In Quebec City, we stayed for 2 nights at the Auberge du Trésor just across from Château Frontenac, which is a Fairmont Hotel and one of the iconic landmarks of the city. It’s a magnificent building which first opened in 1893 overlooking the St Lawrence River. The site of our hotel is an inn with a dazzling red roof (a feature many building around Quebec) sits situated on one of the earliest location for France's military encampments dating from 1640. The first house was erected on the site in 1713 and some of the walls and vaults still remain.
The history of Quebec City is fascinating and it is well worth visiting the Musée du Fort to see the light and sound to see historical great battles of Québec between the English and the French. Amazingly, the battle in which General Wolfe defeated the French at the Plains of Abrahams in 1759 and shaped the future of North America, lasted less than 30 minutes.
The centre of the city and along the St Lawrence River foreshore has many historic buildings and sites. There has been a lot of preservation making it really a cool and fun place. The Old town is especially lively and has some great restaurants. A great way to see the city is by taking the commuter ferry across the river and looking back towards the Château Frontenac
The National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec is the main gallery in Quebec City and is made up of 3 connecting pavilions. While we were there, there was an exhibition of 4 of Quebec’s greatest ever artists, Clarence Gagnon, Jean Paul Lemieux, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Émile Borduas – very impressive. Also, the gallery has an outstanding collection of Inuit Art.
After a couple of days in Quebec City we picked up our car and moved into the cottage which we had rented. This was at St-Brigitte-de-Laval about 25 min north of the city. Our cottage was on the Montmorency River, a large fast flowing river that flows into the St Lawrence about 20 km downstream. We were able to unpack and to relax and had this as a base to explore the surrounding areas.
A couple of times we went to the Île d'Orléans which is an island in the St Lawrence River - 34 kms by 8 kms. The island has many beautiful houses right on the water and some reasonable galleries. The northern part of the island is mainly farming and surprisingly, for an area that has a pretty severe winter, has a winery that produces 2 whites, 2 red and of course, “Ice Wine”, the sticky dessert wine similar to botrytis wine.
The day trip we did was north along the St Lawrence where there are a number of small villages known for their wooden buildings, art galleries and shops. The major city along the way is Baie-St-Paul which has many commercial galleries. Travelling with Sue means visiting galleries but it is actually a great way to plan a trip and see lots of the countryside – like visiting wineries in Napa or the Hunter Valley.
The major attraction near our cottage was the Montmorency Falls which is where the river runs into the St Lawrence. The falls are reasonably large but the impressive thing is the amount of water flowing. We climbed to the top of the falls on the wooden staircase which was quite a feat for Sue considering that she is scared of heights. At the top of the falls there is a spectacular view of the falls as well as panoramic views of Île d'Orléans and back to Quebec City.
After 7 relaxing days, we took off to visit Nova Scotia.