We lived in Québec for about 3 years without visiting Québec City (or the wonderfully redundant Québec, Québec) but with plenty of good intentions. This summer, we finally managed to make the 3-hour drive for a much needed weeekend away shortly before our move. We stayed at the Auberge St. Antoine, which I mention only to point out that it’s quite possibly the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in (it’s expensive but we managed to score a cut rate).
The Aueberge — and most of the tourist attractions — are situated in the old town, which is like Old Montreal. I’m not a fan of Old Montreal. The streets are beautiful, the buildings light up nicely at night, but everything’s overpriced and the whole place just seems like an exercise in facadism in that the old buildings are intact only on the outside. On the inside, it’s basically a giant shopping mall with everything from kitch to upscale consumer goods. Of course, while facadism is messed up, so is its critique, since very old buildings quite often go through many different uses in their lifetimes. Anyway, Old Québec was at least new and worth a walk around and a ride up and down the funicular.
At the top of the hill we encountered the real Chateau Frontenac (for those not local, we’d given our old rental loft on Frontenac the nickname “Chateau Frontenac” for party invites and such). We didn’t stay at the Chateau Frontenac mostly because it was expensive and not well-reviewed on trip advisor, which is a site I read religiously.
and here’s “our” Chateau Frontenac (we lived on the 2nd floor):
One day was spent wandering around Québec City, the other was spent driving around the adjacent area, which includes ÃŽle d’Orléans, an island that remains mostly undeveloped and is also the source of a good bit of the produce we pick up in the summer at farmers’ markets. It has, of course, also been touristified, so we were able to drive around the island, sample some of the local food and see how maple syrup is made (the lecture was in French, which started out as intelligible because the guy kept it slow for us. Then he sped up . . . .).
On the way back, we visited Montmorency Falls, which locals like to point out is 30m higher than Niagara Falls — but not as big. There’s a footpath you can take to scale the top of the falls. I took the following two shots from directly over the falls. The first looks back at the placid-looking river which suddenly accelerates and the yellow warning rope, which basically says “if you’re floating by in a barrel, you might want to switch directions now.” The second shot is 180 degrees in the other direction, with me leaning over the handrail on the bridge over the falls looking straight down to watch the water plunge.