Quebec, Canada - September 18-29, 2023
If you would like to visit a country in Europe (maybe France), but not suffer from jet lag, then a trip to Quebec, Canada, would be a good choice.
We visited Montreal and Quebec City, and both were very nice. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada (2+ Million) and Quebec City is about 500K. We learned about the history of Canada from the various tours we took. Quebec really uses their French language extensively, but we had no trouble finding folks everywhere that spoke English. It was pleasing in locations out of the tourist areas, to hear people talking to each other in French.
In both cities, bicycles are a popular mode of transportation, especially Montreal. There are lots of bike lanes and you need to keep out of them! There was a massive amount of construction going on in both cities, probably because it has to be done during the summer.
This was our first time to use Uber to get around the cities. It worked very well and was not very expensive for the convenience.
We learned that Quebec City is the only fortified city north of Mexico. The fortified walls and ramparts were the city's defensive system built between 1608 and 1871. The St. Lawrence River at Quebec City has tides from the Atlantic Ocean that can reach up to 20 feet.
The weather was very pleasant as summer was drawing to a close for a winter that we would not want to experience. We learned that in downtown Montreal, there is an extensive tunnel system connecting almost all the buildings, so they can move about without getting out in the winter weather.
[Monday] We left Houston at 9:40 AM on Air Canada flight AC582, an Airbus A220-300 and arrived in Montreal on time. After checking into our hotel, Le St. Martin Hotel Particulier Montreal, we walked around the area and went into a mall and ate at a Chinese cafe. Lots of bicycles were everywhere. We got back to our hotel at 6:30pm.
[Tuesday] Today, we woke up to a misty rain outside. We were supposed to take the history walking tour of old Montreal but the weather made us change our plans. We contacted the tour operator and rescheduled our tour for the next day. We stayed in our room until about 10am.
Since the weather was not too bad, we walked a short distance to Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral and went inside. It is a very beautiful cathedral.< < Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral.
As we left the cathedral, we saw a lot of flashing lights and veary loud music coming down the street. It was some kind of parade with people with signs in French that we think was about a casino. We never understood why they were upset.
After lunch we walked to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and spent the afternoon. It was overcast and misty outside all day and the temperature was in the 60's. The museum portion we visited was on 4 floors and had some paintings by the masters.
[Wednesday] The sun was shining this morning. When we returned from breakfast, the water was off in the room. We called the front desk and they said that it was being worked on and should be on in 20 minutes.
We took an Uber from the hotel to Place de Arms, the meeting point for our History Walking Tour of Old Montreal. The traffic was horrible because of closed streets due to all the construction going on everywhere in the city during the summer months and we barely made it on time. The tour was from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM.The tour was of the East side of old town and our guide was extremely informative and funny. It was a great tour
Here is the information provided by the tour operator:
No visit to Montreal is complete without a wander through Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal), widely considered the best-preserved Old Town in North America. This small-group walking tour is adapted to the interests of the group but can include stops at Place Jacques-Cartier, Rue St-Paul, City Hall, and the Old Port.
* Guided walking tour of Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal) in Montreal
* An interesting introduction ideal for first-time visitors
* Wander the cobbled streets of the Old Port, home to 18th-century architecture and quaint cafes
* Enjoy the personalized feel of a small-group tour
Read more about Old Montreal walking tour off the beaten path By FITZ MONTREAL - https://www.viator.com/tours/Montreal/Old-Montreal-Discovery-Tour/d625-46377P4?mcid=56757
After the tour, we ate lunch at a deli and walked around the area. We saw many beautiful streets and buildings, and visited the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel.
We then walked back to the hotel and ate supper near the hotel at a place called Poki Monster. It was a little unusual, but OK.
[Thursday] This morning we hung around the hotel until 10:00 AM and then walked to the meeting point for our 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM History Walking Tour. This tour was similar to the one we took yesterday, but this one covered the West Side of the old city. Our guide was very good.
Across the river, we saw Habitat 67, a unusual housing complex at Cite du Havre, on the Saint Lawrence River, designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie for the Expo67.
After the tour ended, we went up in a viewing tower at the Pointe-A-Calliere and got a great view of the city and the harbor. We then took a Uber back to our hotel and rested.
Thursday night at 7:30 PM, we attended a performance of Rafael Payare and Mahler's "Titan" Symphony by the Montreal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Place de Arts of Montreal. We were surprised at how well attended it was in the middle of the week.
