Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 22 May, 2010
Quebec city is simply wonderful. It's the most normal (read: European) place we have so far visited in Canada, intensely Francophone, a little bit provincial maybe; Quebec City has a human scale and feel (in addition to a very Catholic colour - it feels like…Read More
Quebec city is simply wonderful. It's the most normal (read: European) place we have so far visited in Canada, intensely Francophone, a little bit provincial maybe; Quebec City has a human scale and feel (in addition to a very Catholic colour - it feels like a city Cardinal Richelieu could have built). Even outside the historic, walled centre (it's the only walled city in North America and on UNESCO's World Heritage list), the buildings are not those flat, vast, low boxes placed about 5 miles from each other that you need at least a motorbike to travel between, but a somehow more approachable, walkable and altogether better than what we saw in Toronto or Montreal/Laval. People are incredibly friendly and seem happily content without being manically positive, and the place seems civilised but not altogether boring.Oh, and it's situated in the fantastic point over the St Lawrence river, just where the wide estuary narrows into a more manageable waterway - there is even a ferry that takes people and cars to the other side and allows for even better views of the historic Old Town (Vieux Quebec). What more can one want?But of course it's the Old Quebec that makes Quebec such an enchanting place, and such a popular tourist destination. It’s a pleasure to just stroll around the streets and alleys of the old town, so unexpectedly attractive in the New World. There are also elegant baroque churches, seminaries and municipal buildings, pretty squares and an almost complete set of walls, whose battlements dotted with cannons can be walked for spending views of the city, port and river. The most famous building in Quebec, or perhaps the most recognised, is the much newer Chateau Frontenac hotel, with its mock-baronial, turreted and pinnacled architecture. Barely 120 years old (and in fact, the massive and rather monstrous central tower was added in the 20’s), this is apparently the most photographed building in Canada, and certainly in Quebec City. It’s rather over the top, but with its superb situation and striking silhouette, no wonder really.The Chateau sits above the lower city (Basse Ville) and the river, and nearby set of stairs as well as a funicular connect the area immediately adjacent to the hotel to the attractive set of buildings, shops and restaurants immediately below, centred on restored Place Royale, and with a lively Rue du Petit-Champlain particularly good for arts, crafts, food and drink.The lower town also has the Museum of Civilisation and the terminal for the commuter ferry to Levis, a workaday community on the other bank of St Lawrence, eminently worth a trip for the views (as well as a nice microbrewery pub the Corsair). Close
Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 15 Apr, 2010
We leave Les Escoumins (where we had the most enjoyable three days including wonderfully sunny Easter weekend graced with sightings of belugas and fin back whales) on a rainy Easter Monday, by a crowded bus. Our lovely host Mannu sees us off at the…Read More
We leave Les Escoumins (where we had the most enjoyable three days including wonderfully sunny Easter weekend graced with sightings of belugas and fin back whales) on a rainy Easter Monday, by a crowded bus. Our lovely host Mannu sees us off at the bust station and persuades the bus driver to let us off at the turn for the Saint Simeon ferry rather than at the normal stops a couple of kilometres up the road. The bus is packed with people going back to Quebec and Montreal after Easter at home. In Tadoussac it gets so busy that some people need to stand. As the bus crosses he Saguenay fjord on the small car ferry, the grey skies start to clear and some blue appears in the south and over the mountains. The driver does as she was asked to and lets us off at the traffic lights in Saint Simeon, on top of the hill from which we can see the ferry terminal and the ferry nearing the moorings. We have about half an hour to the departure and after a ten minute walk downhill we are just in time to see the ferry dock and to walk on with the other foot passengers. The crossing takes just over and hour, across calm St Lawrence and affords for lovely views of both shores. As we near the south shore and the Riviere-du-Loup terminal, the sun breaks again at one point through the clouds over the Charelvoix mountains and the rays come streaming down, illuminating some hills and leaving the rest in an eerie, sharp shadow. The ferry itself is a surprisingly substantial and comfortable vessel, with a large salon, small playroom for children, bar and restaurant as well as free wifi Internet. The terminal at Riviere-du-Loup is, however, not only deserted, but also located at least couple of miles out of town's centre and, considering the annoying Canadian habit of placing bus and train stations on the periphery, probably at least three miles from the Via Rail station.We get thrown out of the ferry terminal building by a guy that locks it up for the day, but he also gives us the taxi