Posts filed under ‘Québec City’

on roadtripping and québec city

The end of the road trip is always hard. I’m writing this post, about the final road trip day of the summer 2012 trip, on the day after my 2014 trip ended. So I’m feeling extra wistful about the peace that the road trip brings. Two years ago, just about to the day, I was heading home after a tour of the Gaspésie that included stops in Québec’s two major cities, Montréal and Québec City. On the final day of our trip (before the boring “get home as fast as possible” part), Christina, Jules, and I enjoyed a day in Québec City.

Québec City is the provincial capital, the heart of the proud québecois people and home to the most European part of all of North America. On the cobblestoned, winding streets in the old city, it’s easy to forget that I’m not actually thousands of miles across the Atlantic, eating croissants in a charming French town.

We started the day with a ferry ride across the St. Lawrence, from Lévis to Old Québec. It’s a nice way to avoid driving into the old city, especially when the bridge is under construction. It’s also a nice view!

We would spend most of the day wandering around the Château Frontenac, the old hotel and most recognizable landmark in the old city.

The old city is split into two parts, Lower Town and Upper Town. The Frontenac is in the Upper Town. It’s a bit of a hike, so we took the funicular up this time.

The hotel and surrounding area is a World Heritage Site!

Once we were in the Upper Town, we stayed there for the rest of the day, walking on picturesque streets, munching on French goodies, and taking a lot of photos.

From the research that Christina had done, we knew that we needed to eat lunch at Paillard. The lunches were exceptional, and the bread was out-of-this-world kinds of amazing. The bread was so good that we went back up to the counter and bought more bread when we were done. We were also so excited to buy a box of macarons, but we were so full of bread that we saved the macarons until later in the afternoon. When we took a break and found a shady spot to enjoy our macarons, we were dismayed to discover that they were pretty much terrible. The lemon one tasted like cleaning products smell, and we tossed it into a shrub. So don’t waste money on the macarons at Paillard, but absolutely buy a lot of bread.

After lunch, we climbed a little higher to walk on the walls. Old Québec was once a fortress, and most of the walls are still standing.

We were there during the Festival d’Été (Summer Festival), which meant that a good portion of the Plains of Abraham were blocked off for a concert. They were blocked off for an LMFAO concert, which meant that hordes of youths were running around the old city in the most ridiculous neon getups you can imagine. The whole thing felt a little wrong, so we vacated the wall and plains area after that and stuck to the old city.

We stopped at the provincial parliament building. The other side of the building was covered with scaffolding and a drapery, as opposed to when I last saw it two years earlier.

Parliament was much quieter, except for a couple of girls who were playing in the fountain, despite being much too old to play in a public fountain.

I decided to purchase this house. I think it’s a historical landmark, but whatevs.

We soon found ourselves back by the Frontenac for more photos and a break on the boardwalk.

An “entertainer” was doing some sort of act involving a bicycle and a Barbie doll. I think something was lost in translation.

After a nice time sitting outside the Frontenac, we decided to head back across the river a little early. We had greatly underestimated the amount of driving that would happen on this road trip, and as a result, we were pretty exhausted by the last day. And nothing sounded better to us than getting across the river before the LMFAO neon kids swarmed onto the boat, and while we still had enough time to go back to the ice cream place. Maybe we were starting to get old, but we were still making fantastic memories.


July 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm Leave a comment

the sun sets on quebec city

After our photo session with the “Grand Rassemblent” sculptures in Sainte-Flavie, we started to head back west.

Our last stop before Québec City was Notre-Dame-du-Portage, a small town on the St. Lawrence with a charming church. Jules and I had stopped here before, in 2010, and since then, we’ve fondly remembered the church as one of the loveliest that we’ve photographed. And we’ve photographed a lot of churches.

Notre-Dame-du-Portage is town of about 1200 people, about a 2-hour drive northeast from Quebec City. It’s just outside of Rivière-du-Loup, a city of about 20,000 people. The church was built in 1859 and is right on the seaway.

Cemetery next to the church, above, and view from the front steps, below.

Our final destination that evening was Lévis, the city across the St. Lawrence from Québec City. We decided to stay there so we could take advantage of cheaper accommodations and a picturesque ferry ride to the old city the next day. After checking into our hotel, we were delighted to find a St-Hubert just up the street, so we got in one more chicken-and-cole-slaw fix for this trip.

Afterwards, we ventured further into Lévis, following a couple of recommendations from a photographer friend of mine. Stéphane had told us about Les Chocolats Favoris, a terrific chocolate and ice cream shop, as well a great spot to watch the sun set, with views of the river and the old city.

The ice cream and sorbets were legendary, as were the views! From the ice cream shop, we walked a few blocks and found a lovely spot with benches facing the river. A few other people joined us, and once we finished our ice cream, I started setting up my tripod. The people were chuckling a little, and they finally told us that they thought I was unfolding a fishing rod and wanted to fish in the river (we were a couple of blocks inland, though it was still a clear view over the ferry building). We all laughed about that and they stayed a while longer. The girls and I were in it for the long haul, though, and my series of photos from that night is a little Monet variations-of-light-on-the-haystacks-esque. I’ll share a few of my favourites!

