Breakfast at our hotel was not available until 8:00 am so we took our time with the morning rituals and had ourselves mostly packed and ready to go before breakfast which was very simple – juice, coffee, a muffin for me and croissant for Majella. Once that was done we completed our packing and set out to retrieve the car.
We found the library easily enough but were more challenged by finding a way into the basement car park. We walked most of the way around the building before finding an open door and the stairs. Next challenge was getting out of the car park. There was maintenance closing the exit ramp but we found there were lights controlling the remaining ramp so that it could be used for both entry and exit. The hotel was just around the corner and it was an easy drive because traffic was light. Perhaps that was a result of the noisy celebrations we heard last night.
We carried our luggage down to the car, 4th floor room and no lifts being the price of staying downtown in an historic building, packed it in and were on our way before 9:00 am. Traffic was light all the way out of town in our direction though incoming traffic did begin to build after a while.
Although the first route offered by the GPS had gone south of the river, I went for the alternate north of the river via Trois-Rivières because we will need to take the southern route tomorrow on our way back to the USA. Either way it was expected to be a relatively short drive and our initial ETA for Quebec City was around noon. We decided to stop at Trois-Rivières for coffee. As we got near the centre of town we spotted a large cruise ship at the dock and saw crowds of tourists who had disembarked from the ship. Traffic around town was disrupted by that crowd and by construction work but we eventually found a metered space some distance from the centre and fed the meter enough coins for an hour of parking. As a precaution I photographed the street name sign and set a timer on my phone before we set off on foot for town.
The walk was straight forward, down one street and along another to the centre of town where we found Cafe Morgane where we had coffee. Afterwards we walked down to the waterfront and along the dock by the cruise ship before heading back to the car. The whole exercise took just less than an hour so our meter still had a few minutes remaining.
I drove from there until we reached our motel in the outer areas of Quebec City. We made one more stop at Fromagerie Grondines when we spotted a sign along the highway. We sampled organic cheeses made with varying combinations of milk from cows, goats and sheep, and bought a small piece of sheep milk cheese.
Official checkin time at our motel was 2:00 pm but we arrived soon after 1:00 pm and decided to try our luck. We were able to get our room so we deposited our bags, ate a quick simple lunch of our cheese and the bread we had bought yesterday (still acceptably fresh and tasty), and headed off to explore Quebec. We had picked up a map at the motel but were not sure of what we should see. I set the GPS for a street near the waterfront in the old town and figured that if we found a park before we got there we might work it out from there.
Our route into town took us up the central road and around a roundabout after which we spotted a metered bay near the old city wall below the citadel. We parked, fed the meter for the maximum 2 hours, and set off through the wall and up the hill. We went first to the citadel and walked around the accessible area through the thick stone lined walls. Eventually we found our way onto a path that led up onto the outer wall, around toward the river, and then down toward the area in front of the Chateau Frontenac. It was a while before we realized that the entire building was a fancy hotel and associated shops. We had ice cream (Majella) and sorbet (me) before walking on past the hotel.
Majella eventually spotted the tourist information centre and collected a map with suggested walking tour. We headed down the hill toward the river and the old town which is mostly redeveloped as shops and restaurants. It is all very well presented and very European in style. You could almost believe you were in France. We were more than an hour into our 2 hours parking by this time and Majella was nervous about walking back in time and finding the car. We walked around the area checking the shops until about 30 minutes before our time was due to run out. Then we took the funiculaire to the top of the hill above the old town and walked back through the streets to find our car.
We had decided that we should eat dinner in the old town but 4:15 pm seemed more than a bit early for that. We drove down to the old town area, found a park with a meter that allowed up to 5 hours, fed it, and then took off to complete the balance of the walking tour. That took us further around the base of the hill down the river. After spending some time in the markets at the old port area we walked back up the hill through town and then back to the old town area.
By that time we were ready for dinner. We had used 90 minutes of the 2 hours we had put on the meter so we fed it again and then went off to check the restaurants. We eventually settled on Le Lapin Sauté where I had pork chop marinated with maple syrup sauce and Majella had Rillettes de Lapin followed by fruit salad. She drank rose. I had shiraz and skipped the dessert in favour of a second glass.
From there we headed back to our motel, satisfied with a very enjoyable dinner to round out a day that seemed far away from our previous experience of North America. Quebec really is quite different from anything else we have experienced in this part of the world and much more like Europe than any other part of North America.
Distance travelled was 297 km. That’s not a lot of driving to be transported to a different world. We expect to travel further tomorrow and back to the other world of the USA.