number, and one arrives in five minutes to takes us to the train station, or rather to a burger joint cum patisserie (here is Quebec for you!) about five minutes walk from it. We spend the next four hours in that diner, stretching our burgers, chips, coffee and cakes as much as we can. By the time the diner closes at 10pm, there is still an hour and half to wait until the railway station opens at 11.30pm (our train leaves at six minutes past midnight). It stays open until 3am, six days a week. There are only two trains that come through Riviere-du-Loup: the one we are taking to Halifax (three times a week it has coaches to Gaspe) and the one that goes back from Halifax to Montreal.We walk to the station as slowly as we can, but it's still only 10.20 when we arrive. The small waiting room is lit up but locked, and there is absolutely nothing outside: not a roof, not a shelter, not a seat, not even a step to sit on. We place our rucksacks on the ground under the small roof in front of the door and with the children nodding off on the rucksacks we stand around waiting for the guy who runs the station to turn up. Two other people do come, arriving to collect people from the Ocean train we are taking, but 11.30pm passes and the guy is still not there. He turns up at 11.20 without a word of apology and then spends another 15 minutes doubting the validity of our reservation. I show him the confirmation email on my phone, he complains about small letters impossible to read, I then suggests he phones and when he does things get sorted and our tickets get printed, our rucksacks checked in and in ten minutes the train arrives.It's big train -proper, solid and powerful looking thing that looks made for long journeys and crossing snow-bound forests. As much as the station experience was an example of once-thriving industry being in what seemed like terminal decline, once we are on the train it all seems completely reversed. We climb aboard a warm, spacious carriage, led by a smiling, friendly and polite steward, who points us to two sets of two seats and promptly brings pillows and blankets. The seats are huge - honestly, they are wide, have piles of leg room and recline (or rather pull out), there are clever spaces for carry-on luggage and foot rests and similar.So, we are travelling, again. Close
Written by tvordj on 12 Nov, 2009
Friday was another nice day. Cold but not raining. We were waiting for a friend of Graham's to arrive after noon. She was driving over from Quebec City as well! We had some time to kill in the morning so we walked into Old Montreal,…Read More
Friday was another nice day. Cold but not raining. We were waiting for a friend of Graham's to arrive after noon. She was driving over from Quebec City as well! We had some time to kill in the morning so we walked into Old Montreal, admiring some of the lovely old buildings along the way to a small museum just across from City Hall called Chateau Ramezay. It was an old chateau that has been used for many things over the years and is now a little museum that shows artifacts from the history of the city of Montreal. It's not a large museum and you can see it all in an hour or so. We enjoyed looking at all the things they had on display and probably could have spent more time but needed to get back to the hotel. It turned out Karine was a bit later getting downtown because of the traffic but she arrived eventually. We consulted the concierge who pointed us in a direction of a very nice restaurant on Rue St. Paul. We found it but discovered that there were two afternoons a week where it was only open for lunch and closing at 2. Today was one of them and it was about 2:15 by then! Aggh! We did find a pub almost right across the street and up one floor called Pub St. Paul which, in retrospect, was more what we wanted anyway. Pub food, beer, and the ability to sit there all afternoon if we wanted because nobody was waiting for the table. It was a very enjoyable few hours, too! About 6 o'clock we all wandered back to the hotel and broke into the bottle of wine, having asked room service to bring up a corkscrew for us! Another couple of hours cheerfully chatting until Karine finally had to leave. She promised not to drive and caught a cab to her father's house. That's a new friend made this year for me (she was an internet buddy of Graham's)! Always a good year if you've made a new friend. I honestly can't remember now if we ordered room service that night or didn't eat at all. I am pretty sure we didn't go out to eat, though.Saturday is our last day in Montreal. We checked out of the hotel late morning and my cousin Brian came to pick us up just after noon. We went to his end of the city and met up with his wife and baby (along with his 3 year old that had come with him to get us) and went to lunch at an old neighbourhood pub called, i think, the Old Oak or Orchard on Avenue de Monkland in the Monkland Village part of Montreal. It's really quite nice there and they have a lovely home in a quiet neighbourhood. We spent the afternoon at their house, chatting and catching up. Brian later took us to the airport where we checked in and waited for our flight home. Another trip under our collective belts! Until next time!.... Close
