Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Getting a Bit of Europe in Quebec!

Monday, August 13, 2012

OLA: Getting a Bit of Europe in Quebec!

the Montmercy Falls in Borough de Saint anne de Beauprex near Quebec City
There was was a long queue of huge RVs at the border between Maine and Quebec…of Americans spending summer in Canada, like us, and of Canadians returning home from winter in Florida. We were in good company getting into the province! And we did get a little bit of Europe, France to be specific, in  Quebec: Quebec City, Montreal and the smaller towns of Cooticook, Compton, and Sherbrook! But the street signs were all in French (without English counterparts in Quebec City!) I had to review my halting French!

the walls of the Walled City of Quebec
Falling in Love with Quebec City!

Vieux Quebec, Old Quebec, is a World Heritage Site. Much of it has been preserved and restored, including the Walls around the City. It is divided into Upper and Lower Towns. At the Lower Town is the Place Royale, the old plaza around the Chapelle du Notre Dame. The Old Port now serves the ferries that give people a view of the beautiful city from the St. Lawrence River. The old commercial district has been converted into Rue de Petits des Champlains, rows of shops that call out to you with creative things. And at the end is a ‘frescoe’, a mural that looks so real it extends the shops even further!

amazing fresco at the end of the Rue de les Petits Champlains in Quebec City
Chateau Frontenac, quebec City icon
You can either walk the steps to go from Lower to Upper Town but there is a charming ‘funiculaire’ that you can ride on, with a spectacular view! You board at one of the shops on the lower level and exit on the upper level  to the beautiful scene that the Chateau Frontenac, an iconic sight of Quebec City, makes. Bill and I had lunch at Chic Shack where our seats faced the Chateau and the statue of Champlain, the founder of the city. That is also where we had the real poutine, the way Gretchen said it should be, with all the trimmings!

wonderful poutine quebecois
Basilique de Notre Dame in Quebec City
From the Chateau is a short walk to the Basilique du Notre Dame where a pretty wedding was being held. At the little Place (Plaza) in front are merrymakers entertaining crowds of tourists. All along the sidewalks, at the sides of the rows of quaint restaurants, are little places where paintings and drawings by local artists were displayed and sold. We did not go to the Citadel for we knew nothing of Canadian history and were pressed for time. We did not even go to museums. But we took in all that the French ambience offers.

Basilique de la Saint Anne de Beauprex
Instead we went to a suburb of Quebec City, Borough de Saint Anne de Beauprex, a good twenty minutes away. The Basilique de la Saint Anne de Beauprex is at the center of the town, together with a Cyclorama de Jerusalem and a Museum dedicated to St. Anne. The Basilique is enchanting with its marvelously crafted exterior façade and the exquisite ceiling and altar inside. The Cyclorama is a well done attempt to portray the whole of Jerusalem at the time Jesus was being crucified at Golgotha. 

Cyclorama de Jerusalem
And between Quebec City and the suburb is a waterfall higher than Niagara. It was amazing that so close to an urban city center is the beauty of a huge waterfall! I must say…Quebec City is awesome! Bill and I could easily go back one day.  In fact, the DUs may consider it for a future reunion.

Basilique de Notre Dame in Montreal
Making a Scene in Montreal

We did not mean to but we did make a scene in Montreal. Our day of sightseeing began just like before. We went immediately to our first priority, the Notre Dame Basilica in Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal) with the statue of Jacques Cartier, the city’s founder. It was the first basilica that charged for admission. In quiet protest I let Bill get inside and take pictures while I just sat at its the front steps, admiring the line of multi-colored carriages waiting for tourists to parade around town (Canadian $48).

Bill thinking about food at Tim Horton's in Montreal
Then we had a quick lunch at Tim Hortons, Canada’s biggest fast food chain, it’s like Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, and Starbucks combined! The Information Touristique is just nearby and they gave us a plan of attack to take on the city’s best. We went to the rest of the  Vieux’s attractions: Marche se Bonsecours, the Rue des Artistes, the Place le Jacques Cartier, the Vieux Port, and the City Hall. Then Bill got the car from his 2-hour parking slot.

Old Port of Montreal
And as he saw me, waiting for him in front of the City Hall, the car suddenly stopped. Opening the hood and finding no clue, he pushed the car to the side of the street as I steered. Soon the car became a part of many tourists’ photograph of the Hall! It was stuck there for 45 minutes, as we sipped cool iced tea at a nearby café, waiting for the towing service of the Good Sam network. Thus we made a scene until the truck came, mercifully extricating the pimple on the City Hall beauty.

our little Saturn being towed out of the road in front of the Montreal City Hall
our little Saturn at Midas in Montreal
The car, and us, were towed to Laval, Quebec, where a Midas branch was located. Unfortunately, 5PM rolled by and they could not find the problem. We had to look for a motel nearby. Unluckily, they were all in an area that had a power blackout so we could no longer resist our fate…a pricey hotel downtown. We decided to take on a treat, go to a nearby Italian restaurant, and bask in the comforts of the 4-star hotel.  The next morning, we were poorer by almost $1000, but the car was ready!

our hotel in Laval, Quebec
We went back to our campground in Compton to check out our Rv, M’a ‘turn, then drove out to Ottawa where the manager of the Casselman branch of Canadian Tire said we can park for the night so we can visit the city sights the next day. We sorely missed the Biodome, the Olympic Village, the Biosphere, and the Underground City in Montreal but what can we do? A newer car would be a nice treat!

highest suspension walking bridge in the world
But I should also tell you about Bill’s discovery one afternoon he ventured out on his own as I was ensconced in my online scrabble games:  the highest suspended walking bridge in the world (50 m high x 169 m long) in Coaticook, 7 miles away and the little version of Niagara and the Lighted Walkway in the town of Sherbrook just an hour away. The province of Quebec is really spectacular!
Sherbrook's little Niagara and lighted walk