Pretty Places in Quebec

By the time I post this I’d already be in New York City. This blog sums up the beautiful places and sights D and I have seen in Quebec City during our weekend visit. I tried to give the places justice with my phone camera, but they are much more pretty in person. Glad we went there this month of September when it’s transitioning from summer to fall. How I’d love to see it more in the fall when the maple leaves are amber and red, making the place look more romantic and surreal.

Check out my previous blogs about the fairytale-like hotel, the Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac; the tranquil and historical Plains of Abraham; the colorful flower-lined Jeanne-d’Arc Garden; and the old town feels at Quartier de Petit Champlain.

Neptune Inn Mural Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Place Royal Place Royal
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires chapel Notre-Dame-des-Victoires interior

Place Jean-Pelletier

Gare du Palais

Gare du Palais

Plains of Abraham

One quiet Saturday morning, D and I took a stroll at the Plains of Abraham, a big green space outside the walls of Quebec City. The sky was overcast, the air was crisp, and the place pretty much empty save for the occassional walkers like us.

We walked past Edwin-Belanger Bandstand, and then towards The Battlefield Park. I’m no expert on history so I had a quick read as to what the historical significance of this park was prior to going.

Today marks the 260th year since the Battle of Quebec, also known as Bataille des Plaines d’Abraham. After a 3-month siege by the British, on 13 September 1759, a culminating battle lasted about an hour between the British Army and Royal Navy against the French Army on this plateau, then owned by a farmer named Abraham Martin. Britain won and soon after, with the fall of Montreal in 1760, French empire in North America ended.

The Jeanne-d’Arc garden and monument located in the Plains of Abraham is a tribute to the fallen soldiers of this war.

I contemplated I tread on soil that has seen bloodshed, anguish, fright, courage and tears. As I walked in silence I thought about 260 years ago, what it must have been like being in the forefront of the battle, fighting for the country’s honor. I say a prayer for the brave souls and would like to think they would have been proud to see the state of Quebec as it is now.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Quebec

I have had Quebec City in my bucket list since last year. I almost went when I visited Montreal in the spring of 2018, but since I was pressed for time I saved a proper trip for later.

This year, D and I were able to include a couple of nights in Quebec City (thank you Delta airmiles!). Personally, it was during the first time I saw it while watching Goblin, a Korean fantasy drama, that I made a note to myself that I will go to Quebec. That was also the start of my journey on Francophonie.

We started by walking through Porte Saint-Louis, a grand concrete entrance to the old town. Reminded me of out very own Intramuros in Manila. The fortified walled city of Quebec, I read, is the only one of its kind in North America. As soon as we entered, horse-drawn carriages walked next to us.

We turned right on Rue D’Auteuil and then to Avenue Saint Denis, heading to Pierre-Dugua-D-Mons Terrace and La Terrase Saint Denis, a park with a monument, which offered a great vantage point of the picturesque Fairmont de Chateau Fronterac, and the beautiful port. As a Goblin fan, this was a must visit for me too (because there was a scene taken here). I would have loved to go back there at night to view the lights, but it was too cold and I settled to playing with Dandy the cat back at the AirBnB.

We then headed down to Terrasse Dufferin, which was the up close view of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frotenac the waterfront. The hotel was very charming, both from afar and upclose. It is, afterall, one of the most iconic structures in Quebec City.

I realized that there were canons lined up fronting the bay. D and I were amazed at how Quebec City was able to preserve these historical pieces.

In front of the Chateau is the Monument Samuel De-Champlain, there was an artist playing to his guitar and singing to Ed Sheeran’s song, Perfect. It pretty much sums up how I felt that Saturday afternoon.

Clowns and Songs

Saw this while walking along Rue Saint-Paul at Quebec City, en route to our late lunch at Cafe du Monde. This was, at first, just eye-catching. And then I realized the clown was sad. Made me think of a couple of songs:

Sammy Davis Jr.’s (and then later on Regine Velasquez had her rendition) What Kind of Fool Am I

And, somehow of the same meaning, Send in the Clowns, which Regine also sang her own version of.

Such nice songs with sad messages.

Goblin Red Door at Quartier du Petit Champlain

In 2017 I’ve binge watched a popular Korean telenovela titled Goblin, a fantasy-themed love story/comedy. The cinematography and the funny lines captured my interest, and though I liked the storyline of a supporting character, the Grim Reaper more, one thing that I wrote down in my bucket list is while watching the show was to go to Quebec City in Canada.

See, in the show, Goblin had the power to travel instantaneously, and one place he kept going back to was Quebec – through the Red Door. Google maps had this location pinned along Quartier du Petit Champlain, the oldest commercial district in the area. This street is beautifully line with quaint looking boutiques, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. I browsed the shops to check out watercolor paintings, jewelry, and quirky items. Walking through this area was made more surreal as an artist played along his keyboard to beautiful classical tunes.

First order of business was a mandatory photo shoot at the Red Door. Luckily we got to the Goblin Red Door before the flock of tourists arrived. Mostly Asians lined up for a photo at the Red Door.

Afterwards, we managed to get seats within earshot of the artist playing his keyboard, in the Lapin Saute restaurant. We had coffee and tea to keep us warm on that cold Sunday afternoon, but didn’t bother to get anything to eat because rabbits are my friends.