Thursday and Friday were spent mainly hanging out with friends. Thursday, a couple i knew were driving over from Quebec City. We had our breakfast and returned to the room to wait. They had hoped to get there by noon but were a bit later…Read More
Thursday and Friday were spent mainly hanging out with friends. Thursday, a couple i knew were driving over from Quebec City. We had our breakfast and returned to the room to wait. They had hoped to get there by noon but were a bit later than that.We were to meet them at Steve's music shop on Rue San Antoine which is just across from the hotel and up a block east. Steve's is probably the epitome of music shops if you're looking for an instrument in Montreal. They have pretty much everything and it's all spread through several little shops all connected along the street. Some are connected inside but some you have to go out into the street and go in the next doorway. We met our friends there and then we headed out to drive up around the McGill university area and then parked up and went to Dunn's Famous deli on Metcalfe Street. Way better than Schwartz's apparently. I've been to Schwartz's and remember that it was very good but according to my friend, they are rude there and it's always very crowded and thronged with tourists. That's certainly true enough. We went to Dunn's which has been around since 1927 and we did have a really good meal there. The staff was indeed very nice and the Montreal Smoked Meat was excellent!We all went up to Chapters on St. Catherine's and browsed there and along the famous shopping street. We finally got a chance to do a bit of souvenir shopping, too. My friends still had to drive back and wanted to get back on the road so we headed back to the hotel for coffees and a last visit before they had to leave. On their recommendation, we thought we'd go back to St. Cath. to have our evening meal later on at Nickel's which is a 1950s style restaurant. We got the bus but seemed to get off at the wrong stop so found ourselves walking further than we expected. We found it eventually, though. It's bright inside and is another franchise style restaurant with a varied menu. I liked the food but it wasn't rave-able i think. You do get good portions and the prices are reasonable. After we ate, we walked along looking at some of the stores with the Christmas lights on. The Bay was flooded in red and very nice and a cathedral was lit up with stars in the trees outside it. Although we aren't all that far from the hotel, we ended up taking the bus back anyway. Overall, though, we never felt unsafe walking at night in the downtown area of Montreal. Close
Wednesday seemed like it would be sunny overall so we thought this would be the day to take a bus tour of the city to see a bit more. We booked through Grayline via the concierge at the hotel. They offer hotel pickup but the…Read More
Wednesday seemed like it would be sunny overall so we thought this would be the day to take a bus tour of the city to see a bit more. We booked through Grayline via the concierge at the hotel. They offer hotel pickup but the pickup shuttle was very late. I think the traffic was bad and there was certainly a lot of construction snarling things up. Anyway we got to the tourist info centre and paid for the tour and on the bus. Away we went. Passing the lovely Marie du Monde Cathedral, we headed for Notre Dame where we had a half hour to go into the cathedral to explore and take pictures. What an absolutely beautiful cathedral! One of my favourites for sure. I think it's the blue and gold glow that makes it so special! The bus drove along the top end of Old Montreal, and we heard about the founding of the city in the 1600s by the missionaries. The Monastery beside Notre Dame is the oldest building in Old Montreal. There's also a church beside the Marche Bonsecours called Notre Dame de Bonsecours which is dedicated to sailors. We drove past and along the river where there are warehouses and container piers and a big bridge crossing the river. We headed east to Olympic Stadium with it's 45 degree tower looming above it. That was just a photo stop but you can go there and tour the facility and go up the tower. Next to it is the Biodome, housed in what was the velodrome. These facilities were built for the 1976 Olympics and the Olympic Village dormitories are nearby, looking like stacked pizza boxes! Also in this large park is an insectarium and a botanic garden. The biodome would probably be very interesting to visit but we didn't have time today and didn't get there at all this week. (In summer, Grayline also does hop on hop off tours but we are now in off season so could only get the full guided tour). From here we traveled a long way down Sherbrooke Street East and then West through the Plateau area with lovely side streets of houses with winding iron outside staircases, so typical of Montreal but of which i didn't get the chance to photograph. There are two universities in the city as well, some of which we traversed. Blvd. St. Laurent and Rue. St. Denis are the big streets for restaurants and cafes and there's good shopping along here as well. Over by McGill university on the side of the hill of Mont. Royale, we started climbing up the narrow streets to the St. Joseph Oratory for another photo stop. This was built by a fellow that worked in the nearby college as a shrine to