As if I am in France ( Quebec Travel Journal)

The Reason that I wrote travel journal here

Before the trip to Quebec, I was searching some travel plans online to find inspirations. I checked TripAdvisor, Expedia, google reviews. They are all very scattered. You might be able to find travel tips here and there, but still they are not a whole stories.

I believe lots of people who have a tight plan for travelling would like to have a more detailed and full-scale trip with limited time. They may read online reviews too, but still it is not a complete trip. So I would like to read more and more information about a particular trip and the final aim is to find the one plan from maybe 20 plans or even do some change to generate their own plan. It is an unique experience and very enjoyable because when reading a whole travel journal, you will feel you are within the explorers too.

So I want to share mine with people who can feel my way of travelling.

Bio:

If I could not change my background then I will change my future on my own!! Travel makes you know you better.

Half EE background engineer and half DD( Design and DIY) explorer.

Summary:

Canada’s most famous and beautiful French cities are founded by St Lawrance Rivers. A 4-day trip is enough for a non-busy trip to explore the sceneries and culture, food.

Flight Options:

My Base Airport is DTW, which is Delta Hub. Delta is one of the top flights in America but very expensive if you book the flight really late.

One option I really provide to people who prefer an economy trip and are flexible on time is: flying from Windsor.

1. Search for Google Flight (which I found google flights usually lists more options than other popular agency websites like Kayak, Priceline, Expedia)

2. Porter airline is Canadian local airplane which is also called a cheap airline company!!! But after this trip, I would recommend it to a particular group of people actually.

3. Porter website round trip is separated priced which gives you more options because you can actually book a multi-cities flight if you also plan to visit both Montreal and Quebec City. You can fly to Montreal and come back from Quebec and vice versa.

4. Porter’s customer service is good.

on each way of my trip, I need to transfer in Toronto, which is Porter Headquarters.

They have their own lounge that provides complimentary coffee, tea, pop, snacks, newspapers. 1)If your flight is delayed more than 2 hours, they will provide you a $15 voucher for food.

2)If your flight is canceled, they will put you to the next flight and get a $100 flight voucher

3)if your first flight is delayed and made you missed the connecting flight, they will provide you a $50 flight voucher, besides you can also get a $15 food voucher if your new connecting flight is in 2h+ ahead.

4) Toronto city airport is by the harbor, they offer free shuttle every 15min between downtown Union Station to Airport

Hotels and Airbnb

We chose to stay in an Airbnb in Montreal (details below):

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9958229?s=51

In Quebec city, we stayed in hotel: L’Hôtel du Capitole

which is in the old town and close to everything. The hotel is very French style. Really recommend it to everyone.

FYI:The front desk stuff is sooooo handsome

( sorry no pictures)

1st Day: Unexpected One-Day in Toronto on Canada 150th Birthday

We choose to fly from Windsor Airport instead of DTW because is almost $300 cheaper.

My friend and I got up at 4 AM and left home around 440am. I still can’t believe it we made it. We arrived at Detroit- Windsor Tunnel pretty quick and there is no-one there at all. We have thought the border might be busy because of the first day of the holiday and we were totally wrong. American could hardly get up that early LOL

Windsor Airport has a beautiful name YQG( Your Quick Getaway) and its parking is right beside the building. It is a small local airport, only 1 floor. you will get on the airplane directly from the runway without the bridge.

We waited there a little bit earlier for check-in without knowing there is a big “surprise” waiting for us. The Porter agency told us our connecting flight from Toronto to Montreal is canceled and they put us on the later flight which would take off 6 PM, which literarily meant we lost the whole daytime for Montreal.

So a no-choice PLAN B: A day in Toronto. Even though it was already my third time visiting Toronto, it was my first time here in Summer. it should be fun!!!!

Porter Airline Toronto Hub is on Toronto island, it is very close to Downtown than the international airport. Porter offers a free shuttle to downtown Union Station, the shuttle even has free WIFI.

BTW, my friend and I did have neither data plan nor phone service for this trip, so anywhere with WIFI will be a shelter for us, haha.

Toronto Union Station is very close to downtown Toronto, about 10–15min walk. It is also a good view of Toronto Tower, you could go through Bay St up north to Old City Hall, A beautiful architecture. when you get there, you would be in really downtown.

I am attracted by the beautiful orchestra music when I was near old City Hall. We followed the music, it was from the famous Nathan Phillips Square, which is their New City Hall Plaza with the big T-O-R-O-N-T-O sign. And they built up a platform and a small orchestra band is rehearsing for the afternoon performance.

