A WALKING TOUR OF OLD QUEBEC CITY

We arrived in the outskirts of Quebec City under gray skies.  We immediately came accross a wonderful surprise…a magnificent waterfall,  just before entering the city. 

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Technically, this is in the town of Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River from QC.  The Parc des Chutes-de-la-Chaudière is a nature haven formed as the Chaudière River drops 115 ft over ancient sedimentary rock. 

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The mist from the falls makes its own ecosystem and is the home for some interesting rosette lichen. 

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There are hiking/biking trails, a large suspension bridge and a hydropower plant.

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We continued on and explored downtown Lévis.  This gave us a great view of QC and Hotel Frontenac through the mist—a teaser of what we’d see tomorrow.

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The next day, we had blue skies as we crossed the Pierre-Laporte Bridge to a bus stop on the Quebec side.

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Again we are able to use public transportation to tour a jammed city.

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We started our tour at the St. John Gate. 

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Champlain founded Quebec 350 years ago as a trading post.  Its location soon made it a prime military fortress, resulting in the walled city of Old Quebec.  It has several sections: Upper Town, Lower Town, the Citidelle, the Latin Quarter.  This made touring a bit easier to plan. 

We started out on the river walk along the St. Lawrence, complete with scores of cannons.  This was our first close look at Hotel Frontenac.

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And we had a great view of Lévis from the QC side.

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Quebec City has energy in the air.  Hotel Frontenac was setting up for a major sponsored bicycle race. This is one of the most photographed sites in Canada.

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We had a sidewalk café lunch across the square at Auberge du Tresor. 

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And we found an artists’ alley, Rue du Tresor, beside the restaurant.  You could talk to the artists about their original art.

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Street scenes help capture the local color….

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The Rue du Petite Champlain, in Lower Old Town Old Quebec, is the oldest—and narrowest—commercial district in North America. (It’s probably one of the most charming, too.)

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Wall Art known as Fresco of the Rue du Petit-Champlain is drawn on a house at 102 Rue du Petit-Champlain and represents the history of the district, the bombardments of 1759, the fires and landslides. 

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Quebec is a city filled with all manner of art…

As we continued through the city, we found this Log Driver Sculpture, L’Homme-Rivière at the Édifice Price.  This detailed work was literally in an alley. 

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This bronze and stone sculpture, Le monument aux Frères éducateurs, was by Jules Lasalle.

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The Helping Hand, Book and Quill Pen sculpture on Rue Donnacona is a monument to the Ursaline Sisters Children’s School. 

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The flower gardens beside the ornate Canadian Institute were naturally beautiful.

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And this led us to some beautiful old churches.

St Andrews Church was build in 1759.

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The Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Quebec is the oldest church (1647) in the New World north of Mexico.

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At the top of the city, the Citadelle stands guard.

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Beside the fort is the Governors’ Walkway–Promenade des Gouverneurs—310 steps climbing Cap Diamant from Dufferin Terrace, to a long walk overlooking the river.  The path is beside the exterior wall of the fort.

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The Promenade led us to the Plains of Abraham. 

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This was the site of the 1759 Battle of Quebec, a deciding point in the French and Indian War.  The British won control of Quebec, allowing them to take control of Canada.  Downtown Quebec is in the background.

The Citadelle, sitting beside the Plains, overlooks Old Quebec in this view.

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Heading back into town, we passed the Saint-Louis Sally Fort.

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To catch our bus, we made our way back to the Old Town gate at Artillery Park.

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Next we’ll travel to a stop at Riviere du Loup.  We had heard it was a beautiful area.  Boy, were we surprised.  Nothing prepared us for what we found! 

 

VISITING OLD MONTREAL

As I mentioned before, we had been warned it’s VERY important to time your travel into Montreal.  Although we have driven our “big rig” through many east coast traffic jams, we took their advice…as much as possible.  Even though the 300 mile trip was interstate-all-the-way, we still planned on 6 hours.  That meant we would be dodging rush hours on both ends.  We tried to split the difference and arrive in Montreal around 4 PM.  In retrospect, I would brave Toronto earlier in the AM for more open roads at the other end in Montreal.

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 Why?  Montreal traffic really is horrific.  To get to our south Montreal KOA destination, we crossed multiple bridges –many with overpasses several hundred feet high.  Montreal sits much like Chartleston, SC.  The city has several rivers meandering through it’s boundaries creating a city on multiple islands.  Some are large, some small.  But this makes a spaghetti maze of roads and bridges. The traffic volume is bad but the roads are scary.  One problem was most were under construction—Oh yea! All at the same time.  And boy! Did they need it.  I was driving that leg so I don’t have pictures of the crumbling edges of overpass roads—truly loose concrete hunks and no secure road edge.  Because of our destination, we were in the left lane and it sure got my attention!  ‘Nuff said.  Don’t let this deter you, but be prepared.  Luckily, once you get settled, there’s great metro all over!