St. Joseph and is maintained by donations from people who crawl up to the oratory via the long stairs in front, stopping to pray for a miracle on every step. You think the miracle might be that they make it up to the top! Apparently it's enormous inside and very beautiful. The bus then made it's way to a lookoff spot where you can see for miles over the city. the Olympic Stadium is immediately evident as is the Jacques Cartier bridge over the river. Windy and chilly but excellent views!Back into the bus and down the hill we go. We finally arrive back at the info center for the end of the tour. Very good and very informative. We headed down towards St. CAtherine street again, taking note of all the beautiful buildings. Montreal has a lot of great architecture, both new and old. The older buildings all seem to have lovely little details on the corners or around the doors and windows. Saw the building for the English Newspaper, the Montreal Gazette and it's really lovely! We got back to the hotel and again needed a bit of a rest but our evening meal was planned. We walked down into Old Montreal, stopping to take photos of Notre Dame lit up at night with the blue lights at the windows. We headed for The Keg which is a national franchise restaurant specializing in steaks. They were really busy tonight but luckily we did get seated fairly quickly. We also got our starters in a good time but our main courses were delayed quite a bit because of two very large groups ahead of us. No matter, we sat and chatted and enjoyed the excellent beer. When it came, the meal was fantastic! It isn't cheap at the Keg but it's a great place for a special night out!We wandered back through the quiet streets, looking at the buildings that were lit up and looking in shop windows. Close
Tuesday morning was overcast and a bit rainy so we thought it would be the best time to visit the Beaux Arts museum on Sherbrooke street West. We went for the included breakfast first, in the hotel lobby restaurant and filled up on omelets and…Read More
Tuesday morning was overcast and a bit rainy so we thought it would be the best time to visit the Beaux Arts museum on Sherbrooke street West. We went for the included breakfast first, in the hotel lobby restaurant and filled up on omelets and headed out. We went and found the metro station in the Palais du Congres across the street and bought 6 transit tickets each for the week. They do have a "smart" type card now that you can buy and load up with prepaid transport but we didn't know how much we would be using it so the tickets were better for us. Turned out the best thing as we ended up not using 2 of the 6 each. We took the metro to the Peel stop. The metro is pretty easy to navigate. There's only a few lines and a few transfer points. From the Peel station we walked through some of the underground network to Sherbrooke Street. Meandered down Sherbrooke towards where the museum is. It's a busy street and there are quite a few banks along this stretch so we took advantage of the bank machine to top up our funds. The museum itself is free for the permanent collections and we didn't fancy the temporary ones. We decided to start at the top floor with the European paintings and work our way down, with a stop at the cafeteria (which is behind the bistro) for a coffee. We enjoyed the paintings and sculpture, and really enjoyed the Napoleon exhibit (see the review for the museum in this journal). There was another building worth of exhibits that we didn't go to see this time, trying to save our feet a bit as we would be doing some more walking from there. The shop, too, was really good and there were some Christmas things in as well. I took the chance and bought a lovely glass geisha ornament and hope it will get home in one piece. The sun is trying to come out so we walked down to St. Catherine Street and went for a break in Starbucks. I fired up my ipod Touch to check emails and we discovered that the concert we were going to next week has been canceled! Oh dear! Graham was also trying to get in touch with one of his mates who was supposed to be meeting up with us on Friday. No luck but we may use the business centre at the hotel to do some surfing that's a bit easier to navigate than a little touch screen. We browsed our way down one of the best shopping streets i've been on, into shops and malls. I lost my camera last week and needed to replace it. We found a store in the shopping centre next to the Eaton Centre and found the perfect replacement on sale! Bonus! We eventually walked all the way back to the hotel. Montreal in the centre is fairly compact. Things aren't really as far away as they seem but can feel like it if you have sore feet! Which we did. We have tickets for the hockey game at the Bell centre tonight and i decided to save my feet and order room service for our meal before the game. It was actually very good, and reasonably priced for hotel room service. We got a taxi to the Bell Centre and found our way to our seats. It's Graham's first ever hockey game but as he doesn't really enjoy sports, i don't think he's probably going to really appreciate it. He's only going because i want to go! Even though i haven't followed hockey for years, i still reserve a spot for "my" team, the Montreal Canadiens and it was pretty exciting to hear the National Anthem sung in French like we always saw on telly and see the game and the players in the familiar colours play. Unfortuantely, they lost. But it was an experience i'm so glad i didn't miss! The team (also called Les Habitants or The Habs) played in the old Montreal Forum when i used to watch. The Bell Centre is fairly new but it didn't matter to me. After, we got a little turned around but the centre is on the same street as our hotel and after being pointed in the right direction, we ended up walking (trudging) all the way back rather than try to find the metro for just two stops. It turned into about a 20 minute hike but it wasn't too cold. Close