It was Canada National Day, and this year they are celebrating the 150th birthday!!! It was a whole day about foodie, music and walk!!! We tried the world’s most fluffy Cheesecake- Japenese Tatsu Cheesecake; we had a very authentic Chinese food at Chinatown; We witnessed their reaffirmation ceremony; We experienced their diversity culture show. it is a big- big day and Toronto is filled with all kinds of celebration, activities, festivals, music, parades.

We started walked back to the airport around 5. It just started raining very very hard. It was lucky that the rain did not start when the performance was undergoing. We have to wait inside until the rain gets smaller. Unexpectedly, I saw people all walking downstairs. We entered their underground “playground”. Toronto is famous for its underground tunnel, which is called PATH. It is downtown Toronto’s (mostly) underground walkway linking 30 kilometers of shopping, services, and entertainment. Follow PATH and you’ll reach your downtown destination easily in weatherproof comfort.

I pasted their official website of PATH, if you are more interested in the detail:

https://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=c76e6d876c86c510VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

Anyway, It was awesome, we just walked to Union Station without getting wet.

The World biggest rubber duck in town

When I was waiting for the flight to Toronto, I just read news saying the world biggest rubber duck will show up in Toronto harbor to celebrate Canadian 150 Birthday, so we planned to go there before boarding. However, because of the rain, it was a little bit late, so we could only walk to a nearby harbor to snap some pictures with the duck as background.

Then we are back to the gate waiting for our flight to Montreal. In the sky, I snapped some beautiful clouds:

The longest Firework Welcome from Montreal

We arrived Montreal around 9 PM and another half hour to the Airbnb. The Firework starts at 10 PM.

So Never and Ever book Airbnb too late for a Holiday trip

Before the trip, my friend and I could not find a fixed time to discuss where to live so booking the Airbnb was delayed again and again. Even the night before we head out to Canada, we still did not get a place to stay. July 4th holiday is the busiest time for Montreal tourism. It is so hard to find a good location and a good house unless you book months ago.

We really got lucky that in the last minute, we found our host: Elsa!!! Her house is so artistic but the location is not convenient. Anyway, we don’t have other options so we booked it.

When I first entered the house: I love it ( It is my dream house, see pictures later).

After say Hi to our Host Elsa and asked about the route to get to the Fireworks, we left home and start our real exploration in Montreal.

Elsa told us the BEST VIEW of FIREWORKS is Bridge: Pont Jacques-Cartier.

On the way to the Airbnb, my friend told me all the signs on the freeways, stores are all in French. I have not got a strong feeling that I am already in a French only community until we got to the Metro station, and I started talking to the ticket booth staff in English. He shaked his head: don’t understand in English. I was panic. Then my friend started talking to them in French. She was truly a saver for me. She told me she only knows a little bit French but I don’t believe her, lol.

It turned out that all Montreal Metro is French only too, the Metro map, metro broadcast and all passengers talking in — — — French. It is a bit of shock to me. I did not expect it is that much French.

Finally, we got to Papineau Station. All people got off from that stop and we were all there for the Fireworks. It has started 5 mins more ago.

Fireworks are so transient that the watchers are always worriing: is this the last one? It has been 15mins since it started. The sky still looks fantastic. Another highlight came, then another… till the final “curtain call “section lasted totally more than 1min leaving all sparkling stars hanging there. Crowds were all clapping spontaneously and it was an unforgettable night in my life!!

You know it: nothing can catch the beauty of the fireworks other than your eye. But I still want to share some pictures here:

Happy 150th Birthday to Canada, Happy 375th Birthday to Montreal!

AirBnB- A romantic French art

Considering the Price, our host’s little house is the best option I think. I think it should be my favorite western style home. its title is not listed as a Designer’s home, but it is absolutely a designer’s artistic house for me.

Most importantly, she has two cutest cats and one huge but adorable German shepherd.

Loo is waiting for Elsa

Cats and Dog live happily together

2nd Day: As if I am in France

We started our whole day exploration after a natural wake up in the morning.

Now, let’s starts

Montreal City Pass

there are a weekend pass( CAD$ 13.5)and a 1 day pass-24h(CAD$10) for a short-term visit to Montreal. I really recommend travelers to purchase it because the Metro is charged based on the times of taking the metro, not the stops.

You swap ticket when you get in the station and get out freely without any resistance. One way $3.5, round trip $5.

First Stop: Montreal Olympic Parc

Montreal held Canadian’s first Olympic in summer of 1976. Olympic Parc is one of the Metro stops of Green line. when you get off from the Metro, the Olympic Stadium is in front of your eyes.

Honestly, it is under my expectation because it is so old. It is like big concretes are everywhere with no life. No matter where you go, the dirt from rain is left on the seats, handles, stairs. It seems no event was held there for a long time. A few people jogging around the stadium.

