 2843

Festival d'ete de Quebec (Summer festival)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on April 11, 2002

For the past 35 years 11 days of every summer have been dedicated to the celebration of the Summer Festival in Quebec. I love driving up Rue Laurier and Grand Allee and seeing all the banners announcing the event and the dates. They look a little different each year but the message is the same, come and enjoy. The Summer Festival is one of the premier music festivals in Canada and Quebec is a city that loves to party, this is just another excuse to do just that.

You will be able to hear a wide variety of performers both world famous and up-and-coming. Every possible musical genre will be represented; blues, rock, jazz or classical. Performances will be at one of dozen or so venues as varied as the Quebec Hilton, Musee de Quebec, Place d’Youville and Grand Theatre de Quebec. This is a showcase for French talent but not exclusively so, it is truly an International event. There will be street performers of every kind imaginable, clowns, jugglers, acrobats, magicians, stiltwalkers and mimes performing all over the old city at all hours of the day and night. There is a badge that you purchase that will get you into almost everything. It will be a non-stop carnival atmosphere.

It promises to be an exciting and very entertaining 11 days, but as you would expect it is very popular and very crowded. You can expect to pay more for hotels than usual and you must book early.

For 2002 the dates are July 4-July 14 . The artists have not been all lined up yet but if last year is any indication is will be fabulous.

Quebec City Summer Festival
1087 St-Jean St
Quebec, Quebec, G1R 1S3
+1 418 523 4540

Ste Anne de Beaupre Shrine

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on April 11, 2002

Saint Anne de Beaupre is probably the most famous shrine in North America; certainly it is the most famous in Canada. It began as a simple sailor’s chapel dedicated to Ste Anne and has grown into a magnificent basilica that is visited by the faithful from around the world. I have to admit that I have always had a fascination with Ste Anne even before I realized that I am related to 3 recipients of miracles at the shrine. Actually the first miracle was given to Louis Guimont and the best translation calls it a terrible pain in his back. He was totally cured as he placed 3 stones into the foundation of the chapel as it was being built. This was in 1658, unfortunately his cure didn’t stop him from being killed by the Iroquois in 1661.

The Present Basilica is the 5th church to be built here. It is a magnificent sight as you drive up along the river and I was even more impressed when I viewed it from a distance from the Ile de Orleans. It dwarfs everything else in the neighborhood. The twin spires frame a statue of Ste Anne that was salvaged from the previous church, which was lost to fire in 1922. What you notice first about the Basilica are all the crutches that are hung on the wall in mute testimony to all the cures that have occurred here. Mass goes on almost unceasing here and there are thousands of candles burning in supplication. I had a hard time finding a spot to place mine.

There is a memorial chapel to the side of the basilica and there are lots of memorial plaques, I dragged my family through the two chapels to read the names of all of our relatives. Up on the hill there is a life size stations of the cross and the truly devote climb the stairs up to them on their knees. Ouch! I skipped that part. The Redemptorists took over care of the Basilica over 100 years ago and there is always someone available to hear confession or just to talk. They are in a small building close to the parking lot.

I guess it goes without saying that they have a fabulous gift shop. It isn’t just the religious items that draws people here (though they have a wide and high quality selection). I come to the gift shop almost yearly to buy genealogy books. The series Nos Ancetres (Our Ancestors) is published in Ste Anne and the latest volume is usually available here in both French and English. Be warned the English version is about twice as expensive. I have all 30 volumes in French.

Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica
10018 Royale Ave
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec, G0A 3C0
+1 418 827 3781

Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on April 14, 2002

The first time I visited the Basilica was for my cousin Alphonse's Ordination. I was 8 years old and was very impressed. The years have not dimmed that first impression.

Built on the ashes of perhaps as many as 4 previous churches this magnificent Cathedral/Basilica has risen like a Phoenix each time to become a landmark to the hardy nature of not only the Catholic Church in Quebec but also of the people she serves.

The original chapel dedicated to Our Lady was built close to this spot, if not exactly on it in 1633. Seven years later it was lost to a totally devestating fire. The church records were reconstructed from memory so there are some missing, especially tragic are the marriage records which usually tell the parents name and place of origin. These now are lost forever.

In 1650 the rebuilding was completed and this church would serve Quebec for 109 years (there were many improvements over the years). It was blown to bits in the British Attack, only the walls remained standing. It was decided to rebuild the Church to the plans of 1743 when major repairs had been undertaken. Construction was completed in 1771 using much salvaged stone from the original.