I've spent very little time in the great city of Montreal in the past so wanted to get to know it a bit better. We booked a week at the Embassy Suites by Hilton which is on the doorstep of Old Montreal and were all…Read More
I've spent very little time in the great city of Montreal in the past so wanted to get to know it a bit better. We booked a week at the Embassy Suites by Hilton which is on the doorstep of Old Montreal and were all set. Flew in on Aeroplan points and took a taxi to the hotel downtown and were ready to go. First order of business was to head out and down into the old historic part of the city. We walked around the corner of the hotel and up Rue. St. Urbain into Place d'Armes by the Notre Dame Basilica. We headed east past the old Bank of Montreal and the next thing i know, i'm flat on my face on the sidewalk!!!! My poor partner nearly had a fit, and helped me up. I test the bones and joints. No twisted ankles, no sharp pains. There's a bit of blood but upon inspection, that's from grazed knuckles. The camera i had in my had is unharmed and my face didn't hit the ground (I think i bounced off my padded tummy!) Ok, then, no crisis. Onward we walked.I knew i'd be sore the next day (and i was) but walking would be good. We were looking for a place to have lunch so that really was the first order of business. We peeked at quite a few menus but most of the ones we saw were for fancier restaurants and bistros and we were only looking for a cafe or something low key. Along the way we walked along the main "spine" through the old area, Rue St. Paul which is lined with shops and restaurants. It leads to the larger Marche Bonsecours (Market) and we went in there thinking there might be some cafes. There were, but they were a bit too posh for us as well. There are some nice boutiques in there, though, so we may get back for a browse, who knows?Across the road from that, we saw a likely cafe finally, called Serafim. It advertised all organic food including a burger on it's menu so that seemed to be what we wanted. The waiter/owner was quite nice, really friendly and we ordered. My partner had the burger which, unfortunately, turned out to be dry as paper and about as tasteless. My spinach pie was nice, though. There are no fries here, you would have to have salads with your meal. It filled the hunger gap, that's about all. A bit disappointing but if you are looking for organic (and it had lots of vegetarian fare) then you probably would find this quite good. Just avoid the burger. We walked back through the narrow cobbled streets, poking into a few of the shops. We walked along the waterfront where the "Old Port" is. the Old Port doesn't look very old, though. It's all been renovated and it has cruise ship docks, a big park, the Imax, a science centre and some industrial areas. The docks are built out so far that you can't really even see the river from the road! There are horse and buggies for hire as well and the drivers are cheeky trying to drum up business. The street has older warehouse style buildings on it and had we gone far enough, i think there was a heritage museum as well. We walked back up by Place Jacques Cartier, the main square of the old city which is also lined with restaurants and has a little cobbled street featuring artists who paint out on the side of the road and sell their artwork. Rue des Artistes, oddly enough ;) This square is usually heaving with tourists in season but was pretty empty in early November. City Hall and the old and new Palais de Justices were at the top of the inclined square. Getting tired and sore now, so we went back to the hotel for a bit of a rest. Where to go for our evening meal? We looked through the guide books and realized we are only a block or so from a small Chinatown so that sounded about right. Later on we walked across and around the corner from the convention centre across from the hotel and up into Chinatown. One small pedestrianized street is lined with restaurants and crowded little Chinese shops. We almost went into one place but it was a bit crowded so we walked on towards Rue. St. Laurent where there were more Chinese, Viet and Thai restaurants and we chose one that seemed to look popular. It was cozy and warm and the food was plentiful and absolutely delicious and not very expensive at all! We couldn't eat it all and took leftovers back. Nice thing about a suite hotel with a kitchen is you can do this! We walked up along the road a bit further to have a look at the Chinese arch. We also noticed a bunch of red spotlights outside a building. Turns out that's a common sign for a club in Montreal.To end the first long day, i soaked my aching body in a jacuzzi bath. My knuckles and fingers on the one hand were bruised and sore and my back and leg muscles were feeling that fall. Close
