On our way to Quebec City we stopped off at Trois-Rivieres. Our main memory of this town is The Monastere des Ursulines. Keep an eye out for the signs and pause to examine these impressive buildings. There are several little old houses en route to the public park and the Monastery - these too are worth a look. Having passed the Monastery, we veered off and walked along the riverside. Well worth the effort.
Then it’s back on the road to Quebec. Quebec City, overlooking the St Lawrence River, was the furthest east of our journey. This city is an absolute must to visit, and we loved every step of our stay. This almost entirely French-speaking city feels truly cosmopolitan, whilst retaining its very strong French identity.
I’ll start where we started - a visit to Parc de la Chute and the Montmorency Falls. This lies to the East of Quebec City and boasts falls higher than that at Niagara, but there is a substantial less flow of water. We loved these falls and the trails around them are both interesting and enticing. Views pop out of nowhere and everywhere you are treated to the sounds and a fresh view of the falls. Cross over on the bridge and you can virtually touch the water. Look down and the odd matchstick (tree trunk) or two is evident. Continue the trail and you arrive at the scene of another battle between French and English Troops. There is the evidence of the original defenses, and tourist information details the historical importance of the site. Crossing back over the river – we didn’t fancy the long walk down to the base of the falls – you get a great view of the Manor Housecliff. The Manoir Montmorency was built in 1871 as a private residence, but used later as a hospital, a monastery, and a hotel. It’s had some well-known visitors, including the Duke of Kent, the Queen of England's father, from 1791 to 1794, and, of course, myself! Pop in and mention my name – I’m sure they’ll make you very welcome.
Quebec City needs exploring on foot. We started by climbing the steps onto the Plains of Abraham. I suspect this was somewhat easier than Wolfe had found it in 1759, although I could still imagine the surprise that General Montcalm must have felt when the British appeared. They learned from the French mistake and constructed the Citadel, an enormous star-shaped fortress, to prevent attack from the same direction. Quebec City was, however, prepared for my invasion – the citadel was closed to visitors when we arrived. I’m told that it is well worth the visit and was a bit disappointed that we were unable to get inside (I would have liked to have seen Vimy Cross if only to link with my visits to France and, in particular, Vimy Ridge – I will write about that sometime).
Not to be discouraged, we headed for town. Wow!! First impressions say I’ve landed in France. Every turn we make confirms that it is a real delight to explore the narrow streets and gaze at the architecture.
The Basilica was worth a glance, and the Chateau Frontenac … well this is a major architectural site that needs to be seen from all angles in daylight and at night. The buzz around the Chateau at night is unbelievable. There were local entertainers, locals just chilling out, and of course bucket loads of tourists with cameras and videos. You see, the view of and from the Chateau is worth crowding for. Some lazy soles use the funicular, but we walked – both ways. It’s not strenuous and you miss some terrific views if you ride.
I suggest that you don’t leave Quebec City without visiting their Parliament. Guided tours are arranged and it was an incredibly informative visit. There is no restriction on photography and the parties are small enough for individuals to pause and take in some of the grandeur of the building. We sat in the galleries of the upper house and, after the information, were allowed to wander its length.
If you walk at night, from the upper town near to the Chateau and down to Rue de petit Champlain, you will be treated to a view of the oldest and narrowest part of the town. It is littered with shops and restaurants, filled with pedestrians, and full of interesting boutiques. People loiter outside of restaurants checking out the menus. Restaurants generally offer good value for the money and staff who offer polite and welcoming service.
Walk further on, along the side of the main road, and you'll see a wide variety of original properties, which were originally bordering on the water's edge.
We "did" the history of Quebec exhibition, to be found near to the Basilica, and thoroughly enjoyed a very straightforward 3-D presentation of the history of Quebec City.
Appreciated the city, respected the people, loved the food, and treasured the memories.
We’ll be back!!