We extended our vacation with a five day tour of Québec City with RoadScholar, staying at the 1830-vintage Hotel Manoir Victoria, on Côtes du Palais, walking distance to many of Vieux-Québec's attractions and good restaurants. Vieux-Québec is on two levels, Upper Town and Lower Town, connected by the funiculaire in front of Château Frontenac at the Upper Town promontory.
The trip was largely free time with guided tours of some historical attractions. The trees were all in fall colors, the singular motif of the tour. Debby also loves being immersed in French-speaking culture, since she can communicate readily in that language. (Her previous favorite French city, after Paris, is Lyon, but Québec City is much closer to us, so is moving up our list.) After our first day, the weather turned cool and overcast, but with only a couple of daytime periods of measurable precipitation.
(This is being written 11 months later. In the interim we bought a house, sold a house, downsized by a third, and moved across town. At our ages, such activity serves to further scramble brains, so details of our little trip are now sketchy. But the photos and the current RoadScholar online trip description helps bring it back to life, although the story told here may have happened slightly differently.)
Here's the tour marketing blurb: Immerse yourself in Old World charm as you enjoy an insider’s perspective on the traditions, cuisine, architecture and culture of Québec — North America’s only walled city. Between the Saint Lawrence River and the Château Frontenac’s hilltop seat are the fortified stone walls for which Québec City is famous. Walk through four centuries of history amid the cobblestones of Vieux-Québec, and discover the elegant charms of its outdoor cafés, galleries and artist workshops. Discuss the sometimes-turbulent political history of the Québécois, and get to know their charming city’s art, history and cultural vitality.
We arrived early at our hotel from the airport; we ate lunch at the hotel and, armed with a tour map of the area, we went exploring on our own. It was a nice day and the forecast was for worsening weather, so we wanted to photograph some street scenes while the sun shone.
At lunch, via remote-controlled selfie:
Restaurant at our hotel:
Views coming back up the funiculaire:
Next morning, we tried out a popular Paillard café-boulangerie just a block from our hotel. We went back each morning for good breads and pastries and coffee. The weather was overcast, but the fall colors prevented it from turning gloomy.
After breakfast, we were presented with a lecture on Québec , highlighting the city's foundation and exceptional geographical location..., its present-day social and economic facets..., how Québec City's history contributed to the creation and development of Canada..., why the city was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
After the lecture, our guide retraced last evening's steps to the Château Frontenac, one of the landmarks of Vieux-Québec and the most photographed hotel in the world. The Château, which boasts a fascinating history, owes its name to a flamboyant French governor, the Count of Frontenac, who guided the destiny of New France from 1672 to 1698.
Never met a flower arrangement she didn't like:
Vieux-Québec is not without its quaintness:
Vieux-Québec constantly reminds it began as a military fortification:
Parliament Building (with grafitti removed from parking structure):
Never met a pastry shoppe we didn't like:
After lunch, we descended the funiculaire to the Petit Champlain, one of the most appreciated neighborhoods in Québec City, known for its architecture, street performers, boutiques, craftsmen, art galleries and the Museum of Civilization. After cocktails at a bistro, we dined independently and walked back to the hotel.
Greeted by the poorest weather of the trip, the group was taken on an inside tour of the fort.
Pointy windows decorating some roof in Vieux-Québec (wouldn't ordinarily grace my blog, but being the only surviving day 3 cityscape photo, it won me over:
That evening, we walked to a small cafe on a side street a few blocks from the hotel, Chez Temporel. It was a a delightful family-run eatery with good food and very friendly service.
Debby took a picture of our server and her mother, the chef, in their kitchen:
After our usual breakfast, we attended a tour of the Residence of the Governor General of Canada, within the walls of the Citadel. Strategically located on the heights overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, Québec City is the first major milestone on the road leading to the foundation of Canada. The lecture explained the region's unusual geopolitical journey over the course of history, as well as how the province functions today. The residence further contains a unique exhibition of Canadian artists.
St. Lawrence River from the Governer General's Residence:
The group then lunched on traditional Québec cuisine at restaurant Les Anciens Canadiens, a landmark is situated in the historic Maison Jacquet, built in 1675-76 when it was one of the largest houses in the upper-town and now the oldest in the entire city.
In the afternoon, we cabbed independently to the Plains of Abraham, a 267-acre urban park composed of plains, woods and gardens. It is also the setting for the National Fine Arts Museum of Quebec, which we toured. Debby and I each picked two personally interesting works to photograph.
Then we found one work we could agree on, and posed with it for our Hello Québec shot, which, due to awesome planning, also became our Farewell Québec shot.
On a rainy evening, we walked to a nearby restaurant for our final hosted dinner. I don't recall the restaurant name, but I have some memory of where it was, and a map suggests it was Bistro Tournebroche, just a block from the hotel.
The tour treated the entire group to breakfast at our usual breakfast spot for croissants and coffee. Then we left for the airport and our flight home.
Memoir: Never wait a year to write one's trip report (unless you are like me and do a memory dump of a report, in which case details gone missing in memory can be a blessing to the reader).