Thursday, June 20, 2013

C'est quoi Québec, une ville féerique

I have the pleasure of sharing my and Alicia's latest adventure in Quebec City. This was the first time I've ever traveled outside the United States and I had a blast. Learning to communicate in a foreign language and interacting with a foreign culture is like becoming a child again. You are vulnerable and feel the need to trust that others will help you when you are in need. And one of the greatest rewards that a child can gain from an experience like this is realizing that we are not that different from each other after all. Enjoy!

Quebec City is the capital of the province of Quebec. This propeller aircraft in Toronto took us there. Yeah, it's a small plane.

It was dark by the time we reached Jean-Lesage International Airport. This is Montreal at night. Quebec City is about 155 miles north.

Our tiny hotel room for the week. It felt pretty cozy by the end of our vacation.

We stayed at the Hôtel Cavalier du moulin in Vieux-Québec, an historic district that was made a World Heritage Site in 1985.

Our first meal was crêpes at Le Petit Château.

Looking out onto the Fleuve Saint-Laurent and La Place-Royale.

View on the Terrasse Dufferin.







We bypassed the funiculaire all week and instead walked on the Casse-Cou staircase in order to get from the Terrace to the Basse-Ville. "Casse-cou" literally means breakneck in English, and we certainly got a workout every time we climbed those stairs. In Basse-Ville there are small, quaint streets that wind around the Place-Royale and are filled with shops, cafés, and restaurants. This street is part of the Petit Champlain Quarter.

View from inside a shop in the Petit Champlain Quarter.

La Place-Royale. Around this square reside some of the oldest structures in North America. The church on the right is built on the foundations of the first building erected by Champlain in the 17th century.

This is what that building actually looked like.

This plaque commemorates that Habitation. The date given for the founding of Quebec is July 3, 1608.

A mural depicting different time periods in the city's history. Alicia is standing at the bottom left-center of the picture.

These are the remains of houses that once stood near the Place-Royale.




Alicia really liked these flowers by the Château Frontenac.

This small market became our best friend during our stay. It helped us to not break the bank while staying in a relatively expensive part of the city. One evening, while shopping for dinner, we found ourselves witnesses to a minor altercation between the store clerk and a not-so-polite customer. Québécois cashiers are not afraid to give irate customers a piece of their own mind.
We ate several meals in our hotel room. That day it was sandwiches, macaroni salad, and apple juice. We also bought a loaf of bread for jam that lasted the entire week.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Winston Spencer Churchill. Random busts at first glance, but it turns out that Château Frontenac was the site of very important conferences during World War II.

The Parliament Building.

A bit of rain did not stop us from exploring. Bust of Louis XIV on the Place-Royale.




To rest our feet, we refueled at Café Dépot.

View from beneath La Porte St. Jean, one of the gates that lead into Vieux-Québec.

Palais Montcalm.







Québec Libre! Free Quebec! A separatist movement still exists in Quebec today. In fact, it almost became a country in 1995. This graffito appeared on La Citadelle, which is a structure of historical and governmental importance to the province, but it didn't seem like anyone was in a hurry to get it off.

We stopped by Paillard for some lunch. We both had cold smoked salmon sandwiches.

The Museum of French America. Perhaps, the most important reason for me making this trip. Somehow I completely forgot that the researcher who helped publish the modern French version of Jean-Baptiste Trudeau's journal had used original copies of the work from the Séminaire de Québec, which is right next door!

This is a view of the Séminaire which is still a functioning school. I wasn't able to take pictures inside the museum, but while I was perusing the exhibits, Alicia said, "Chris, come here." And there was a sample of an original copy of the journal! For a history buff like me, it was amazing! Trudeau was a fur trader who paddled up the Missouri River before Lewis and Clark. His writings are among the few that still exist which detail the Native American tribes that existed at that time.

Upon leaving the museum, I took this shot which really shows how European this city is. The architecture and layout is very much in the Old World Style.

Art vendors on the streets of Vieux-Québec.

The WiFi was not working at our hotel, so we eventually went in search for a network. It was a nice evening to be outside anyway.


At the time this footage was filmed, there were student protests going on throughout the province. We saw protesters march down our street a few times over the week but this one was the largest. They were relatively peaceful compared to the ones happening in Montreal. According to the news, at least 400 people were arrested in one night there. They were protesting the increase in university tuition rates and Bill 78, a law that prohibits certain assemblies without approval from the police. I filmed this clip from the window of our hotel room.

Checking out the flowers at the Marché du Vieux-Port.

We didn't get to visit the Musée de la Civilisation, but it's supposed to be a really good museum.

La Place d'Youville at night.

We decided to go biking for a while and discover more of the city. At first, we tried a tandem. Alicia loved it. I feel silly when riding them. That's the Château Frontenac in the background.

We got hybrids and biked to Parc de la Chute-Montmorency which is about an hour ride from the port of Quebec.

We took the télégraphique up the mountain, but walked back down.

Alicia wanted to drink from the mountain and she said it tasted pretty clean.

Nothing like mist from a waterfall to cool you down.







At the top of the falls we stopped in a diner for some hamburgers and poutine (French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds). It was delicious!

I always spoke French first to the locals and generally found that people were more willing to speak English if you at least gave it a shot.

A short rest at a snack bar on the bike trail or route verte.

We visited the Artillery Park on our last full day in Quebec.

This cistern was located underground and was part of an original structure that once held munition stores. It was actually used as a lightning rod when it was filled with water, to divert lightning away from the powder that sat in the building next to it.

Beaver pelt and mink furs. 80% of New France's revenue initially came from the fur trade.

Model soldiers showing off uniforms from different time periods. The one on the left is the earliest example of the group.

An example of the cramped living conditions of French soldiers in the barracks.




The Officers' Mess. When the British took over Quebec City in 1759, they also took over La Redoute Dauphine. The redoubt is strategically located on a hill overlooking the Rivière St. Charles.

Soldiers would've slept in rooms like this one.

A 1728 model musket!

Regiment flags hang over the staircase that leads down to the casemate.

A view from within the Artillery Park walls nestled in the middle of Vieux-Québec.

La Redoute Dauphine.

We also visited the National Battlefields Park. Alicia took this photo of dandelions in front of the Discovery Pavillion. We watched a neat multimedia exhibition that discussed the siege of Quebec during the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War) and also gave a brief history of the formation of Canada.







This spoon belonged to Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, commander of the French forces in North America during the French and Indian War. Both he and British general James Wolfe died in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Alicia found time to crochet. We walked through the Plains of Abraham, the site where the final battle for Quebec took place in 1759.


I asked two picnickers what they thought were the most beautiful and interesting things in Quebec. It's a smaller and more personal city with plenty of parks, but has the advantages of a bigger city.

A horse carriage in front of the Manège militaire Voltigeurs de Québec.

Well, you've been a wonderful host, Quebec City! Perhaps, we will meet again in the future. Thanks for the memories! A monument to Samuel de Champlain watches over the city as another day draws to a close.

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