[Friday] Today was our last day in Montreal and it was busy. This morning we took an Uber to Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal. It is a big cathedral near the top of the mountain overlooking Montreal. It is usual because it is very modern inside, compared to all the other Catholic Churches we have seen. It was said to be the largest pilgrimage center in the world dedicated to Saint Joseph.
Next we went to the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal for a tour inside and at 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM, we attended an organ concert. We had tickets to sit up in the loft with the organist as he played the concert. It was quite an experience. The impressive organ is a Cassvant and has 7,000 pipes. The shortest is 1/4 inch and the longest is 32 feet. It is supposed to be the greatest instrument in North America, only matched in the world by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
After the concert, we went to Schwartz's Deli, a hole-in-the-wall place to get one of their famous poutines, a Montreal must eat food item. Every restaurant had them.
[Saturday] Today we checked out of our hotel at 10:30 AM and walked to the Montreal Central Train Station. We took the 12:45 pm VIA Rail Canada train #24 to Quebec City Care Du Palais Station, and arrived at 4:40, about 15 minutes late. We used a taxi to get to our hotel, Hotel PUR Quebec, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, and checked in at 5:30 PM.
We ate supper at the hotel restaurant and got back in our room for the night at 7:30. Our room, #810, had a great view of the Saint Roch church across the street. Unfortunately, it seemed to be having some renovation going on and was never open for us to see inside.
[Sunday] Today we had scheduled a Quebec City Walking Tour from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, so we took an Uber and rode to our meeting point. The weather was good and we enjoyed the tour of the historic city.
Here is the information provided by the tour operator:
Explore historic Old Quebec City on this walking tour. Visit many of Quebec City's top attractions in the Upper and Lower Town districts - like the Fortifications of Quebec, Citadelle of Quebec, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church and many more. Discover Quebec City's history from 1608 to the present day and get to know this UNESCO World Heritage site, with educational and entertaining commentary from a professional tour conductor.
* Walking tour throughout historic Old Quebec City
* Visit to Upper Town and Lower Town
* Entertaining and informative commentary Licensed and professional guide
Read more about Quebec City Walking Tour - https://www.viator.com/tours/Quebec-City/Quebec-City-Walking-Tour/d626-2994GRAND?mcid=56757
After the tour, we ate lunch in the area and walked along the Quartier du Petit Champlain. Quartier du Petit Champlain is claimed to be the oldest commercial district in North America. It is named for Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608.
We went inside the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec ("Our Lady of Quebec City"), the primatial church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec. It is the oldest church in Canada and was the first church in Canada to be elevated to the rank of minor basilica, by Pope Pius IX in 1874.
Then we went to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, which is an Anglican Church. After shopping some in the area, we went back to the church for their 5:00 PM Evensong service. They had a small choir and the organ was played during the service. The service was in English.
[Monday] A cold front came through in the night and this morning it was in the 50's outside, and the wind was blowing about 35-40 mph. It was very uncomfortable to be outside, but we had scheduled a Guided Tour of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. This impressive structure on the top of the hill is a hotel with 610 rooms.
The Chateau Frontenac is in Old Quebec, within the historic district's Upper Town, on the southern side of Place d'Armes. It was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway company and opened in 1893.
The Chateauesque-styled building has 18 floors; its 262-foot height is augmented by the 177 ft elevation it sits at. It is one of the first completed grand railway hotels, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981. The hotel was expanded on three occasions, with the last major expansion taking place in 1993. It is probably the most impressive building in North America, but I didn't think the inside lived up to the outside.
Here is information on the tour by the tour operator:
Tread among the rich and famous on this 1-hour tour of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. A knowledgable local guide, interpreting a historical character, will lead you through one of Quebec's most iconic buildings, which has hosted numerous dignitaries throughout its history. After meeting at Dufferin Terrace (next to Chateau Frontenac) you'll get a primer of the outside of the building before heading inside to see the rest. A small-group tour ensures a more personalized experience.
* A 1-hour tour of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City
* Learn about the building's history from a local guide interpreting a historical character
* Chose from several convenient tour times throughout the day Tread in the footsteps of famous dignitaries
Read more about Guided Tour of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City - https://www.viator.com/tours/Quebec-City/Guided-Tour-of-the-Fairmont-Le-Chateau-Frontenac/d626-21799P3?mcid=56757
We took a taxi back to the hotel and rested. For supper we went across the street to the London Jack Restaurant and ate fish and chips.
