So having tasted a bit of winter weather in the Rockies, it was nice to head to Quebec City for a bit of sun.
Like every journey we’ve taken on this trip, moving from one place to another has taken long days with long stopovers in airports or stations. For QC, it was up at 4 for arrival at the airport at 5.30, for a 7am flight. Add in a couple of time zones and a long wait in Montreal for our last flight and Voila! The whole day is gone and we are looking like warmed up slop!!
But we were very happy with our accommodation in Les Lofts St Joseph in Saint Roch, a gentrifying suburb just outside the ramparts and the old town. The apartment was large and lofty and very comfortable. It even had a little roof garden with a panoramic view of the city which was lovely for a late afternoon drink after a warm day’s touristing. The supermarket was at the end of the street, restaurants down the road, and the Vieux Port and Old City not far, as the crow flies. But HOLY MOLY was it a hefty hike up those ramparts!
Originally the city was a fort/citadel high above the St Lawrence river. It’s the old town that is of most interest. Overall though we found Quebec City a little too staid and conservative for our tastes. While clearly I knew this was French Canada, I didn’t know that Quebec City only speaks French. Many of the people have little English unlike in Montreal which is far more of a dual language city. All signs are in French, no secondary English or concessions. This is the epicentre of French Canada in so many ways.
There was nothing wrong with it just nothing very exciting about it. It certainly didn’t have the interesting vibe that Montreal or Vancouver has, or even the vibe in some provincial French towns.
But the foooooood was gooooood!
Our first night after the torrid journeys of the day, it was great to eat about 400 metres down the road at Les Sale Gosses. Staff who knew their food well and had enough English to cope with tired Aussies. The next night ended up with us sharing our yummy French cheeses and pates (bought that morning at the market) with a couple from the same apartment building whom we met on the roof garden.
Our best meal of the trip so far was at a VERY nice little place called Le Saint Amour. We shared a platter of foie gras served 5 different ways, and was like a journey through styles of innovation in serving this yummy dish. Tiny delicate aspic cubes and sweetish and sourish accompaniments! Even a foie gras brulee! Phil had steak and I had Red deer as our main courses, both of which were sublime. Just a fabulous night! And at least there, they didn’t call the first course “appetisers” and the main course “entrée”! That’s driving me crazy, everywhere we go! And makes NO SENSE. And if you say main course they look blank until you tell them that’s what you want for “entrée”, or even correct you with “you mean entrée”! How on earth did that get into the language?? Quite farcical.
Interestingly despite the conservatism, we found some interesting public art, a terrific trompe l’oeil depicting some of the historical scenes of the city and a few bits of street art around. So all was not totally lost. We also stumbled upon a game of petanque being played on a piece of dusty ground on the street. Very French moment! However Phil was deeply disillusioned at the fact that there were no door knockers on these old buildings. I was a bit sad about that too, because I like them, but seeing there were also no gargoyles I was truly grateful! Note to self, must check Dr Google to see if these obsessions of his qualify for treatment!
Montreal on the other hand was a short overnight visit, so we could be in time for the train the next morning. However, we had enough time after our arrival to go and see an exhibition of Canon International Press Photography winning photos. It was both beautiful and intensely saddening a lot of the time with so many press photographs focusing on disasters, poverty, and other seemingly unchangeable situations.
Despite that we were able to go and have another good meal and sleep in another sweet hotel at confirming for ourselves that we had boo-booed badly by putting the time into Quebec City and not Montreal.
Next we're in New England!