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Quebec City is Canada's romantic destination. With it's cobblestone roads, horse and carriage tours, artists gift shops and charming outdoor patios it's got a European flare but with a Canadian charm. Old Quebec City embodies the French Culture with fine foods, outdoor live music and festivals which brings millions of tourists from around the world. It's one of Canada's oldest cities and is buzzing with energy all summer and winter long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With so much history, culture and entertainment you'll need to replace your heels with pair of sensible shoes because in my opinion the best way to really experience the city is by foot.

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Start with a walking tour of the Plains of Abraham which is the site of a major colonial battle between the British and the French. I rather enjoyed exploring the fort and trying to image what life would have been during the battle. For information about the history of Quebec visit QuebecHeritage.com

                   

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Below on the courtyard (photo on the right) is where one may find a lone musician discretely setting up his sheet music to an unsuspecting audience. Out of no where we hear the unforgettable music of Ava Maria. There we sat listening from above to this musician's commanding voice which sent shivers down our spine. Doesn't get any better than that.

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 Night shot of Rue du Petit Champlain.

 

One of my favorite areas of Old Quebec City is Rue du Petit Champlain. A long narrow cobblestone road with the most charming buildings. Many are adorned with colourful flower boxes spilling their foliage onto the ground. There you'll find many shops and cafes. If you are coming from the Frontenac and do not wish to walk down all the stairs to get to Rue du Petit Champlain hop on the gondola and enjoy the short but steep ride. There is a small fee to get on the gondola. I believe it's two dollars.

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When arriving to Old Quebec City it's virtually impossible to miss the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. A monolith of spectacular architecture standing tall from above the city overlooking the St. Lawrence. Take a walk on the over-sized board walk or better yet take a tour of the Chateau itself. It palatial presence is world famous attracting Royalty, Celebrities and famous people from around.

 

 

Fairmont Chateau Frontenac

Quebec City comes alive with street buskers, live music and entertainers from all walks of life. Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the city but Winter Carnival in the city offers an endless source of entertainment as well from shows, ice sculptures, sleigh rides, skating and more.

Quebec is an amazing province with so much so see. The Gaspe Peninsula (Gaspesie) is a fantastic road trip with long winding roads hugging the shore line. It offers spectacular views,  charming villages and rural French culture along the way. The Peninsula is the most eastern point of the province. I have been to Gaspe a few times and each time I have driven along the coastline starting on the North side.

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Marcel Gagnon Sculptures

An absolutely must see is the Centre D'Art Marcel Gagnon Restaurant. Artist Marcel Gagnon has a collection of world famous sculptures which are permanently embedded on the beach and in the water. The cafe is a perfect place to view his art and enjoy a nice lunch.

quebeccoastPerce Rock is a popular destination in Gaspe. The drive into Perce is absolutely breath taking and most definitely picture worthy. Perce is buzzing with tourists from all around. It's a charming town with many gifts shops and loads of seafood restaurants. There are nice hikes and ferry trips to Bonaventure Island but most importantly it's home of the Rock. Perce Rock that is. 

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Perce Rock

 

 

Perce Rock is an island and is nearly 400 million years old. Once believed to have 4 arches, it now has only one arch but one of the largest and most spectacular natural arches in the world. The arch is where the rock gets it name from. The rock contains millions of marine fossils and for four hours at a time during low tide the water recedes which allows tourist to visit this amazing monolith up close. Apparently as of 2008 walks to the rock are now only allowed with guide and I can certainly understand why. If you're not paying attention the tide will sneak up on you. I do recall a time when were at the far end of the rock and the water had started to fill in around the base of the rock so we had to hurry back to make sure we weren't in danger of getting washed out to sea:)

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Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé is the marriage of Perce Rock and Bonaventure Island. The park attracks millions of tourists from around the world and is home to natural habitat, wildlife and outstanding flora and fauna including its famous colony of Northern Gannets on Bonaventure Island. Enjoy a casual walk on the island, visit the Gannets and image what life was a century ago by visiting the old homes that remain.

Tide rolling in on Perce Rock

 

Gaspesie is just one of the many specatular regions of Quebec and is a wonderful trip for the entire family.

Our destination was Tadoussac, Quebec but our journey was Quebec. From Toronto and headed to Ottawa to stay with our friends for the weekend. Having friends in Ottawa is great because it's good resting spot for the long trip ahead. Although we really didn't rest too much. We were able to enjoy an afternoon of kayaking on Meech Lake in Gateneau Park, Quebec and later enjoyed a nice lunch in the charming town of Wakefield. Perfect place to start our trip.

From there we drove to Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie which is one of my favorite parks in Quebec. Here's a brief description I borrowed from their website-Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie was named after a series of valleys cut deep into a range of high mountains. They are the highest rock faces east of the Rockies! Steep slopes, beautiful natural surroundings, and the unusual course of Rivière Malbaie make this an exceptional site. Come and take a voyage into the heart of the Land of Menaud, where time stops but the spectacle goes on and on. This national park has the privilege of being one of the core zones of the Charlevoix World Biosphere Reserve.

