Canada: Québec City

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Michele Moricci

QUÉBEC The alarm rings in the early morning because at 9 o’clock  we have a direct bus to Québec City. Located a few hours from MontréalQuébec City is the capital of the Canadian province Québec and is the oldest city in North America. Collected in ancient walls that preserve a french-ish charm, the city is bathed by Saint Laurent and is considered a World Heritage Site.

Our Hotel is just a few steps far from Porte Saint Jean, the access to the old city center. While we wait for the check-in, Giovanni’s colleagues come along and while waiting we order a great bagel for lunch. Back at the hotel – the reception hand us over the keys to a room on the top floor with a magnificent view. 

In the afternoon we walk along the elegant Hotel du Parlement and walk on the walls of La Citadelle, from which you can observe the old port in the distance, the aquamarine roofs and the St. Lawrence River. The natural atmosphere is mixed with the one from an ancient city that has remained intact over time. The wind stirs the leaves while the sun hides behind the horizon and suddenly feels like being in Northern Europe. The silver roofs of the houses sparkle still at the last rays of sun and we descend along a flourishing garden that runs along the walls – while locals enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

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Enjoying a typically American expensive and tasteless ice cream, we cross the Vieux-Port full of small shops and bistrots on which stands the beautiful Chateau Frontenac. We arrive to Place Royale, historical place of the first french settlements. It ‘so perfect and new that it feels like we are on a cinematic set. We get lost among the many shops of North American gadgets then get on the funicular up to the Quartier Petite Champlain – place reserved for craftsmen in the 17th century and today an eclectic city center where you can find street artist, shops and restaurants. In the evening, looking for a place to eat, we end up eating pizza in the only restaurant still open on Place Royale.

Returning to the hotel we all agree we have seen much of what the city had to offer and so, in an attempt to see something more naturalistic, we reluctantly choose a sightseeing tour. Grabbed the phone and booked a ride to Île d’Orléans, to falls of Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and the Basilique Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
 

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The day after we get on a bus full of elderly couples and families with children. On board the bus we cross hastily Ile d’Orleans but we can see the skyline of Québec City on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. Meanwhile, the gray sky looks stormy. The clouds will dissipate and so between a store-grabbing tourists and the other we can get to Montmorency Falls. Higher than Niagara Falls, those of Montmorency ensure a wonderful show.
 
The water falls and freely meet again with the river, the spurts bathe our faces as the sun’s rays will intersect to form bright rainbows. A staircase awaits us to reach the top of a footbridge suspended in space from which to view the falls from above.
 

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We leave to make a stop at Chez Marie, a small house where they produce and sell products to the sweet maple syrup. Anticipating so much goodness we look forward for it, once arrived we realize that it is a place a little ‘more rustic than we have imagined, but now that we are here we tasted a slice of bread with maple syrup cream and remain satisfied. Finally it’s time for the Basilique of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, a Gothic building looking modern with a mix of European styles mixed together in a loaded Baroque appearance. Depictions of the encounter between the pilgrims and Natives enlighten its bold appearance. Nearby just highways, motels, some houses collected in small villages with rural feel.
 
Elegant Québec City is definitely delicious, and two days may be enough to take in the ancient taste of a relatively new city in the heart of North America. Exhausted we go back to the small bus station to return to Montréal, where we still have a couple of days before departure.
 
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Michele Moricci