We took the time over the St. Jean Baptiste weekend to visit Quebec City, driving up by the Chemin du Roy, a longer route along the Saint Lawrence river waterfront, and arriving late Friday afternoon. The trip being rather last minute, we had booked an airbnb over at Levis, a town that was a short ferry ride of about 20 minutes (loading + unloading time) across the river from Quebec City. We had great views from the little patio in front of the apartment, and could even see the Montmorency falls in the distance!
We walked around the old town and got burgers and sweet potato + normal fries at the Chic Shack, while waiting for the St. Jean Baptiste day concert on Friday night. At the entrance, we were stopped because of a carton of milk we had picked up for breakfast the next day. We hid it in a bush and tried to enter again, and this time got a little further – but there was a second security check where they were stricter about what we could or could not bring! I’d a metallic water bottle on me, and was deemed undesirable. It was too bad, but it was getting late, so we decided to call it a day.
The next morning, we headed back across the river. Quebec City was bustling with the old European town charm. The imposing Chateau Frontenac on the hill caught our eye from the ferry, and as we approached we could see the small twining roads lined with shop houses, and tourists!
Quebec is set on a hill, and to reach the Chateau and the “Haut Ville”, there were numerous staircases or pathways you could take. At the top, the Terrasse Dufferin, a long boardwalk, gave great views over the Saint Lawrence river, and at the end, was the Promenade des Gouverneurs (with many stairs!) leading up to the Citadelle of Quebec and the Plains of Abraham, where the English had won the battle against the French long ago.
On passing by the parliament building, we saw that it was a “Portes ouvertes” day, where we could visit the building. The upholstery was impressive, and what really marked me was how Quebec seemed to be a country itself, with her “National Assembly”, parliament house, political parties, and leaders.
We made our way back downhill towards the Marché du Vieux-Port, which was principally a food market with vegetables and other local produce. We continued along the port and stopped for a late lunch at Buffet de l’Antiquaire, where we each got huge portions of the meat tourte!
After lunch, we settled down on the Place de Paris, where there were fountains and other water installations with kids running about, taking advantage of the good weather. We settled down on the grass to people watch and to catch a quick shut-eye.
Along the old port we also saw a pizza counter/bar with live music and a pool in which you could sit while eating! Seems like a great concept for a hot day, and the customers look pretty happy, but we didn’t give it a try as we were still full from lunch…
In the end, we went for coffee at Maison Smith in the Place Royale, watching the people coming and going around the square before heading back to our airbnb.
On our last day we chose to head out on a short day trip to the Montmorency Falls. We parked at the IGA in the small town just after the falls, grabbed a picnic lunch, and went back to the falls. The crossing over the top of the falls gave a good view, and you could watch the people doing the flying fox over the falls (for about 25CAD). The long walk down the side gave changing views at every little hut. At the bottom, the spray from the falls covered the platform. The climb back up the stairs was surprisingly not so tiring – maybe because we could always look the the falls for a pick me up.
The last stop of the day was Ile d’Orleans across the falls, and the Ferme François Gosselin for strawberry picking! We were just in time for the beginning of the season, and got two 1L boxes for $4 each ($5 for 1L of strawberries already packed at the counter). The strawberries were plump and juicy, and it was also fun to make your way along the rows and rows to find the best berries for your little box.
It’d been an enjoyable weekend overall – Quebec City is definitely a must visit when you’re in the area, or simply for a taste of Europe in North America.