Quebec City

A city on a cliff. Cobblestone streets. Cheese, chocolate, and coffee. Le francais.

Quebec City

J’adore Quebec.

This past August (I know – a wee bit late!) was our fourth trip to Canada in three years, but our first time staying in Quebec City. I love to travel and I love sharing my experiences with others. I often find, though, that I quickly forget everything we did – at least the details. I made sure to take copious notes this time around regarding where we stayed, where we ate, what we did, etc.

Kevin and I are most certainly budget travelers, so nothing we do is ever super fancy unless it was a gift or we have good reason to splurge. We do not dine out much, but rather hit up markets and get snacks to make up meals here and there.

IMG_3755

Our first night, we stayed in Auberges de Basilique– a little inn right across from the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre. For a decent price, you get a nice room with a private bathroom and free wifi (option to have breakfast included). It also has a stunning view of the shrine when you walk out front. We spent some time at the shrine, which is of course, simply magnificent. A majestic place that is built to draw us into prayer and devotion. My favorite parts are just gazing up at the ceiling and trying to decipher the french written all around.

Since the shrine is about 40 minutes away from downtown Quebec City, we decided to spend the remaining nights in La Cité-Limoilou, just a 25-30 minute walk from the old city. We used Airbnb to find the apartment we stayed in, and it could not have worked out better. Talk about a phenomenal alternative to an expensive hotel! The apartment we stayed in was perfect, we had a nice kitchen to cook most of our meals (avoiding the cost of dining out!), a great touchdown place not too far from the places we wanted to go, and free parking and wifi.

It did rain off and on while we were visiting, but luckily the sun poked out intermittently as well. One morning, we got up early and headed down to Le Chateau Frontenac (most photographed hotel in the world!). It was early on a Wednesday, so the place was all but deserted, which made for a peaceful stroll. I love the Fairmont brand. Their hotels, including the Chateau, really are the epitome of luxury to me. So that landmark is most certainly worth seeing!

IMG_3778

From the Chateau (which is located in upper town), we walked down to lower town. I’ll be honest when I say that Kevin and I are not great city travelers. While of course I’d have no problem filling my time in a place like Rome, Paris, London, etc, many cities prove difficult for us to find “things to do.” We don’t shop much (it’s expensive), we don’t love museums, we don’t go to shows, and we’re not much for drinking. So what is it that we do?

Well, it looks different depending on the place, but here we planted ourselves on the patio of the most quaint little coffee shop, La Maison Smith, in the Place de Royale for some people watching, architecture admiring, journaling, and in Kevin’s case, drawing. It was the perfect choice. I got a fancy latte and Kevin got a tasty croissant. And as we continued our exploring of both lower & upper town, we found plenty of adorable shops & restaurants. Nobody should be left wanting when wandering around these parts.

Since some of the day was rainy, we took some time to drive around the coast of Quebec City and taking in the views of the St. Lawrence river.

The next day, we continued exploring upper town since it really is quite big. This included more shops – some were incredibly unique. We stopped in the oldest grocery store in North America, Épicerie J.A. Moisan, still in operation – lots of novelty items as well as your typical grocery products.

IMG_3845

We spent the remainder of our afternoon walking around the Citadel (since Quebec City was/is the oldest fortified city in North America). Inside the fortress is a museum (for a fee), but we opted to just walk above on the fortress walls. We had a gorgeous day combined with the most grand perspective of the city. Walking around the citadel offered some truly amazing views. A perfect place for a picnic!

IMG_3881

After a late afternoon stop at the apartment for some nourishment & rest, we went out again and decided to take the ferry from Quebec to Levis. It leaves from the vieux-port (in lower town) and costs just 3,50 per person (one way)! We took it in the evening during a striking golden hour, and I’d say it was worth it just for the chance to see Quebec City from the water. Levis seems like it could have some interesting things to do, but not in the evening (everything was closed!). We instead took a long walk up MANY steps to see a high-point view of the river.

Our last full day we were very excited because we planned to go to Ile d’Orleans. This is a little island in between Quebec City and the mainland (Beaupre being one of the towns), with one bridge on/off – only open from 9am-9pm (free to visit)! It’s pretty much completely countryside, focused very much on agriculture and tourism. It was the most intriguing little place I’d ever seen! The island is quite long and took us about and hour and a half to drive around fully (with one brief stop at first). Beautiful fields, little farm homes with red doors & shutters, and incredible landscape at every stop. Our first drive around was in the rain, but the sun came out and thank goodness it did or we would have missed the entire point of our visit!

Nearly every house or farm you saw was open for business, selling all different kinds of goods! Blueberries, strawberries, chocolate, cheese, wine, iced cider, and more! We stopped in at multiple places and picked up a few things that we could not resist (I mean…one was the oldest fromagerie in America…and raw goat & sheep cheese? Can’t really get that around here!) Needless to say, I highly recommend this gem!