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We were fortunate enough to reserve a campsite in the park. They  book up fast so best to book early in the season. From the campground we jumped on the shuttle bus which took us to the L'Acropole-des-Draveurs, one of seven trails to choose from. The trails range from easy to difficult. Ours was the difficult trail which is a 10.4 km trip-round trip. The trail is a continuous incline with tall steps but the view from the top is simply breathtaking. It reminds me of a smaller version of Gros Morne Mountain. Make sure to bring water and snacks or better yet pack a nice lunch and enjoy it at the top of the mountain.

From there we drove to Tadoussac, well not directly to Tadoussac you actually have to take a very short ferry ride to get to there. If you're lucky you might get a peek of a whale during the ferry ride. Tadoussac is an intimate town overlooking the Saguenay-Saint Laurent. From the town you take a short hike to edge of the bay where you are almost guaranteed to see the whales. I have been there three times and have seen whales every time from the shore but there are many boat tours that offer whale watching excursions where you can get a little closer to the whales. If your really adventurous you can rent kayaks and get as close as you dare. It's a beautiful destination and offers something for the entire family. Kids can have a blast playing in the sand dunes as well.

Tadoussac

Image courtesy of Hotel Tadoussac

So from Tadoussac we drove south on route 138 and then then north and then west on route 170. Highway 170 is probably a longer route over 172 which is north of the Saguenay but we had the time and wanted to take the more scenic route. We stopped for lunch at L'Anse Saint Jean which is a charming artist community with lots of shops and a couple of good vegetarian friendly restaurants. There is also a kayak rental company called Fjord en Kayak where you can rent kayaks. I've done that on one of our previous visits to L'Anse Saint Jean and really enjoyed the trip-calm water surrounded by nature.

Our next stop Auberge de Battures. Nestled on a hill overlooking the Baie des Ha!Ha! the Auberge de Battures is a lovely spot to visit. The rooms have a bit of a country feel and in my opinion were okay, nothing fancy and a little outdated but I was all about the view and happy to get a room with a view of the bay. The service was fantastic and the dining was exceptional. Being a vegetarian I never know what to expect especially for rural Quebec but all I can say was it was probably one of the best vegetarian dinners I have ever had! It was a perfect evening. The following day we went for a dip in the bay and soaked up some sun and then explored the town of Grande Baie and la Baie Harbor for the remainder of the afternoon. We were surprised to see that the la Baie was a popular passage for huge cruise ships. A new port was under construction and what had been completed at that time looked like a very modern station at the port. The port would be accommodating large cruise ships which would be traveling from the US. That we pretty cool.

Auberge de Battures

From there headed back to our next destination, Quebec City where we would be meeting up with the same friends we visited in Ottawa who happen to be in Quebec City the same time we were. On route we stopped at a Fromagerie and picked up some delicious cheese to take home with us. We also stopped at Baie Saint Paul for lunch. In all my travels to Quebec I was not familiar with Baie Saint Paul but my husband discovered it doing a little research on line.

Baie Saint Paul

The town is full of artists shops and restaurants and was just buzzing with tourists. It was very quaint. We made our way to Quebec City that evening and took a stroll through Old Quebec. I have been to Quebec City at least six times and always enjoy the culture and energy of the city. The next day we took a day trip just thirty minutes east of Quebec City to Ile d'Orleans. To get to Ile d'Orleans you drive over a very long bridge, which I have seen many times in passing but had no idea where the bridge took you. We investigated and were pleased with the outcome. This is a good day trip that you can enjoy without rushing. The first thing to do is stop at the Tourist Information Centre to pick up a booklet and map of all the points of interests which include churches, vineyards, chocolate factories, artists studios, gifts shops and even a lilac field. It's an easy tour because it's a loop and one main road. We picked up some wine and fresh strawberries and blueberries from a local farmer. The strawberries were incredible-probably the best I have had, the wine- not so much.

Galerie Boutique Petronille-Ile d'Orleans

One of our stops was this beautiful home where Gallery/Boutique can be found. The boutique is located in the back of the house facing the St. Lawrence. Spectacular setting.

Lavender Fields-Ile d'Orleans- A must see!

I also enjoyed our visit to the Lavender Fields. The colour was intense and the scenery around the fields was breath taking. Later that night we met our friends and had a little picnic in the park outside the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City with the wine and cheese we bought. That evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner in Old Quebec City.

That brings me to the end our trip. It was a great holiday and I'm sure there will be many more trips in Quebec with new and exciting discoveries.

 

The first thing to do is stop at the Tourist Information Centre to pick up a booklet and map of all the points of interests which include churches, vineyards, chocolate factories, artists studios, gifts shops and even a lilac field. It's an easy tour because it's a loop and one main road. We picked up some wine and fresh strawberries and blueberries from a local farmer. The strawberries were incredible-probably the best I have had, the wine- not so much.