[Tuesday] Kay didn't have a good night's sleep so we ate breakfast in the hotel cafe and rested in our room until 10:30 AM, then took Uber to the Plains of Abraham. The large open field is where The Battle of the Plains of Abraham was fought. The battle, which began in September 1759, was fought by the British Army against the French Army, just outside the walls of Quebec City on land that was originally owned by a farmer named Abraham Martin, hence the name of the battle. The battle involved fewer than 10,000 troops in total, but proved to be a deciding moment in the conflict between France and Britain over the fate of New France. The British won, which influenced the later creation of Canada.
We then walked to the building where, on the 31st floor, they have Observatoire La Capitol. You can get a 360 degree view of the city from above.
Afterwards, we walked to near the Parliament Building and we plan to visit tomorrow. It was too late for today. We then walked through the Saint Louis Gate into the old city and down to the Chateau Frontenac. We caught a taxi back to our hotel and ate dinner in the hotel restaurant.
[Wednesday] This morning it was 43 degrees, but no wind. To get a little variety, we ate breakfast at a restaurant across the street in a Best Western Plus hotel.
We then took Uber to the Parliament House and did the self guided tour. We were able to go throughout the building, but couldn't take photos in the meeting hall that their state government was meeting in. There was a duplicate room that was open for photographs. There waslots of security, of course.
We walked up to the Citadel, which sits on a high cliff overlooking the river, and decided that we didn't want to invest the time required to see it, which was only by guided tour 2 hours later that day. England constructed the Citadel in 1820 to protect Canada from their neighbor to the south - The United States. Charles Dickens call Quebec City "the Gibraltar of America."
We walked down Rue Saint-Louis and stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We then walked to Place Royal and down to where the cruise ships dock. We continued to walk around the area and when we got tired, we took Uber back to the hotel.
We went across the street and had soup and a latte for dinner.
[Thursday] Today, the weather was nice and we had scheduled a tour for the afternoon. The tour was the Half-Day Trip to Montmorency Falls and Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre from 1:00 pm to 5:00pm.
Unfortunately, this was perhaps the worst tour we've ever taken. The main problem was that the bus was a double-decker and held almost 80 people - mostly overweight Americans. The tour stopped at a Chocolate Factory and then at a Copper Factory before it stopped at the cathedral and the waterfall. They wasted 2 hours at those business sites. That cut short the time for the cathedral and the waterfall. Then, at the end of the tour, we had to ride in the bus as they delivered the cruise ship passengers to their ship. If we had known about the details of this tour, we could have rented a car and drove to the sites and had a much better experience. Lesson learned!
The guide/bus driver was actually very good. He did the best he could with what he was given. I'm sure many people thought it was a wonderful tour. The church and waterfall were well worth seeing, but just not via such a big bus tour.
Here is information on the tour by the tour operator:
Escape to the beautiful countryside around Quebec City on this half-day adventure to Montmorency Falls and the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre. Choose from a morning or afternoon tour experience, then explore the spectacular landscape just outside Quebec City. Along the way, visit popular Beaupre Coast tourist attractions like the Chocolaterie de l'Ile d'Orleans and the Cuivres D'Art Albert Gilles (copper art museum).
* Half-day trip to Montmorency Falls and Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre
* See Quebec's spectacular countryside and Beaupre Coast
* Visit the Isle of Orleans chocolaterie and Albert Gilles Copper Art Museum
* Professional bilingual guide
Read more about Half-Day Trip to Montmorency Falls and Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré from Quebec city - https://www.viator.com/tours/Quebec-City/Half-Day-Trip-to-Montmorency-Falls-and-Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre-from-Quebec/d626-3455T2?mcid=56757
[Friday] We left Canada today. We got up at 5:45am this morning and took a taxi to the train station. We boarded the VIA Rail train #35 and left Quebec City at 8:10 am. We arrived in Montreal about 11:45 am and ate lunch at the train station. We then took a taxi to the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport and checked our bags and went through customs. We waited in the gate area until our Air Canada flight AC581, an Airbus A220-300, boarded for our 5:00 PM flight.
This draws to a close our brief trip to Quebec, Canada. We hope you enjoyed the photos and brief descriptions of our activities. God willing, join us again soon for another travel adventure.
Goodbye for now,
Lawson & Kay
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:2-3 NKJV)