We walked around some more and passed by the Red Door once again. I heard a group of friends saying that they drove 13 hours to get to that Red Door. I could relate – flew 18 hours and rode the bus for another 3 hours for Quebec City. That’s how special it was to me.

Jardin Jeanne-d’Arc

Located on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, the statue of Jeanne-d’Arc, the French martyr, can be seen in this quaint garden. This bronze statue erected on a limestone is a tribute to the fallen soldiers during the French and English war in 1759-1760. Jardin Jeanne-d’Arc was created in 1938 by Architect Louise Perron and officially opened on 1 September 1938.

“Patriotism and courage! In other words, through bronze and granite this monument stands through the glory of heroism incarnated in one of the greatest heroes in all human history.” — Sir Thomas Chapais

The garden is lovely, surrounded by flowers and perennials. I admired the beautiful houses fronting this place, and I thought how lucky the residents are with the Plains of Abraham and this garden at their doorstep.

I had to locate this garden as D and I were coming from the Battlefields Park. This is me panting my way up a steep slope, holding on to the short grass to preserve my dignity from a possible tumbling downhill. That short cardio workout was worth it!

A Side Trip to Montreal

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Aside from my passion to travel, I love learning new things. Recently I have started taking French language classes online and I was so eager putting my (minimal) French to practice, such that I impulsively included a detour stop over at Montreal, Quebec, from my original Los Angeles to Chicago route. Aside from my (over)confidence that I will be able to talk fluently with the locals, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had enough air miles to cover my additional trip. I took it as a sign and next thing I know, I was already booking my accommodations too within that one sitting. I chose a room along Rue St. Denis, near the Jean-Talon Market.

And so one fine day, I bid adieu to my mom, who was vacationing to the US with me, and hopped on a Delta plane from LAX on what would be the start of my first ever solo travel in North America.

Efficient, Reliable Transportation

When I landed at the Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, the first thing I looked for was the vending machine where I could purchase the 3-day STM pass for Montreal’s Metro. It cost me $19 and I thought it was such a cool deal because I was able to use it at the 747 bus that brought me from the airport to the AirBnB, and I was able to make full use of it going around exploring Montreal. The Montreal Metro was very easy to navigate, and their timetables were reliable. I also took the 747 bus going back to the airport.

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Montreal’s Metro

Churches and Cathedrals

The first church on my list that I visited was the Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. From afar, the church was a sight to behold, situated on top of a hill. Though I was quite tired from my very early morning flight, I pushed myself to climb the hill and was able to get a good panoramic view of the neighborhood. I spent about an hour inside, and learned a lot about its history through the printed displays.

The next church I went to was the oldest Catholic church in Montreal, the Notre-Dame Basilica. I went here on my second day, as I timed it going to the Old Montreal Port. The entrance here was $16, and they only accepted cash. Now I didn’t have Canadian cash with me yet, and it was a relief that they accepted US currency (note that no exchange rates applied). One description I can think of when I think about the Notre Dame Basilica is – magnifique! I was astounded by the interior’s intricacies. The stained glass was a spectacular sight. There were guided tours that ran every 20 minutes or so. I thought the Sacre-Couer was very serene. Taking of photos was not allowed at the Sacre-Couer, and it’s kind of sad that some tourists still took photos anyway….Notre Dame

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Buildings in front of the Notre Dame Basilica

The Cathedral of Marie-Reine-du-Monde, in the heart of downtown, is the last church that I visited in Montreal. I was amazed by the interior of the church – it was vast and had a beautifully painted ceiling. Now, let me digress just a bit: as soon as I got to Montreal, I realized I still have A LOT to learn regarding the French language. I participated in the celebration of mass here, and it was in French. Though I did not understand anything at all during the mass, I’d say the service was very heartwarming and solemn.

A Walk Along the Old Montreal

A visit to Montreal won’t be complete without going to the Old Montreal. It was a lovely stretch of cobble-stoned streets, lined up with little shops, cafes, and historical landmarks. I had a quiet afternoon walk, stopping every once in a while cherishing the quaintness of the place.

One of the buildings that caught my eye because of its grandeur was the City Hall, also referred to as the Hotel de Ville. The first City Hall was built in 1878 and was destroyed by fire on March 3, 1922. The present building was erected on the same site and opened on February 15, 1926. Entrance was free and there were some literature about its history. I was also able to get a glimpse of a courthouse.

Parks and Squares

It was mostly sunny when I visited Montreal, and I loved the vibe and energy of the people around me. My landlady said people would go out and make the most out of sunny days. I would attest to this as I did see a lot of folks on a picnic or just hanging out when I took a stroll through La Fontaine Park. It was a big park with a lake. img_8702

Right across the Cathedral of Marie-Reine-du-Monde is the Place du Canada and Dorchester Park. I spent time relaxing here, after a day’s walk. It was calming watching squirrels and birds, and the people walk by during rush hour.

Another quaint square is the Phillips Square – perhaps my most favorite of all because of the beautiful flowers that surrounded the place. There were stalls in the square and close by was a Tourist Information centre.

Incredible Street Art

My eyes had a feast of street art which I found in all corners that I went to during my short stay in Montreal. I also saw a lot of the murals and street art along Boulevard Saint-Laurent.

Next time I go back to Canada, I’ll make sure to bring D with me so we can explore Montreal together. There is so much more of the city that I have yet to see for myself, and hopefully by then I would be more proficient on my French. Montreal – ville fantastique – à bientôt!