Earlier this fall, I shared photos from our visit to the 400-year-old town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and our rainy walk through New Hampshire’s Flume Gorge. I still have pictures from downtown Boston and the Boston Freedom Trail, as well as Lexington and Concord, but first I want to share the details of our time in Quebec City. It was chilly (40F, 5C) and windy, but we spent the entire day walking through Old Quebec and had a blast. Old Quebec City is surrounded by a wall. You can usually walk along the ramparts (photo above), but due to construction, large portions were closed during our visit.
Before leaving our hotel (Hotel Plaza Quebec–a well-priced, modern hotel located about 15 minutes from the old city) that morning, we decided two things: 1. We weren’t going to stress about having to see every little thing. 2. We wanted to indulge in as many different authentic foods as possible. Since we were on our feet walking for six hours, we didn’t feel too bad about No. 2. I was about 27 weeks pregnant during our trip, and while I was tired at the end of the day, it felt good to get out and walk.
Our first order of business was to eat breakfast at Le Petit Chateau, which sits next to the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (photo below), a grand, iconic hotel that was built in 1893. (Its appearance reminded us of the 1888 Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, which we saw on our Banff trip last summer.)
I was appalled when I heard that Mr. Handsome had never experienced the deliciousness of crepes, so we ordered two–one filled with ham and cheese and one filled with blueberries and cream. They tasted even better than they looked.
Adjacent to the Fairmont hotel is a boardwalk called Dufferin Terrace, under which are the archaeological remains of Chateau Saint-Louis. On that site in 1620, Samuel de Champlain built Fort Saint-Louis, which was eventually enlarged to become the residence of the first official governor of New France in 1648. Until the final Chateau Saint-Louis burned down in 1834, it underwent many changes and was home to almost all of the governors, some French and some British.
The archaeological site was very impressive, and there were tons of signs in both French and English providing background history. We saw the remains of an ice house from 1800…
…A hearth from the late 1760s…
And storage cellars from 1694…
Archaeologists have excavated around one million artifacts from the site. Oddly enough, the latrine pits have been especially great places to find objects because they were also used by Chateau residents as garbage pits. One of the most significant artifacts is this perfectly preserved women’s hatpin.
For the rest of the morning, our walk took us to the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. Under the cathedral is an ossuary (closed to the public) where it is estimated that the remains of around 1,000 people are buried, including some governors and possibly even Samuel de Champlain.
Next to the cathedral is Quebec Seminary, the oldest boys’ educational institute in Canada, which dates back to 1663. The large courtyard, shown below, has been the center of recreation for students for more than 300 years.
Before venturing down to Lower Town–the oldest part of Quebec City and what I thought was the most unique (photos coming soon)–we shared poutine at Pub Saint-Patrick. Although the restaurant wasn’t established until recently, the building, according to our waiter, was built in 1749. He told us that it has housed many different establishments over the years, including the first five-star French restaurant in Quebec and an armory.
The streets around Saint-Patrick were narrow and reminded me of the walled cities I visited in Germany as a child.
My husband recognized some of the pictures as he has visited Quebec as he has family living in Gatineau, Aylmer & Hull.
Very neat, Marilyn. Several years ago, I flew into Ottawa and drove up to Mont Tremblant to go skiing. The Quebec countryside during winter was like a winter wonderland–too beautiful for words. I would love to see more of the province during spring, summer, or fall.
Thank you for your travel tour of old Quebec City. I’m from the the central region of Canada and I went east and was there for one afternoon in the late fall also but a long time ago. My visit doesn’t nearly compare to yours, and I appreciate seeing and learning more about it from you! At least I did pick up on the really old time atmosphere when I was there!
Glad you enjoyed the post! It’s a fabulous city.
what beautiful pictures! i absolutely love old stone. it’s so homey and comforting to me for some odd reason, lol.
my dad’s paternal grandmother was from quebec. one of my grandfathers brothers attended a seminary in quebec & died along with the other boys that swam in a body of water there, of typhoid fever. he was only 16 so it would be about 1920-ish. i wonder if it is the same seminary you visited? wouldnt that be something!
looking forward to more travel pics!
Thanks for sharing your connection to Quebec. Very sad about your grandfather’s brother. I wonder if it was the same seminary. Could have easily been, as I’m sure there weren’t too many in the province at that time. Do you live in Eastern Canada?
no i dont, but my great grandmother (my father’s paternal gm) was from quebec. everyone else was from nova scotia. my dads mom, my nana, used to talk about nova scotia all the time and would go back to visit often. one of her uncles had a place they called ‘the old homestead’ that was kept in the family and he took care of, so any family member visiting would have a place to stay! one of my original ancestors that i can trace my genealogy back to, was one of the original people sent from france, who settled acadia, which is now known as nova scotia and part of maine. it’s definitely a place i would love to see in person! the pictures i’ve seen through my genealogy and online look as beautiful as my nana remembered!
That’s fascinating, Darlene! We went to Acadia National Park on our way from Quebec City back to Boston. Beautiful area.
My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Quebec City 6 years ago. It is such a beautiful and romantic city! We ate at pub St Patrick too, but we didn’t know about the history of the building. Thank you for this (as always) very interresting post! I really enjoy reading your blogs. I wish you are well in these last weeks of your pregnancy. I am sending prayers for a healthy baby and a healthy mama. (please, forgive my english, french is my first language)
Quebec City would be a great place for a honeymoon. I’m sure yours was wonderful, Marie. Thank you so much for your prayers. I look forward to sharing photos when he is born. And your English is very good! I wouldn’t have been able to tell that it’s not your first language if you hadn’t mentioned it. 🙂
My son lived and worked in Quebec for a number of years. While it may look quaint and historic and inviting, the political atmosphere is anything but. There’s the constant undertow of the Quebec Sovereignty Movement, which comes to a head every so often. My son felt that outsiders living there were not welcomed with open arms. He was happy to move away when his work was completed. It’s nice that the province has preserved their history, but their future is still being forged, in a politically turbulent way.
I am not comfortable going into pubs even if the food is highly recommend due to the behavior that often takes place in them. Was it better going during the day time?
Oh I thought you had poutine in the pub. Considering it has lots of history it probably would have been worth the look inside.
For a minute, I was thinking about another old restaurant/pub that I didn’t mention in this post but will mention when I post the remainder of my Quebec City photos. (Pregnancy brain I guess, lol–we didnt’ go inside the second one.) I edited my comment above to answer your question.
I tend to agree, Deborah. 🙂 It was the middle of the day, and there was hardly anyone in there. We ate at a table in the back, away from the bar. It’s a very large restaurant with lots of little rooms.
I’m from Québec city. I’m glad you liked it! It’s fun to see my town from a tourist perspective. Have you try poutine?
It’s always a pleasure to read your blog.
You have a beautiful city! Do you live right in the city or outside it? We did have poutine. I had had it before, but this was better.
LOVE your little history lessons! And I would love to see Quebec someday!
I am on the south shore of Quebec city, i really liked your pictures and description, thanks from ouf lovely city and happy you enjoyed it.
Thanks for commenting, Johanne! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I love your city.
Canada, is a very special place, and I am 100% proud of Canada!!!
I’m from Montreal, Quebec and I loved reading your perspective on Quebec City since I’ve been to the places that you described. I’ve been following your different blogs for years so it’s nice to see that you visited a place near where I live.
I’m glad that you enjoyed your trip 🙂
Hope you still gt a chance to rest with your baby boy almost on its way.
Happy New Year to you and your family ! It will be a great one I’m sure. Being a (first time) mom is a wonderful adventure!