After we arrived in Quebec City, we headed to Fabourg Saint Jean Baptiste neighborhood, where you can feel the 19th century bohemian style mixed with 21st century multi-cultural atmosphere. We stayed at a B&B called Au Croissant de lune located in a house that is over one hundred years old. Almost all the buildings in this neighborhood were built in the 19th century. They are small and hugging each other along the narrow streets. You really feel like you’re in Europe and at night you might also feel like you just stepped back in time. We found our B&B in a maze of identical looking buildings and our host let us in to the tiny hallway. With our luggage there with us, we could barley bend over to take our shoes off. We grabbed our suitcases and followed our host to the little, old vintage staircase where we had to maneuver skillfully to not bump our stuff against the walls. Our room was in the attic, and was furnished with antiques, which added even more charm to the whole scenery. From the window we had an amazing view looking over the steep roofs of other century old houses. I felt like I was in a classic French movie.
Our B&B was 5-10 minutes away from the walls of Old Quebec City, so we were within walking distance of all tourist attractions. First night in Quebec City we decided to spoil ourselves and have dinner in one of those fancy, French style restaurants. And here, on the menu, we spot foie gras. Neither of us had tried this French delicacy before and we decided that this night will be the night. Well, neither of us found it appealing. Actually, we could barely swallow it or stand smell. After that I read how foie gras is made and what I found was an example of pure cruelty. They feed poor ducks until their stomachs explode, and those blown stomachs are pretty much the foie gras. Bonne Appetite! Besides the disturbing appetizer, our meal was a delicious treat. After the fancy dinner and a bottle of wine, we went for a moony walk to see the illuminated Chateau Frontenac.
Next morning, as if we weren’t in enough awe for our B&B, we walked downstairs to a smell of fresh brewed coffee and baked goods. There was a big window letting sunlight in, illuminating white walls which were an ideal background for a colorful African style paintings. At the center was nicely set antique table. Patricia, our host, welcomed us and disappeared in the kitchen. She came back with parfait yogurt with granola and fruits and she said that today for breakfast she is serving Belgian Waffles. Her kids hung around and were showing us their drawings while we ate. Everything was fresh and delicious. The only downside of this breakfast was the fact that I had no room left for those yummy smelling baked goods.
We didn’t have too much time in Quebec City and the weather was nice, so we skipped the museums and focused on walking around to get a feeling of the city. First we walked up the hill through the St. Jean Baptiste neighborhood towards the Plains of Abraham. In 1759, during the Seven Year War, this place was a battlefield between the French and British Armies. Today, this beautiful area along the cliffs of the St Laurence river has been converted into a park (2,4 kilometers long and 0,8 kilometers wide). Annually around 4 million people visit it for sport, relaxation and local events. It was a nice morning walk. We could feel a cold breeze coming from the river. We started from the east side of the park and were heading towards Old Quebec and Chateau Frontenac which was looming on the horizon. On our way through the old battlefields we took a quick guided tour around the Citadel and learn a little bit of history of the French and British quarrels.
Old Quebec is divided into Upper and Lower parts. The most common sentence you hear or read here is: this is the oldest church/cobbled street/square in North America north of Mexico. We spent the whole day walking around, checking locals shops and little art galleries.
Next day was the last day of our trip and we were planning to get back to Montreal that evening. We spent the morning exploring St. Jean Baptiste street, which was just two blocks away from our B&B. It is a very vivid and multi-cultural avenue. We checked out St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, which was converted into a library in the late 1970s. We browsed around a little cemetery on the church property. There were some very old grave, from times when some of the first European settlers came to this area. We stopped by the chocolate museum, where we had a super rich cup of hot chocolate.
Near to Quebec City there are the 84 meters high Montmorency Waterfalls. 30 meters higher than Niagara falls, they are the highest waterfalls in the province of Quebec. We started our hike from the top of the cliff. We crossed a suspended footbridge built over a place, where Montmorency River plummets of the cliff to the St. Lawrence River. There, you can watch rushing water beneath your feet and see a beautiful panorama of the St. Lawrence River, d’Orleans Island and Quebec City. We followed the trail and we found ourselves at the top of 487 steps leading down to the base of the waterfall. It was pretty crowded there., but most of the people only made it to the halfway point on the staircase, some went down 2/3 of it. When we went all the way down it was just two of us, the thundering sound of the waterfall and a lot of mist. We left the falls damp but happy with way we spent the afternoon.
On our way back to Montreal, we had to go through the heart of Quebec City and then we were stuck in a huge traffic jam. I would not be exaggerating if I say that in one hour we moved 10 meters. At that moment I was so thankful that we are living in Yellowknife, where rush hour happens twice a day and lasts for 5 to 10 minutes. We zipped back to Montreal, down the Trans Canada highway. I will write a bit about Montreal in a post to come.