Long time, no talk!
I’m back from my short trip to Québec City, and I have tons of stories and photos to share with you all.
Let me start by saying that Québec City is absolutely beautiful! I’ve been to Europe twice now, once to London and parts of England and the other time to Italy, France and England, and I had always heard people claim that Québec City was a slice of Europe in Canada. I found this hard to believe because I just couldn’t picture the quaint, cobblestoned streets of Paris or London or Florence in my own home country, and although I’ve studied Québec City multiple times since my first years as a French student, it wasn’t at the top of my list of places to travel. I wanted to see all those places I’d dreamed of across the pond first. But my parents, especially my mom who lived for four years in Québec City, really wanted to take a family trip there, and we finally got around to it this year when my dad decided to sign up for the Québec City Marathon. I was very excited to finally visit this Canadian site I had heard so much about, particularly because I decided in recent years that I wanted to explore much more of my own country and the many different landscapes it has to offer. SS was invited to come along with me, my parents and my brother, and so I was beyond eager to explore and see a whole new city with all the people I love most. I still didn’t think it would be a little Europe though…my expectations weren’t that high!
Well, let me tell you, my expectations were met and FAR exceeded by the gorgeous Ville de Québec. It is, in fact, exactly like a town in Europe, except with the added benefit of being right in the country that I love most in the world. (Oh Canada!) As you can see from the photos above, the streets were extremely European in style, with houses lined up tightly together and streets and sidewalks made of cobblestone. The main street in the gated city was full of pubs and bakeries and cute cafés, and many of the small shops were very unique and unlike any I had seen anywhere else in Canada. SS especially fell in love with a Medieval store that sold real, authentic Medieval garments and jewellery. Everywhere you turned to look, there was a distinct character, a French culture that permeated every building, iron lamppost and horse-drawn carriage. It felt like stepping into another time period and I immediately became smitten. I could easily see myself living right in the heart of Québec City! (If only SS could speak French too! Mon Dieu!)
We all stayed in the Hotel Acadia, right on Rue Saint Ursule, within a 10 minute walk of all the great sites of the city. The hotel was definitely one of the highlights of the trip because the rooms were so quaint, rustic and antique, and it truly felt like I was getting to live inside one of my favourite Victorian novels. It was also so wonderful to hear the French language everywhere around me – although I get to use French almost every day at work, it was quite special to hear it spoken colloquially in the streets and feel totally immersed in another culture.
Among the highlights of the trip were a few of the tourist sites we visited in our four days there…
Sainte Anne de Beaupré
One of the sites my dad suggested visiting on our first full day in the city was the Basilica of Sainte Anne de Beaupré. An ornate and grand church located just 20 minutes outside of the downtown area, Ste Anne de Beaupré is a structure on par with all the great cathedrals of France. The church is opulently decorated with golds and scarlets, statues line every wall and crevice, and there is even a life-size set of wooden statues outside the church depicting the twelve Stations of the Cross. Although my family isn’t religious at all, we were still able to appreciate the artwork and architecture, and it truly was a sight to behold!
The most moving aspects of the basilica are two stone pillars at the very front of the church. These pillars are full all the way to the ceiling with crutches, leg braces, and other medical tools, as well as with pictures of children, adults and the elderly. These pillars, and the items featured on them, represent all of the ill individuals who were prayed for by the patrons of Ste Anne’s Cathedral. The story goes that if a person’s crutch or leg brace or picture or anything belonging to them rests on this wall, it means that they have been healed by the powers of Ste Anne. I don’t know that I necessarily believe in these sorts of miracles; I do, however, believe wholeheartedly in the power of medicine and science, and also in the power of positive thought, so I think it is an uplifting and reassuring thought for those who believe in it. I became very melancholy looking at these pillars, though, because it brought to the forefront of my mind just how much suffering there is in our world. More than anything, it made me grateful for the fact that I am healthy, that most of my loved ones are healthy, and that those loved ones of mine that are struggling have access to the greatest medical advancements Canada has to offer. Despite the fact that I’m not religious and maybe didn’t appreciate the Catholicism behind Ste Anne’s Basilica, I still found it very meaningful to witness the pillars in the front of the church and they did most certainly leave an impression on me.
My favourite site that we visited during our stay was definitely the famous Château Frontenac. This huge castle overlooking the St. Lawrence River and right on the boardwalk is a luxurious and gorgeously adorned hotel. I’ve studied the Château Frontenac many times, and I had always been eager to see it, but I didn’t think it could at all live up to the hype. I was, then, as with most other things about the city, totally surprised to find that it was beyond anything I could imagine. I would love to stay in this hotel! It’s truly from another time, and it is so beautiful – SS even likened much of the décor to that in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, and I have to say he was correct in his comparison! I mean, just look at those sparkling chandeliers! The pictures just don’t do it justice and it felt very magical to be inside a real-life castle.
There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Québec City, and if you’re lucky enough to get a quiet and quaint hotel in the heart of the gated city, everything is right at your fingertips. SS, BBG and I splurged a little and took one of the horse-drawn carriage tours, which was an absolute dream for me as I have always wanted to ride a horse-drawn carriage. Although it was a bit pricey at $90, it was totally worth it because we were taken to parts of the city we never would’ve had a chance to see (such as the home of famous author of Le Petit Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). I can honestly say that I feel like I saw and became integrated into every nook and cranny of the Ville de Québec. Some of my favourite moments were those spent just wandering around, looking at all the homes and scenery. It’s a very romantic city, but there’s also so much to explore at any age, and I would highly recommend a visit there to families and couples of all ages. If you live in Canada, there is no question that you should definitely visit this beautiful city with such character!
Girl with a Green Heart