Our bus tour on Thursday 6/19 of the old town of Quebec City was definitely a highlight of our trip so far.
(Note: Again, all pictures are reduced in size for faster upload. Click on any one for a larger version, then click Back to return to the blog.)
We rode on a double-decker bus and had absolutely perfect weather for a day in the sunshine, seeing the sights of the city.
Be sure to look at Susie & Denny’s blog to see more of our tour. I’ve tried not to duplicate too much, so you need to go there for “the rest of the story.”
Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage city and the gardens at Place D’Armes have those letters sculpted in the grass. We watched two women refurbishing this area earlier in the day. The double-decker and traditional buses as well as horse-drawn carriages begin their tours from this location. In the distance you can see a statue of Samuel de Champlain; look for a close-up at the end of this post.
Our tour guide Patrick is half French, half Irish. He speaks both English and French perfectly, and is very knowledgeable about old Quebec City and the surrounding area. The city is part of Canada, which is bilingual, but it remains very close to its French roots. Since most people and all signs communicate only in French (which I don’t speak or understand well), it was very nice to hear narration in English.
He claimed the Pub St. Patrick as his own!
We were able to get off and back on the bus, but we stayed on for the full tour the first go-round. We got off later for lunch and shopping, then it so happened that every time we got back on the bus we were with Patrick again! By the end of the day we had memorized his comments and jokes. There are several of the same type of tour bus, and they arrive at 45-minute intervals.
Old Quebec is a walled city with close to 4.6 km (about 2.8 miles) of walls and several gates.
You can find typical tourist souvenirs everywhere.
Including this T-shirt explaining what Eh? means. It’s better than saying Huh!
Shops are in some of the ancient buildings on narrow streets no longer open to vehicle traffic.
This shop has a unique name!
Here’s another mode of touring the city. Wonder if the dog serves as the tour guide?
This fountain depicts the sheer force of water overcoming ice in the St. Lawrence River.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Chateau Frontenac (now owned by Fairmont Hotels) and was looking forward to a tour. Alas, they no longer offer them. So we just wandered around the main floor, and I tried many times to get a good picture of the outside.
This was the best angle, recommended by Patrick.
We later went to the Musee du Fort to see a diarama on the Plains of Abraham.
Notice the variety of building styles, including different colored roofs.
There are lots of churches, some of which have been converted to apartments/condos. Patrick thinks people who live in churches must have an inside track to heaven when they die.
Many buildings sport murals on their outside walls, a common thing to see in many cities. But this is the first time I’d seen bridge supports decorated with murals.
Lots of restaurants offer outside seating.
Including the one we chose for lunch – Le Petit Cochon Dingue.
Afterward, Don checked out the chocolate shop but didn’t buy anything.
Not even these cute pig pops. There were penguin pops, too.
We were able to go inside this beautiful church. Notice the sailing ship in the center.
We enjoyed many great views of the St. Lawrence River.
It’s debatable whether these statues can be called “art.” They demonstrate an animal in various stages of leaping.
There are many sights of the old city near newer buildings.
Old-style multi-family dwellings.
Vs. modern apartments/condos.
The highest point of the city is the site of the Plains of Abraham, the location of a battle in 1759 when the British conquered Quebec.
Today, in addition to the preservation of the battle grounds, the area has been developed as Battlefields Park with 108 acres and many areas for recreational activities. As an urban park, it has been compared with Central Park in New York City and Hyde Park in London. This observation point includes a pavilion popular with young lovers.
The statue of Joan of Arc stands among beautiful gardens.
Lots of construction is underway during the short summer.
We discovered the Funiculaire, where you can avoid a long uphill walk by paying $2.50 for a quick ride in a glass elevator.
Street performers entertain from various spots in hopes of earning a few (or a lot of) dollars.
This was the first time I’ve experienced uni-sex restrooms in this kind of setting. It was a little off-putting, but when you need to take care of business… We even waited in line for the privilege.
Many statues are found throughout the old city, including this one of Samuel de Champlain, who is credited with establishing Quebec City in 1608. He was called the “Father of New France” and “Father of Acadia.” The seagull just thought he was a good place to perch.
Our tour was wonderful, and we really enjoyed the perfect weather, especially since it had been rainy/drizzly for several previous days.