Written by Vanilla Sugar on 03 Nov, 2008
MontréalI always felt like I missed an opportunity to visit Montréal with my good friends Kim and Myra. They had made the trip to Montréal for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games and I didn’t join them. When they returned to Pittsburgh, I enviously listened…Read More
MontréalI always felt like I missed an opportunity to visit Montréal with my good friends Kim and Myra. They had made the trip to Montréal for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games and I didn’t join them. When they returned to Pittsburgh, I enviously listened to their stories about meeting handsome Olympic athletes and descriptions of Olympic Park. Now, more than 30-years later, I could see Montréal’s Olympic Park. On the horizon jutted the impressive Olympic Stadium with its large inclined tower – the largest in the world. At last, I made it to Montréal!Unlike me, Montréal stirred no special emotion or excitement in Ed. He had lived in the city from 1975 to 1978. He felt content to stay with the coach in Longueuil while the experts at Trans Arctik rebuilt the Espar Heaters. Not content to stay with the coach, I hired a cab. I pointed to a picture in Montréal’s Official Tourist Guide for my French speaking* driver to understand my destination. He navigated the morning rush hour traffic taking me to Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal.The Guide describes the Basilica as "a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture with a magnificent interior of sculpted wood, paint and gold leaf." When I entered the Basilica, I reverently walked its perimeter noticing these features but stopping to linger at each statue behind rows of votive candles in clear or red glass sleeves. I could feel the candles’ warmth on my face and I wondered about the prayerful petitions each flame carried to heaven. Could it be a wish for safe return of a soldier, a prayer for recovery from illness, maybe a petition for money, or a wish for a baby sister as I had often prayed for as a child in the Cathedral of my own Catholic parish?I sat in the front pew of the Basilica for a long time admiring the sculptures of the altar. After taking a guided tour I learned significance of the four sculptures surrounding the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice. In one sculpture, Moses leaves a jar of manna in the Ark of the Covenant; a second, Melchisedech holds out bread and wine. In a third sculpture, Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son Isaac. The last one shows Mary being crowned by her Son. Photos cannot do justice to this magnificent sculptured altar. You must visit and savor each part as I did.I had planned to attend a Rotary Club meeting at noon, but then I decided to stay at the Basilica for the 12:15PM French Mass in the Chapel. As a child, I had attended weekly Latin Mass and then the English Mass after the Vatican II ruling permitted deviation from the Latin tradition. To hear the Mass in French was like attending a melodic symphony of words, an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. I further explored Old Montréal by walking past the courthouse known as Hôtel de Ville, along the sidewalk cafés and Jacques Cartier Pier. Later, I ventured to Chinatown.In Chinatown, I wandered the narrow streets peeking into shops selling traditional paper lanterns and Buddha figurines. I dared to buy an ornate tin of Jasmine tea in the herds and natural medicine shop shunning the other strange roots and mushrooms overflowing in barrels. And, I marveled at the red and golden arches granting entrance to the district. When I aimed to photograph one, an ancient Chinese woman sternly tugged my elbow to the vantage point that according to her "all the tourists like." I didn’t resist. I moved to where she led me and changed the angle of my camera to take the shot.So at last, I had become the tourist in Montréal. And, though it was just one day, I savored each moment and wondered why I waited so long to visit.*Montréal is the second largest French speaking city in the world after Paris. Close
Written by zabelle on 31 Dec, 2007
Calling this a museum is a little bit misleading. What you do is go to the convent of the Augustines and you are then taken on a tour of the oldest parts of the building. The Augustines were the nuns who ran the Hotel Dieu,…Read More