Again the Church served the people for 151 years, gaining the title Basilica iin 1874. In 1922 fire for hopefull the last time reduced the building to a pile of charred rubble. The original walls and foundation was used as well as the original plans and today this is the church we see.

There are guided tours given of the Basilica and if you want to visit the crypt you must be on one. There are over 900 people buried in the crypt among them Frontenac, Vaudreuil and several of the architects of the Basilica through the years.

You will also want to visit the Francois de Laval Center . This museum dedicated to perhaps the most famous cleric ever to come to Canada. You can see his tomb and also learn about his contribution to the colonization of Quebec. He is now in the first stages of canonization.

Within the church of note are the stained glass windows some of which are German and some French. The organs are also quite famous.

The treasury contains the silver chalice given to Msgr. Laval as a gift from Louis XIV. There are also some very old vestments dating to the early 18th century.

If you want a little more spectacle there is an hourly Sound and Light Show called Quebec in the Limelight. It tells the history of Quebec as well as the history of the Basilica. Its worth seeing especially if you have children.

The Basilica is still very much an active Church and Mass is celebrated here daily.

Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica
18 Rue Baude
Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec Bridge

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on April 16, 2002

For me, the Quebec Bridge is Quebec. As we travel up Route 20 (The Trans Canadian Highway) each year I wait with anticipation our first sighting of this Bridge. It is like coming home. I can remember as a child my mother telling me that it was a Wonder of the World, and so it was to her generation who saw it in its amazing new glory. It was and still is the longest steel cantilever bridge in the world. It’s almost as if the highway was purposely built to give this sudden view as you round that last corner.

The St. Lawrence River is 191 feet deep at the point and over 3000 feet wide. The current runs at a very swift 7 miles per hour. This is a mighty river and the building of this bridge was an amazing accomplishment and not without great tragedy. There were 2 collapses during the building and opening was delayed until 1919. The bridge has three lanes of auto traffic, 2 pedestrian lanes and one train. At its tallest point it is 340 feet high. The Canadian Department of Heritage in 1996 declared it a National Historic Site.

Today it is dwarfed by the Pierre Laporte Bridge, which runs along side it, but nothing can compare to the feeling that I get when I see the original Quebec Bridge. If you are driving into Quebec make the effort to cross on it, it’s a wonderful experience, a moment of history.

Quebec Bridge (Pont de Québec)
Quebec City to Lévis
Quebec City, Quebec

Ile d'Orleans

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by zabelle on April 17, 2002

Originally named the Island of Bacchus (because of the profusion of wild grape vines) by Jacques Cartier, the modern-day Ile d’Orleans is still very much a farming area. No major development has been allowed to mar its bucolic beauty.

The Island, which sits just east of Quebec City in the St. Lawrence River, is 34 km long and 7 km wide at it widest point. The Island is divided into 6 parishes, St. Pierre, Ste. Famille, St. Francois, St. Jean, St. Laurent and Ste. Petronille. There is only one bridge to the Island and that is on the north side. As you cross the bridge you get a very nice view of Montmorency Falls.

The Island was settled very early and many of our ancestors had their beginnings here. The Island offered some safety from the constant attacks by the Iroquois and also the land was fertile and much easier to clear than the virgin forests of the inland. Even today 27% of the potatoes grown in the area of Quebec are grown on the Ile d'Orleans and 50% of the strawberries. Most of my ancestors moved on to bigger holdings within 20 or so years but many of the original families are still in the area. There is a genealogy center on the island that documents the 300 families who have their roots here.

The Royal Road circles the Island for 40 miles. It takes you through all the parishes. From Ste Famille you have a wonderful view across the St. Lawrence to Ste Anne de Beaupre. I love to stop and walk through the old cemeteries and also to visit the Churches if they are open. There is a narrated tour that you can pick up at the visitor center in Ste Petronille. The attraction of the Island is its lack of major attractions. You come here to enjoy the rural beauty, the wonderful roadside stands, the historic houses and churches and the lovely statues dedicated to the favorite saint of each parish. There is some very fine dining on the Island, though I have never gone to any of the fancy restaurants. I usually stop at a small restaurant (which also has an outside Casse Croute) called Buffet Orleans.When you come over the bridge you just drive straight up the hill and its on the left. They serve traditional food, (meat pie and shepherd pie(which for some reason is called pate chinoise in Quebec) and also usually about 5 or 6 freshly baked pies. I come for the raspberry, it’s excellent. You can spend the better part of a very relaxed day enjoying the Ile d’Orleans. It is very much like taking a trip back to yesterday.