We stopped at the KOA campground that had shuttle service to town.  (Turns our we found it easier to drive our dinghy car to the nearest metro to get downtown)  At the RV campground, we found a big red sleeper bus.  

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We had seen one in Utah several months ago.  It’s an amazing vehicle, very popular with economy-minded Europeans.  The front part is typical bus seating for about 20.  The back is pullman sleeping with a pull curtain to the outside–it looks like it could be really cold.  They hit the campground around 6 PM.  Getting up at 6 AM, travelers cook their own breakfast, drive in to tour the local city, come back to the campground around 6 PM and cook their own dinner, then head off to their next stop the next morning at 7 AM.  Not an easy way to travel…. 

As I mentioned, we took the metro in to the city.  The hub was next to Canada’s Biosphere—built for Expo 67.  This is now a venue dedicated to environmental issues.

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Taking the metro was easy!  And it brought us right to the center of the action withoiut any more traffic nightmares.  

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Montreal, bills itself as the Paris of North America.  It’s a bi-lingual city…the main street, Sainte-Laurent Boulevard, divides the east, where French is spoken, from the west, where English predominates.  It is beautiful.  Using our maps, we walkled most of Old Montreal in two days.

Just up the hill from our metro stop we stumbled on the extraordinarily ornate Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, where Céline Dione was married in 1994.  This  is the oldest (300 yrs) stone chapel in city.

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Old Montreal has beautiful street scenes.   Some are modern and packed with color.

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We had lunch at one of the many outdoor cafes in the area.

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All this is side-by-side with historic Montreal…  Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum with it’s 300 year old Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours offers the highest view of the city and the Old Port.

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Hotel Ville de Montreal, in the Plaza Jacques-Cartier, is where the visiting President of France, Charles de Gaulle, announced “Vive le Quebec libre!” (Long live free Quebec) in 1967

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Vauquelin Square, with the staue of Jean-Paul Vauquelin, was the site of the olf jail where prisoners were placed on display

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We also loved the mix of color at the Rue Sainte-Helene historic area with its 22 gas street lamps. 

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The lighting was specially designed to emphasize the intricate architectural details of the buildings.  This area is often included in movies shot in the area.   

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Self-touring gave us a chance to wander.  Here we came across a Rose-Aimée Bélanger’s bronze sculpture of three women.  This was  in an open courtyard along Rue Saint-Paul.

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 Our last day we made a beeline to try a famous Montreal smoked meat sandwich before more exploring.  

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We decided to by-pass the highly touted Schwarts’s.  The food is great but the service is said to be the basis of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi.  We asked some locals and settled on Reubens.  This was a REALLY big corned beef on rye.  Delish! And as a bonus our two sandwiches were dinner too.  (In Montreal we also should have tried their unique baked bagels.  We missed that one.  Let us know if you get a chance to sample them.)

Next we headed to the St Lawrence River area.  

Here is the Montreal skyline from the waterfront at Bonsecours Basin, at the Old Port of Montreal—

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The Basin also includes the Bonsecours Market.

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And an oddly shaped apartment building sits close by.

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The Sailor’s Memorial Clock Tower, a replica of London’s Big Ben, is at Victoria Pier in Old Montreal.  It marks the entrance to the old port of Montreal and is dedicated men of the Canadian Merchant Fleet who died in WWI.

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Behind the tower is the Jacques Cartier Bridge, connecting Montreal to Montreal Island.

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Montreal has a large, vibrant China Town.

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The paifang is on Saint Laurent Boulevard.

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We also found some great wall art.

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There were beautiful churches everywhere, like this Anglican Church downtown.

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And the spectacular CathedralBasilica of Mary, Queen of the World, inspired by St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

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No trip to Montral would be complete without visiting McGill University.  Founded in 1821, this is Montreal’s oldest university and has a top international academic reputation.

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The Roddick Memorial Gates stand at the site of the original gatehouse to Burnside, the country estate of James McGill, the university’s founder.  The Arts Building is framed by the gates, crowning the main drive on to the campus.

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The Illuminated Crowd sculpture shows a mass of people illumated by a “light” from an idea/ideal.  The light casts shadows and disorder appears at the back as the light diminishes.  The sculpture was showing the fragile nature of man—and his emotions through space.

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From here, we head to Old Quebec–now our limited French will really be challenged!