Photography is a fascinating medium…the two photos above were taken within minutes of each other, but the top photo is a single exposure, and the bottom, is a three-exposure HDR merge.

The Château Frontenac is allegedly the world’s most-photographed hotel!

After the sun sank behind the hills in the distance, the underside of the clouds lit up for a few minutes. Gorgeous!

Yes, I even brought a flash in anticipation of a tripod timer photo!

This is another HDR image. None of the single exposures were this blue, but when I merged the three together, all of this colour erupted!

It’s hard to show off a panorama in blog size, so click here to see it bigger.

By the end of the evening, I was up to 2.5-second exposures. Such a pretty city!

May 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm Leave a comment

Eastern Québec Road Trip

One of the reasons that I love traveling with my best friend so much is that our road trip styles are so compatible. With Jules, I’m not afraid to suggest that we turn around on a highway, just because I saw “something pretty” at the last exit and want to check it out, or that we take a little detour for something marginally interesting that I saw in a guidebook.

The day that we left Québec City, Jules and I had a long drive ahead of us, so we knew that we had to keep our end destination of Crystal’s house in Bathurst, NB, in our mind, but we also knew that a long drive is best broken up by short stops. So here’s a bit of what we found most interesting after we left Québec City.

We got up early to see Montmorency Falls, which were just 10 minutes or so east of where we stayed, on the east side of Québec City. The falls themselves were definitely impressive, and we could have spent longer there, if we’d had more time and money and weren’t so afraid of heights. We opted out of the gondola ride to the top. Instead, we just walked up the stairs as far as we could before we felt like we were going to pass out—maybe only a third of the way up or so!

Montmorency Falls
Impressive waterfall…but we were a little taken aback by the lack of landscaping! All around the Falls and the paths on the park grounds, it was just mud! A little strange, and very messy if you fell off the path. I can’t walk in a straight line, so I fell off the path.

Me at the Falls
We made it this high, snapped photos of each other, then headed back down to get on the road.

Foggy Day in Québec Town
It was a foggy, drizzly day, but on the way back down, I realized how lovely the foggy view of the St. Lawrence was!

La Pocatiere
La Pocatière, which was the town that I requested a detour to. After we passed the exit on the highway, we saw the town and this tower, halfway up a mountain. We kind of needed gas anyway, so I suggested that we turn around at the next exit and go back. Jules was game, and I thought it was worth it for a little stop. This gorgeous building is a school in the centre of town.

Another random stop: Notre-Dame-du-Portage. We stopped in Rivière-du-Loup because we were about to turn south, away from the St. Lawrence and toward New Brunswick. Since this was the part of our trip at the widest part of the seaway, we wanted to see it, so our search for the sea led us to a small town west of Rivière du Loup. Like many small towns in eastern Canada, Notre-Dame-du-Portage boasted a lovely (albeit disproportionately large) church.

A nice riverside walkway at Notre-Dame-du-Portage

The Mighty St. Lawrence
Looking west at the mighty St. Lawrence from Notre-Dame-du-Portage

We stopped again in Cabano before we crossed into New Brunswick, where we went on an epic search for Canada Dry. I think we had to stop in 3 stores, which included walking through the mall, before we finally found Jules’ ginger ale of choice. I didn’t take any photos because it was more of a pit stop than a scenic stop. Cabano appeared to be the destination of choice for Québeckers with boats and campers, a hub for outdoor summer fun. Besides Canada Dry for Jules, we also stopped in the grocery store for lunch. I can’t remember what Jules picked up, but I do know that I was determined to have my favourite French grocery store treat: a fresh baguette and a wheel of cheese. I picked up Vaudreuil camembert, which turned out to be quite tasty, and I was kind of starving, so I managed to eat about 2/3 of it! I was sad to pitch the rest, but didn’t want to risk keeping cheese in the car in a cooler with no ice!

With our snacks and drinks, we got back in the car and continued south. Province #7 was just ahead.

October 19, 2010 at 5:49 am 1 comment

Photo Post: Québec

It’s been a while since my last post; thanks to those of you that are still with me! This semester has been such a busy one, so I’m going to have to make more of an effort to prioritize posting about the rest of my trip. I’ll get there eventually. First step towards finishing: I finally edited my photos from Québec City! Here are my favourites from a blustery evening in the capital of La Belle Province.

Much of Vieux (old) Québec is within fortress walls.

The first step on our sightseeing tour was the Québec Parliament building. We didn’t have time to go in and were probably too late anyway, so we just took some photos of the exterior. Gorgeous building!

The Plains of Abraham, where British and French forces fought for control of Québec in 1759

View of the St. Lawrence from the Governor’s Promenade—it’s so wide here!!

The Terrasse Dufferin, a pedestrian boardwalk area at the Frontenac

The Château Frontenac, the world’s most photographed hotel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The thing in the foreground is the UNESCO symbol. I’m kind of obsessed with wanting to stay here. Next time?