Funicular

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by zabelle on April 17, 2002

From its base in the Louis Joliette House to its top on the Terrace Dufferin the Quebec Funicular offers a unique view of the St. Lawrence and also the relationship between the upper and lower cities. For $1.50 per person you can take one of the 2 funiculars (cable cars). They were first constructed in 1879 using an original route already there between the two parts of the city. Originally the cars were open air and only ran in the summertime. They were rebuilt in 1907 and the Louis Joliette house was purchased to preserve it and also to give an indoor landing. It was also converted from steam to electricity at that time.

Today, after another rebuilding in 1997, ( due to a fatal accident) the funicular is a wonderful and exciting way to enjoy the panoramic view. It also beats the heck out of climbing down the break neck stairs which are the other option to get down to the lower city from this point.

There is no other funicular of its type in North America. It descends the slope at a 45-degree angle from a height of 195 feet and travels 210 feet. It’s one of those things that you must do, at least once. But be prepared, the lines in the summer can be very long and the cars quite crowded.


Shopping in Quebec

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by zabelle on April 14, 2002

Quebec is a shopping city. I decided that the best way to pass on my years of experience was to just break it up into areas. I did a very basic four. Are there more than this? Of course but these 4 will give you a very good sense of what Quebec has to offer.

Rue Laurier- Rue Laurier is home to major Malls. I went to my first mall ever here when I was about 15. It was an eye opening experience. Rue Laurier is connected to Grande Allee, you just keep going west until you get to Sainte Foy. All the malls are one the north side of the Street and a favorite of mine is Place Laurier. Here you will find a several large anchor stores and hundreds of other smaller ones. Parking is in a covered garage if you’re lucky enough to find a space. We usually go out here in the late afternoon or early evening when the museums close but were not quite ready for dinner. There is a food court so here’s a chance to sample Quebec’s famous French fries with gravy.

Rue St. Jean- If you want to feel more like a Quebecer but still mix in a touristy touch this is a great area to shop. There are some fun shops here. Prices are not as high as on the Rue de Petit Champlain but you can still find some young and fresh French clothing designs, deliciously fragrant candles in scents not found at home and a favorite of ours to browse Excalibar, which can provide that Arthur and Genevere look in no time at all. Mix in some really delicious restaurants and you can find hours of non-stop shopping fun. This is not a pedestrian area and its no secret either so the sidewalks can become almost impassable at times, but stores stay open late here so evening are not necessarily bad.

Rue Petit Champlain-The lower down in town you get the higher the prices go, but don’t let that deter you. There are some really special shops on this street. You can purchase beautiful European lace, handmade leather goods, beautiful glass and pottery, cutting edge clothing and all the cheap, tawdry horribly tempting tee-shirts and key chains you could possibly want. Mix in with that the street artists that congregate in any empty space and you are guaranteed to be entertained. There are several restaurants worth a stop in this street my favorite being the Cachon Dingue (the crazy pig).

Rue St Paul - This is home to the finest antique stores in Quebec. It is a nice area to just browse and see what they have to offer. Don’t expect to find any bargains here but you never know what irresistible treasure you may uncover.


Quebec -River Tours

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by zabelle on April 15, 2002

One of the best ways to see Quebec is from the St Lawrence River. There are two ways you can do this.

1. Quebec –Levis Ferry runs every half hour from the Old Port of Quebec to Levis. It covers the 1km in 10 minutes. Service runs all year. The cost is $8.50 for a car with up to 6 passengers and if you travel without car $2 for adults. This is an inexpensive way to take advantage of the spectacular view.
2. Excursion Cruises- there are several different companies that run tours from the Port of Quebec. You can take a 1 hour narrated tour or such diverse tours as Grosse Ile, Ile de Orleans, Cote de Beaupre, Ile aux Coudres and Whale watching tours. You can go for a lunch cruise, a dinner cruise, a gourmet cruise, a buffet cruise, and there are dancing cruises and holiday cruises. Most of these tours can be reserved ahead of time and in high season it is probably a good idea. The following cruise lines offer tours from Quebec. click here; click here; and click here.
Prices vary greatly so compare the three and decide what will best fit into your plans.

I have taken the ferry several times and though it is not a romantic cruise, the view is the same and the ride is an adventure. If you take your car you can drive back along the river and cross back to Quebec City over the Quebec Bridge.


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