Friday, August 5, 2016

Quebec City

As absolutely much as I disliked Montreal, I totally love, love, love Quebec City.  

The area is french to the point that both languages no longer appeared on the signs, billboards or restaurant menus--only french.   Even all the signs in Walmart were in french.  I had a fun time trying to find a bathroom until I happened to use the word 'twa-let' (toilet).  The clerk then smiled and pointed. My most used word became 'Merci',  followed by 'sortie' (exit).  For my cousin, Jamie,--I am still looking for a Riviere du Jamie, there must be one here somewhere. 

Kebec, an Algonquin word meaning 'where the river narrows,' was founded  in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain.  Quebec City, the capitol city of the province of Quebec, is one of the oldest cities in North America.  

The walls surrounding Old Quebec are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico.  The walls and the Historic District of Old Quebec were declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1985.
The fortress wall is 2 1/2 miles long and is seen here below the hotel. If you look closely it is midway up from the river.

The city sits entirely on an island in the St. Lawrence River. 

(Looking at Quebec City as seen from the top of the hill in Levis)

At 500,000 people Quebec City is less than 1/4 the size of Montreal, and a much more manageable size for me to navigate.  Again, I knew it would be impossible to force Spirit's broad beam down the narrow streets of a 400 year old city and  I felt sure there would be overpasses low enough that I would have to duck my head, not to mention Spirit's.

So, on a very rainy day, I parked in the little suburb of Quebec called Levis across the river from the city.  I planned to take the ferry across the next morning--without Spirit.  My first glimpse at the city, through the rain,  was dark and ominous.  I was worried but determined not to have another Montreal experience.

It rained the entire afternoon as I sat and watched the ships travel the river through my screened window. 

The next morning was clear with a promise of sun.  Finally the city was starting to look inviting.

Quebec is number one on every favorable list of cities in the Americas; Most romantic, most beautiful, most inviting, best place to kiss, and on and on.   

I parked near the Levis hospital and hiked the mile down the cliff to the ferry dock.   The return trip later that day would be via the city bus.

Note the stairs going up the hill on the left of this photo.
I did not think I would make it back up those stairs after a day of sightseeing.

(homestead belonging to pioneer family of ship builders)

Levis was the ship builder's side of the river....

and there are still remnants of the shipyards that once covered the shore.

Now it is this charming park with lots of walking paths, restaurants and some of the preserved houses and buildings.

This little girl caught my eye...

She squealed with joy every time the fountain caught her.... 

 Then waited patiently for it all to happen again.

The City side of the river was the port with granaries and warehouses all along the shore.

That cluster of old buildings along the river was originally the headquarters and warehouses for the fur trading companies.  One of the buildings dated from 1625 (that one is now a t-shirt and kitschy souvenir shop--progress you know.)

Looking down on the old city is this marvelous edifice...Chateau Frontenac.

I think I took a picture from every angle but not one picture did this building justice.

When the ferry landed it was right at the edge of the Old City.

There was no way I would see everything except by walking.  There were lots of benches so I knew I could take it slow and rest a lot.

Everywhere I looked it was charming--and so clean and cared for.

The old brick walkways were a challenge, and sometimes rather steep but the stairs helped.

And look at these hanging--whatevers.

They looked like colorful boats and swayed in unison in the breeze.

The outdoor cafes were so inviting with overflowing flower boxes... 

...and it was hard sometimes to tell where the artwork ended and reality stepped in.

I rested right here and listened to the harpist play.  
There are a number of ruins like these throughout the city.  
It reminded me of Italy.

There  is so much history here that I did not know about....

The King's Daughters is a term used to refer to the approximately 800 young french women who immigrated to New France between 1663 and 1673 as part of a program sponsored by Louis XIV.  Their passage was paid for by the king to encourage more male immigrants to settle here, marry and have children, (and to stop co-habiting with the native American women). Descendants of those unions are the DAR of Canada. 

Yes, that is a Porsche going down the street.  Less than a dozen cars were on the streets all day.

Every time I looked up I saw something strange....


But not all of the artwork was weird.

This is the first time I have seen something by Salvador Dali 
that didn't make my eyes roll.

I decided not to climb up the hill to the Chateau Frontenac 
but to ride up in the Funicular

If you look above the top of that house 
you will see the Funicular climbing the hill.

 I had a front window in the elevator car and 
the most spectacular view of Old Quebec with Levis across the river. 
 Those very colorful rooftops are common sights throughout Quebec Province.  

Icelander Leifur Eiriksson, (c. 970--c. 1020)  the son of Erik the Red, was the first European to explore North America. He visited here around the year 1000.  Archeological finds nearby are thought to date back to that exploration.

This is the top of the wall and at the base of that spectacular hotel.

There were very good street performers that entertained continuously.

In the early 1980s in a small town near Quebec City, a band of colorful characters roamed the streets, striding on stilts, juggling, dancing, breathing fire and playing music.     

In 1984 Quebec City was celebrating the 450th anniversary of the discovery of Canada by Jacques Cartier, and the city needed a show that would carry the festivities out across the province.  The street performers,  known as the 'Stiltwalkers', were hired, and from that production, Cirque du Soleil (the Circus of the Sun) was born.

The day was coming to an end so I took the Funicular back down the hill and stopped for a light dinner in one of the outdoor cafes before heading back to the ferry.

One last revelation of history....

257 years ago in a 20 minute battle Quebec City was lost to the British.  In that 20 minutes the U.S. fate was sealed.  If that battle had not been lost the U.S. would, today, more than likely, be a property of France.  No Revolutionary War would have been fought, no War of 1812, no Louisiana Purchase, no Battle of New Or-leeeens, and no need for Freedom Fries.  The very French Quebec Province along with much of the U.S. would belong to France and not the United Kingdom.

 Ron sent me an excellent article about this battle that is well-worth reading.

My day had started at 10 a.m. in the morning and I returned on the ferry at 8p.m., tired but satisfied that I had seen everything possible.  The city bus driver, in somewhat broken English,  helped me find Spirit. I climbed in, drove the 4 miles to Walmart, parked and instantly fell asleep.  Thanks, Babe.
Everything in Italics is from their printed materials or from Wikipedia.


  1. Brings back a lot of memories, Toni. Linda and I went there on our honeymoon. It was November so it was a bit too cold but still very beautiful. I commented that Quebec felt more like Europe to me than Europe did. We didn't find a Jamie River either but at least every other River around there shares my last name - at least on their French maps.

    1. Quebec is now my all time favorite city. I see why you picked it-- It is the perfect place for a honeymoon.

  2. My paternal grandmother was a French Canadian. Poverty drove her out of Canada to the U.S. And now look how prosperous it is in French Canada.
    Must see this all some day!

    1. Canada has a very prosperous feel about it. The highways are mostly better than ours, the parks and rest stops are better, and I have yet to see any boarded up or deserted towns--of which we have plenty. Now, with climate change, it may become my favorite place to live.