An artist sells his work in Vieux Québec

October 15, 2010 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

Cole Slaw, Graffiti, and the Frontenac

Last Monday was one of the days on the trip that I was most excited to experience: Québec City! I’ve been wanting to visit Québec ever since my first trip to Montréal, but never seemed to have the time to drive a few more hours east. A few years ago, Skate Canada was in Québec and I thought I was going to go, but when I didn’t get credentialed, I couldn’t afford the cost of the trip, as well as a ticket, so I stayed home while my friends stayed in the room I’d booked in the Frontenac. I might still be a little bitter, especially after seeing the Frontenac. We’ll get there in a few paragraphs.

Although the drive from Montréal to Québec is only a few hours, it seemed a lot longer because it was fairly dull, and Jules and I were both so excited. When we finally got to the area, it was rainy and foggy, so our master plan of stopping at the waterfront in Lévis to take photos of Québec across the river wasn’t as fantastic as we’d hoped it would be. The view was lovely, so I hope I have the chance to photograph it on a sunny day sometime. Our Lévis stop meant that we crossed the river just as rush hour was beginning, so that combined with a lot of construction meant that we sat in traffic for an hour. I had no idea that was possible in a small city like Québec.

Fortunately, the day quickly redeemed itself. We checked into the Auberge du Littoral, near the river, east of downtown, and the girl working the reception desk highlighted a walking tour of downtown for us on a tourist map. She showed us where to park, where we could walk on the walls, where they had the war, where to buy our souvenirs, and where to buy cute clothes. Comprehensive and extremely helpful, especially since our time was limited!

We were starving, and no trip to La Belle Province is complete without a stop at St-Hubert, home of the best cole slaw in the world, so we paused at a St-Hubert near our inn, and then got on our way.

Stepping out of the parking garage was like stepping back in time, or at least, finding ourselves suddenly in Europe. I think I said to Jules, “I was on a street in Oxford that looked exactly like this!” There’s no other place in North America that comes so close to being European. Of course, les Québecois are proud of this and of their French heritage. Where Montréal bridges the gap between French- and Anglo-Canada, Québec stays firmly (and proudly) rooted on the French side. It’s the heart of the separatist movement (those in favour of Québec’s secession from the rest of Canada). I avoid political discussions, even in my own country, so I didn’t engage any residents in their views on the issue, but I did witness plenty of separatist graffiti, spray-painted on the walls of the Citadel. It made me so sad to see that—whether I agree or disagree with the politics, I don’t think there’s any reason to deface one of the most historic places in North America. But enough about that.

Our walking tour covered all of the main sites in the city. We started in Upper Town, near the Citadel, and we did indeed get to walk on top of a piece of the wall. Unfortunately, our view from the top of the fortress was of a parking lot below. I guess there’s no stopping progress, even in Old Québec. Just to the west of the walls are the Plains of Abraham, where the French fell to the British in 1759, giving the British control of Québec and ultimately paving the way for a united Canada. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, but I’ll need to do quite a bit more research before I can offer a full history on the matter.

From the Plains, we turned onto the Governor’s Promenade, a wooden boardwalk along the walls that overlooks the water. The Promenade leads directly to the Terrasse Dufferin, another boardwalk in front of the Chateau Frontenac, possibly the most impressive of the grand Canadian railway hotels. Built in 1893, the hotel is one of Québec’s most recognizable buildings and actually holds the Guinness World Record for “most photographed hotel.” At least, according to Wikipedia, it does.

Jules and I wandered around Upper Town for a little while, photographing fountains and churches and monuments, then headed down the stairs to Petit-Champlain, a little street in the Lower Town full of shops and restaurants. The picturesque street was charming, but we had one goal: Beaver Tails. I’d just had one in Ottawa, but Jules hadn’t had one in years, and we’d seen an ad for a Beaver Tail store in the guidebook. At the end of the street, we found a candy and ice cream shop with a Beaver Tail poster out front, so we went inside, just as a torrential downpour began.

And then the shop with the Beaver Tail poster didn’t actually sell Beaver Tails. The owners also owned the Beaver Tail store, which was just around the corner. So Jules and I tried to dash between raindrops (quite unsuccessfully) and by the time we arrived at the Beaver Tail store, we were completely drenched. It was closed, of course.

I was more worried about my camera than myself in the rain, so we ran back up to Petit-Champlain, where I bought a rain poncho in a souvenir shop. The men working in the shop watched me while I carefully lined my camera bag with the plastic and wrapped my camera and lenses in it. I felt a little silly, but anything to ensure the safety of my camera!

The shower ended up being fierce, but fairly short-lived, so as we headed back to the car in a light drizzle, we ducked into some shops that were still open. It turned out that the hotel girl had, indeed, made a fantastic recommendation for clothes shopping, but unfortunately, gas and food are taking priority over new clothes in my trip budget, so I couldn’t buy anything. I did, however, allow myself a gelato treat (coconut again, this time with pineapple!) as our final stop in Old Québec.

Overall, even despite the rain and the graffiti, I found Québec to be one of the most charming cities on my trip. Perhaps it’s only because it’s been three years since my last European trip and I’m missing it, perhaps because I’m attracted to old buildings. Either way, I really enjoyed my time in the city and am glad that after wanting to go there for seven years, it didn’t disappoint.

July 7, 2010 at 8:41 am 1 comment


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