On the more than 13-hour drive from Lansing to Quebec City we worked on my French. And by "worked on" I mean my husband said phrases, I repeatedly them horribly and then got frustrated and turned up the radio. We were tested while stopping for dinner and attempting to convey our food order to the young woman who did not speak English. It wasn't pretty, but we ended up with food - even the right thing we ordered. My husband took French in high school, but he was rusty. I starred blankly at the girl speaking French and then blankly at my husband until someone made something work. I'm very helpful like that.
It was around 9 pm on a Monday when we drove into Quebec City, and it was love at first sight...or first street design is more like it. As we exited the freeway into the city we didn't find eight sprawling lanes of traffic like we have here in Michigan, but more narrow streets with crosswalks and bus lanes. It turned into a lovely boulevard with beautiful houses on either side of the street. And then we drove down Grande Allee toward our hotel, and I looked at my husband and said, "Shut up. This is amazing." It was late evening on a Monday, and people were everywhere. The street narrowed and then suddenly became one way with little (or no? I'm not sure) warning.
I was so tired after the drive that I'd proclaimed we were going to bed early, but after I saw the city I knew we had to go explore. We checked into our quaint auberge (inn) on the fabulously designed Rue Saint-Louis and headed out to check things out. We were just a few blocks from the world renowned Chateau Frontenac, and we headed there to see what was happening. Again, let me reiterate, now nearly 10 pm, people everywhere. Amazing. We walked in neighborhoods around our hotel and discovered the street blocked off a few streets from our hotel. Rue Saint-Jean had people walking everywhere, terraces filled, and my heart nearly exploded with city happiness.
|Rue Saint-Jean. 10 pm on a Monday. In love.|
|Historic Chateau Frontenac near our hotel|
|Square near the Chateau. So beautiful.|
|Rue Saint-Louis, right by our hotel|
|Looking down to Lower City|
|The quaint Rue Petit Champlain|
|Lest you think I made it up.|
We browsed, took photos and walked around throughout the morning before heading up to check out the Canada Day celebration at city hall. The Governor of Quebec was there, and the military was out in full force. Several passed out during the ceremony because of the heat, and they have a fancy goat as their mascot. Honestly...I can't make this stuff up. The Canadian military is legit. (Did that come off as almost sincere?)
|This is a goat in a fancy cape. Seriously.|
|Canadian soldiers lined up outside city hall|
That evening was the first of several delicious dinners, this one at Bistro 1640 in the heart of the city. After a warm day it was perfect evening for crisp sauvignon blanc, a delicious duck breast, and the company of my favorite guy. We discovered that despite our fears many in Quebec City spoke English. My husband's French improved over the days we were there. I discovered that if I starred blankly at someone speaking French to me they would adjust and speak English. Winning.
|In front of the Chateau heading to dinner|
|A delicious white wine on a hot summer night.|
Running was also critical because my husband was on the search for poutine. Poutine is a decidedly Quebec dish that tops French fries with cheese curds and gravy. I can get behind the gravy, but cheese curds are squeaky. And gross. I was not loving the poutine, but my husband was happy.
|My poutine face.|
|Suspension bridge over the falls|
|What...these little stairs?|
|I like to jump in front of stuff. It's my thing.|
|How about a closer look?|
|Who wears white shorts to a waterfall? This girl.|
Thursday was our last full day in Quebec, and it was flawless. It was also the celebration of the City of Quebec's 406th birthday, so there was a lot going on. In the morning we perused the antiques district in Lower City before heading back city hall for more military ceremony and to check out the weird goat mascot. We then headed toward Grande Allee for lunch. This street is so well designed for public space - restaurants and terraces everywhere. It appears that they removed a lane of traffic on each side to accommodate terraces. The street is narrow, cars move slowly, and it's a great space for pedestrians, bikes and cars. We had lunch on a terrace before heading to The Running Room, a local running store chain. It was about a kilometer walk to Rue Cartier which was another greet street with lots of shops, restaurants and people on foot and bike.
|Lunch on Grande Allee|
|An old hotel turned hospital.|
|The face of a church saved for a condo development. Gorgeous.|
Following the obligatory running shirt purchase we headed to the Quebec Parliament Building for a tour. We ran into our friends from Lansing who just happened to be there as well. Parliament was in session, and we got to observe a bit of it. It was fascinating for us political nerds (our friend is also a lobbyist) to check out how their government works. It's quieter than ours. And more orderly.
On our last night we had an insanely amazing dinner at Chez Boulay. I don't even remember what was in the appetizer we had except she mentioned some kind of melty cheese and venison terrine. Yes, please. It was melty and amazing. I wanted to drink it. I had duck again for dinner, and my husband had bison cheek. The food was just so decadent, and I didn't want it to end.
We stumbled out of dinner to art on the street and people everywhere. Quebec City was entering the start of a five day festival to celebrate its birthday. The evening was flawless, and it was the perfect capstone to a lovely few days in Quebec City.
|Art on the street and reflected on the city's wall|
|The most beautiful sunset ever.|