D’accord. Ok. I’m not sure this one will be very coherent. I ordered the Limonade de Capitaine for supper and it is a 16-ounce drink, 4 of which are alcohol. That is about 3 oz over my limit for coherence. So I will do my best to tell a story that is somewhat progressive in nature!
We asked for our breakfast to be brought earlier that originally requested so we could take an early ferry to Quebec City and catch the bus tour of the Plains of Abraham. Breakfast was delivered at 8:00 a.m. by the gentleman who operates our B&B. After laying out our dishes and food, he looked at me and asked “Are you Irish?” Surprised, I said “yes”. He said my eyes are a blue that he has noticed are unique to the Irish. Never had that one before, though people frequently ask me if I am originally from England – something about my speech patterns. Well, I guess I am, even if it is several generations back. So, it was kind of interesting to be identified as Irish.
We left the suite by 8:40 a.m. and my new dress appeared to be the correct choice, as the day was already heating up and quite humid. Arriving in the city in good time, we had an opportunity to take a photo in the umbrella street with no other people there! I also made a note for later that there was a fudge shop there!
Dragging our sorry butts up the big hill again, we made our way to the Plains of Abraham visitor centre and bought tickets for the bus tour through the park. The park was created in 1908 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Quebec. We had some time to explore the museum before boarding for the tour, which was a good idea as the day was now hot and the bus was air conditioned. The tour bus guide was very entertaining. Her character was that of Marguerite Martin, the wife of Abraham Martin (Plains of Abraham….). Their son Eustache was the first baby to be born in New France. She told the story of New France and the lifestyle of the people. Reaching the site of the battle, she told a very animated and entertaining story of the battle. Long story short, the French thought they were invincible behind their walled city and cliff of rock. But a troop of Scottish highlanders showed the English a secret path into the plains that would allow an attack on the French. When warned of the approaching army, the Marquis de Montcalm did not really believe it and took a small core of professional militia, along with a troop of mostly un-disciplined militia to check it out. The inexperience of these troops led to chaos and a battle that lasted less than 30 minutes, resulting in a complete victory for the English. Despite subsequent attempts, Quebec was never recaptured and Canada was eventually surrendered to the English.
A bonus of this tour was that the bus dropped us off at the Martello tower exhibit. Four of these towers were constructed at Quebec by the English as a first line of defense against any potential invasion by the US. These towers were constructed with munitions store in the lower level for gunpowder storage, a barracks in the second floor for the soldiers stationed there, and a watchtower and gun floor at the top so cannon could be fired at the enemy to deter their advance. We were given an iPad at this site to follow a map and have it explain to us what life was like in a Martello Tower. It was very well done and we were glad we had jumped off the bus. Since we wanted to see the tower anyway, getting off the bus meant we could walk down the hill to the visitor centre instead of up the hill to the tower – an important consideration in the heat and humidity. Strolling back towards the visitor centre, we were able to get a couple of photos of the plains that we were not able to take through the windows of the bus.
Making our way back into the old city, we passed by the other side of the parliament buildings and I took some more photos of statues on the grounds, including the first women to demand the vote in Quebec.
By this time, all the arm-raising to take photos had made us a bit peckish. Recalling the creperie we had seen on our way up to the Plains of Abraham, we found it again and went in for lunch. It was worth the stop for my cheese and mushroom crepe. Guylaine had a salad and I would have felt bad about her healthy choice if she hadn’t ordered a chocolate hazelnut crepe for dessert. Luckily for me, she shared it and it was to die for.
While we were beginning to feel tired from our tramping around, we wanted to see a few more things before calling it a day. So we booked ourselves into a tour of the Chateau Frontenac. This was a guided tour, en Francais, which was a challenge for me. I can pick out the general meaning of the stories the guy was telling as long as I was concentrating. However, I was frequently distracted by the surroundings, so it was a feast for the eyes more than the mind. Guylaine graciously translated key bits for me so I at least could nod and smile intelligently. 😊
Leaving the Chateau Frontenac, we thought we would wander by the seminary that was beside the Basilique Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec. This structure is now the architectural department of the Universite Laval. When we entered the courtyard, it was certainly a WOW moment. Upon entering through the archway, a gentleman was watering the plants around the buildings. I commented, in English (forgetting to attempt my bad French), that he must find it almost irresistible to spray the tourists as they went by. He did understand me, though, and denied such compulsions, which makes him a better person than me. His name was Michel and he provided us with some information about the seminary and its grounds. Then he asked if we would like to see an area that not everyone gets to see. Of course, we agreed! Truly the highlight of our day, he took us into the building where the old stone floors and archways took us back to another time. One of the rooms we saw used to be the butchery – the meat hooks still in the ceiling where they hung the animals. We followed down a long stone corridor and back outside to the rear where there were private grounds between the buildings. Michel told us about a street or two that were not to be missed on our way back and we were very grateful to have met him and had a little personal tour - thank you Michel!
We found the street of antiques and local artists recommended by Michel. In seeing the vintage stores, I thought of Tracey and how much she would have enjoyed that. The whole of old Quebec would have been just her style, actually. I left a few ashes there for her and wished she was with me.
The lower area of the old city was beginning to fill up with small kiosks of vendors. Some were in period costume and have a variety of neat things for sale. We wandered around the streets a bit more, but as they began to get crowded, we sat down for a rest while pondering our next course of action. A return to Le Fudgerie was imperative and so we decided to re-visit that street and then have dinner. It was a good thing we visited the fudge shop before dinner because there is no telling how much money I might have spent in there under the influence of a limonade du Capitaine!
We wrapped up our day at the Sapristi Bistro and Bar for dinner. This is the scene of the limonade du Capitaine crime. Apparently, I have a very poor idea of what a 16 oz drink looks like. Our server extraordinaire, Cynthia, fortunately had the sense of humour required to put up with our shenanigans and my bad French. She is a fellow traveller, having gone travelling with the intention of being away 3 months and the reality of being away 4 years! That travel bug is a dangerous thing. I left her an Explore My Nation card with the blog site just in case she wants to check out a new adventure.
It is doubtful that I have an objective opinion, but I don’t think I staggered to the ferry. We boarded without incident and made it back to our room. It is time to sift through the million photos I took again today. My phone died before the day was quite over and so there are also photo creds due to Guylaine, who has graciously shared hers with me so you can enjoy the remainder of our day!
A demain, mes amis!