Touring Québec City

Tuesday, 7/13


Tuesday began with some cloudiness and a few drizzles;  undaunted we mounted our assault on Québec City. Our 1st stop would be the old town and the Citadel, where we would see the changing of the guard at 10 AM and tour the fort. Québec City is pretty much built on a cliff. You’re either walking up steps or down steps or up or down steep grades. Lucky for us we had eased ourselves into the heavy duty walking with the visit to Montreal. Still, it’s a fair hoof from the marina to the Citadel, and it’s ALL uphill! We arrived just in the nick of time to see the changing of the guard, quite a lot of military OCD regimen, but quite impressive. I was wondering how they keep the goat from eating those big hats, it wasn’t covered on the tour. The military band plays traditional marches and they play with the intensity of a good military band. Some nice euphonium parts were fun to listen to and brought back some fond memories!

Here’s a video clip of the activities…

There are lots more photos in the gallery, click on any photo in the blog to link to the gallery to see more or view in a slide show.


From the Citadel, we headed down hill (doh!) for Eglise Ste.-Jean Baptiste and toured the church and the surrounding neighborhood. Our timing was good, we happened to arrive as the organist and a trumpet player were practicing. Pomp & Circumstance was the piece; OK, it’s a tired old graduation march, but it was interesting because they were working on the transition from the standard trumpet to D-trumpet, the high-pitched smaller bore instrument whose voice echoes through the cathedral. Beautiful church! We passed several of the venues set up for the Festivale de ête that runs in July. Several big name groups are playing, Santana was slated for Tuesday night. Others were Black Eyed Peas, Rammstein, more whose names might as well be in Greek for me. then headed toward Grande Allé, still part of Upper Town, for further exploration and lunch. Grande Allé was the prime neighborhood for the well-to-do to build mansions and live at the turn of the century, but today most of the stately old homes have been converted to clubs or restaurants. We had lunch at Maison du Spaghetti, one of the sidewalk cafés that front the restaurants, good meal, great to sit down! From there we made our way back through the Vieux Québec walls at Youville, toured our second church, Basilique Notre-Dame de Québec. Another beautiful huge church, lots and lots of gold leaf, and soaring sculptures. Jaw-dropping!


From Notre-Dame, we wandered through Old Town with the rest of the tourist hordes, lots of interesting old buildings, plenty of shops, and lots & lots of French! We’re beginning to be able to read more of the signs, the context of signage helps. All of Canada must be bi-lingual, except for Québec, where complicated language laws prohibit signage in English without the requisite French comprising a majority percentage of the sign. The OQLF, or language police enforce the rules, frequently a bone of contention between the anglophones and francophones. Still, we have not had a problem at all finding English speaking folks, especially where money changes hands! We made our way back down through Old Québec, arriving back at the boat with very tired feet! Fortunately, the rain had held off all day with nothing more than a few sprinkles here and there. With high humidity and temps in the high 80’s and low 90’s in the sun, it was good to get into some A/C for a break!


After dinner on board and a stroll afterward with the dogs, we collapsed onto the settee to catch up with Jack Bauer’s activities. Susan, our friend and marina owner at Stansbury lent us the DVD’s for season 1 of “24” the TV series. Since we can’t get much TV here, and what we can get is in french, an occasional hour in front of the tube is a welcome activity. Our viewing was interrupted by the sound of thunder and flashing lights,and the sound of rain. It wasn’t the weather, but the evening show that takes place in the basin.


The huge Bunge silos dominate the cityscape on the north side of the basin, and what could be considered an eyesore during the day, at night is transformed into a wondrous massive big screen. Not your typical big screen, this is about a third of a mile, and is fitted with special effects that include lighting, lasers, smoke, and a surround sound system that covers the entire basin area. The show is a narrative of Québec’s history told in pictures and sound. Very interesting, and the special effects are remarkable! The rumble of thunder was what caught our attention, since we didn’t know about the show before we were in the middle of it! A very creative use of the huge structures!


Wednesday, 7/14


We decided to break out the bikes Wednesday morning, as our feet were beat from our trek the previous day! Québec is a great biking area, with miles and miles of bike paths, all wonderfully maintained and easy to ride. We set out to the north and west, riding along Riviére Saint-Charles. After a mile or so, we crossed a bridge to the other side, then made the return trip. We were amazed at the number of cyclists we passed, and at the age spread. We observed that here in Québec we see far fewer obese folks than we have elsewhere, but at the same time it seems everyone smokes. I guess there are few places that rival York County for the abundance of bulge!


On our return, we headed back to town for a run to the Metro, a large grocery store similar to what we’d expect in the states. Much of Québec is served by local épicerie, small independent stores that typically have smaller stock of fresh goods, as many folks here prepare food european-style, fetching the ingredients they need for the day’s cooking from the store that day. Same goes for the baker, or boulangerie where there are always fresh breads available. Although we didn’t take advantage of that opportunity, we’ll have opportunity further along when larger stores aren’t available.


Following lunch, we biked back into St. Roch, Lower Town, Upper Town, and through Old Town to complete our circuit back to the basin. Whew! We periodically ditched our bikes, locking at a handy bike rack, then doing the steep stuff on foot, returning to retrieve the bikes and head to the next venue. Fortunately, the last leg back to the marina is a steep downhill run, a welcome relief from the climbing and stairs! A quiet dinner, some swimming for Molly, and a short walk after dinner before the show on the silos, regrettably, a re-run!
We’ll top off the water, and head out on the morning tide for Cap-a-l’aigle, saying goodbye to belle Québec City!

One Response to “Touring Québec City”

  1. Todd & Belinda on 19 Jul 2010 at 7:36 PM #

    wow! what a beautiful area.
    Have Fun!
    Todd & Belinda