IMG_3889

Finally, since it was our last night, after stealing some last views of the old city, we went out for dinner downtown, in newer parts of the city (still beautiful, and less expensive). We chose to visit a place called Brynd Smoked Meat, and we were so happy with our choice. We split a delicious salad and some poutine (very generous portions!).

That pretty much sums it up. I’m always happy to answer any questions if you are planning a trip to Quebec! It’s a beautiful place with such wonderful culture. Au revoir!

 

Quebec, again.

This post is long overdue and will do not justice to the beauty that was our trip to Quebec, but I will try! We had been longing to go back to Quebec since our initial pilgrimage in 2013, but there just hasn’t been an ideal time until now. We lovelovelove Canada and try to go once a year (last year we went for our honeymoon). We were unsure if this trip was going to happen because finances are a bit tight, but we felt at peace with going and ta-daaaaa the Lord provided in many ways this month. God is good.

We started the drive up Friday evening and stopped for the night in Stowe, VT (stayed at the Stowe Inn with a groupon – so charming!). It broke up the long drive which was great, and we had a very relaxing trip up Saturday morning through the wonderful greenery and mountains of Northern New England. We crossed the border with no issues (not that there would be…it just always makes me nervous) and there we were!

A wee little stop in Vermont
A wee little stop in Vermont
Votive Chapel at the Oratory
Votive Chapel at the Oratory

The weekend was on and off with the weather – rainy then sunny then cool then rainy. But it didn’t really matter to us. We spent good quality time at St. Joseph’s Oratory – and gosh, the second we stepped foot back in there it was a wave of peace. Walking through the Votive Chapel is an experience. There are several different statues of St. Joseph above different stations of votive candles – each with a different title of his (Protector of our Church, Consoler of the Afflicted, Pure in Heart, Patron of Families, Patron of the Sick & Dying, Terror of Demons, Model of Workers). Needless to say, there were many prayers to be prayed and many offerings to be made.  We spent much time off and on in this Chapel.

Brother Andre's Chapel
Brother Andre’s Chapel
The Oratory
The Oratory

We also were able to spend some beautiful time in prayer in Brother Andre’s Chapel. Brother Andre (now Saint Andre) was the one who had the Oratory built in honor of Saint Joseph; a very humble man and being in his chapel (alone, nonetheless) was a moving experience. It’s probably where I received the most consolation of the weekend.

Outside the shrine
Outside the shrine
St. Anne de Beaupre
St. Anne de Beaupre

There’s so much that could be said about the Oratory, but…just go. Just go and see it for yourself. This trip we were fortunate enough to also visit the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre just outside Quebec City. I had been wanting to visit this shrine for quite some time, but even I had no clue what was in store for me. Driving along the St. Lawrence river (delightful!), we pulled into the town of Ste. Anne-de-Beapre and soon saw what had to be the Shrine. It’s amazing – just off the main road being all stunning and what not!

Inside St. Anne's
Inside St. Anne’s

This Church took my breath away. Everything about it. Whoever built this Church had a true devotion to St. Anne. There is just so much detail, so much complexity, and it all is weaved together so effortlessly in this magnificent structure. The whole thing was a treat, but I was especially fond of the little side chapel holding a RELIC OF ST. ANNE (bone of her arm!). I mean, no big deal. After Mass (which we understood very little of, but being Catholic and all it’s usually fine since it’s all the same), the Priest came over to give us more details about the Shrine. He talked of the miracles he’s been present for that have occurred in front of the relic, and my goodness…it’s unbelievable (but also believable!). We were so grateful for our conversation with him; it helped us to appreciate even more about the Shrine that would have gone unnoticed by little old me!

There was also the outside areas which were so simple yet so incredible. There is one particular chapel that is host to a number of relics of the holy land – it has 28 stairs which pilgrims are meant to climb on their knees – each step in reparation for Christ’s passion (and many of the steps have the relics built into them)…uhhhhh-mazing. To sum it up, the short time we had at St. Anne’s was powerful. We were able to pray at the foot of her statue (said to be the place of many miracles) with the petitions weighing most on our hearts.

 

Montreal
Montreal
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.

The rest of the trip was more exploring Montreal and Quebec City. We had already seen most of Montreal that we enjoy – there are lovely parts (like Old Montreal, ohhhhh I love it), but there are also typical city parts…that I don’t particularly care for. Quebec City, though. Lurv it. Such charm. Such cuteness. The old city is huge and it is a feast for the eyes! Unfortunately, it was super rainy when we were there, but I still fell in love. And the Chateau Frontenac – ahhhhh the famous hotel that I read about in high school french class! It was a joy seeing it in person. Kevin and I decided that the next time we visit (which we will), we will reverse our itinerary and stay in Quebec City with a day trip to Montreal & the Oratory.

I hope to put together a mini Catholic Canadian travel guide soon (Kevin’s very encouraging of doing that) for all those dyyyyyying to visit. I hope I’ve sold everyone enough on this delightful province!