Calling this a museum is a little bit misleading. What you do is go to the convent of the Augustines and you are then taken on a tour of the oldest parts of the building. The Augustines were the nuns who ran the Hotel Dieu, the hospital. Parts of the building date back to the XVII century. We rang the door bell and were buzzed in. We didn’t know exactly where to go but we questioned one of the Sisters. She told us to go to the large room at the end of the hall and wait for our tour guide. We waited about 10 minutes. Our guide was a young man who spoke very broken English. He also gave a lot less information in English, now for me it made no difference, I followed close behind the French speaking members of the tour and listened to what he told them, when he left things out I could fill our group in. I am not sure if he is the only guide but he was less than inspiring. In spite of him I am going to recommend visiting here because it is such a historic building. You need to be able to climb stairs to visit here as we not only went upstairs but went down into the basement. On the first floor there are maps, paintings and cases of small items relating to these nursing sisters. There is a portrait of the founding sister and also an etching that shows the first three sisters arriving from France.One the second floor there is a very interesting museum of medical instruments. Some of them look more like instruments of torture than instruments of comfort and help. There are also items that would have been used in a hospital. There are apothecary jars since the sisters were not only nurses but were druggists as well.We got to stick our head into what would have been the sister’s kitchen and there is a nice collection of copper pots hung on the wall. The stairway that we went up is original and very beautiful.The most interesting part of the tour was our trip to the basement. Here there are some very old pieces of furniture but what fascinated Brandon was the pile of canon balls. These are from the bombardment that Quebec took from the English during the war in 1759. Our last stop was the chapel. We were the area of the chapel were the nuns would have sat to watch the Mass. It is not really in the chapel but looks into the chapel.There is no charge to visit here but in the basement there is a box for donations. The tour ended with us being dumped into the hospital and we basically just walked out the door where visitors would enter to visit. A little strange but very much worth visiting.75 Rue des Remparts Close
Written by zabelle on 30 Dec, 2007
When it comes to things that you can visit free of charge Quebec City has them in abundance. One that we had never done before was to tour the Parliament Building. Check with them to see what time the tours are offered depending on which…Read More
When it comes to things that you can visit free of charge Quebec City has them in abundance. One that we had never done before was to tour the Parliament Building. Check with them to see what time the tours are offered depending on which language you prefer. You need to enter the building through door Number 3; it is on the side of the building facing the old city. Our tour in English began at 10:30am. Arrive at least ten minutes in advance of the time you plan to tour. You need to go through security, this is very much like boarding a plane, you need to empty your pockets and send your purse and wallet through the ex-ray machine. After you are checked one member of your party needs to provide ID. You then proceed to the room where a short video is offered. There are two separate rooms one for French speakers and one for English speakers. I leave it to your imagination to decide which the larger room was.Our group was quite large; there may have been 40 people. Our tour guide came to meet us in room 181 and escorted us into the main lobby where you proceeded to point out all the things we should be noticing. You need to be able to walk up stairs; we went up to the second and then the third floor. You spend a good part of the tour walking and standing. The staircase is grand as you would expect from a very important building. There is a magnificent canopy of stained glass from the workshop of Gauthier and brothers who are Quebec artists.
The National Assembly Chamber is where history is made in the province of Quebec. The walls are decorated with a theme that echoes the façade of the building with fleurs-de-lis, maples leaves and roses. The walls are a beautiful blue, what I found interesting is that green is the traditional color but blue is better for TV so blue it is. What I found really amazing was that above the seat at the head of the room is a crucifix.
Religion is not kept out of public buildings in Quebec. The members of the majority and minority face each other across the room in the British style. We also visited the legislative Council Chamber. It is done all in red, the color of the British monarchy. In this room 8 governor generals were sworn into office between 1886 and 1935. It is identical in size to the National Assembly Chamber and the decoration is inspired by the motto ‘je me souviens". I will remember.After your tour take the time to walk through the exhibit entitled Le Quebec, ses deputes, ses region. Being of French Canadian ancestry I enjoyed looking at the photos of people of note and the different regions of the Province of Quebec. I know the region where my mother is from quite well but I have ancestors from Gaspe and other regions that I have never seen. I enjoyed seeing the people who share family names with me as well. Eugene Etienne Tache is the architect who designed the National Assembly Building. It was completed in 1886 and is in the second empire style. The building is decorated with 22 bronze statues of persons who have had an impact on the history of Quebec.
There are also two sculptures of Native Americans on the grounds. The building has three levels on the façade that represent the three periods of Quebec History, the French, the English and the Federation.