With a few ‘I am here’ photos, we get to the subway to the next stop: McGill.

Second Stop: Downtown Montreal, Two surprises

When we get off from Subway, we entered Montreal huge underground tunnel system-RESO. It is the largest underground complex in the world.

Nearly 500,000 people use it per day. It stretches for 32 kilometers (20 miles) and covers 4 million square meters. I have to ask Information Desk to get out to the ground level, lol.

It was actually playing a big game outside that day: International Cycling Game- Le Grand Defi.

It was also my first time to see a live cycling game. Crowds were cheering with Music. But most importantly, I started loving this city right after I entered the ground world, it is a skyscraper world. However, It is not just like big cities like New York or Chicago. It is a city scattered with many cathedrals. When you walk through the streets, you could encounter Baroque or Gothic style architectures.

The ones I met are:

Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral

St. James United Church:

The Downtown of Montreal is just like a downtown as you expected, a little bit like Chicago because of all kinds of architectures.

Not far from the Cycling race, another surprise is waiting for us!! it was Montreal Jass International Music Festival.

It was 2 PM, a Band just started performance, it is so hot outside, but the crowds are hotter and crazier than the weather. I haven’t see crowds for a long time. So happy.

I did some research on Wikipedia and found that Montreal is named North America’s leading host city for international association events. That is why! haha.

Sushi Shop

A sushi chain restaurant, I really recommend Sushi Burrito. DadadaDA:

Ha, Montreal restaurants always have many Asian flavor drinks:

lychee, guava…

OK, Here are more Historical and Geography data about Montreal:

Montreal covers most of the Island of Montreal and at the confluence of Saint Lawrance and Ottawa River. It used to be the commercial capital of Canada before the Olympics of 1976. It is the second primary largest French speaking city in the world after Paris. It was named a UNESCO City of Design.

Third Stop: the old Montreal!!! the best one

I personally like Montreal Downtown better than Toronto’s. In Toronto, I could walk entire downtown from city hall to U of Toronto, to Chinatown, to Union Station. While Montreal is bigger because it not only has more skyscrapers, which is newer downtown, but also it has its old downtown, which is southeast of downtown Montreal. The old Montreal is famous historical and tourism. Old Port of Montreal, City Hall, Bousecourse Market and the most famous one: Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica are all here.

What I like best in Montreal is the Old Montreal too. My friend is German and she also admitted that old Montreal is really like a Europe city. The architectures and street layout remind her of Europe a lot.

Montreal Old Town Walking Tour

I really recommend you to join the walking tour from Guitatour. You can find it in front of Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica. If you could not find them, Just ask the staff work in Notre-Dame.

It is the best way you can understand this city correct in a limited time. But the most important reason is that you can skip the line to get into Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica, which is usually more than 100 people during any holiday.

Our guide is Pierre( French name, can’t spell here), a very knowledgeable and humorous Montrealer. He has been a tour guide for more than 10 years( if I remembered correctly). He is really passioning about showing his hometown, his favorite city.

The first stop is the Notre-Dame Basilica. The outside of this church is just like regular Gothic Revival style, but I bet no one won’t be shocked by the interior. When you step into the door, your breath will stop for a second!!!

I have not been to France or Notre-Dame de Paris. After I searched the interior of Notre-Dame de Paris interior. I can honestly say that Notre-Dame Basilica interior wins!!!! Simply speaking, the architects built another architecture inside it.

My first response to this master piece is that I feel it is not real!!! it is so delicate! the engraver, the window, the paint, the spiral stairs. There is also a Hall in the back which can be reserved for a wedding ( if you are lucky, the tour guide will show it to you if there is no event going on there).

Pierre told us Basilica is the second cathedral in Montreal. It could be called the sister of Notre-Dame de Paris. The church is complete by 3 phases, while the interior work is done at the last.

WIKIPEDIA link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre-Dame_Basilica_(Montreal)

After Notre-Dame, Pierre walked us around other famous architectures in the old town. We went to the busiest European Streets with full of shops, restaurants. He recommended us some coffee places, Maple Syrup shop, galleries. I could not move my eyes from all the windows show shelves or resist of the sweetest maple syrup.

Here are some interesting moments from the tour, I forget the detail of the history of this beautiful city, but the pictures could last forever.

The first building of Montreal: they were warehouses, and now they renovate them to become apartments.

The first mayor of Montreal (Female): Janne Mance

City Hall:

A Hotel and its garden. Apple tree grew on the wall!! So genius.

French Food

As we were in French district, the only thing I must to find out is always the Souffle!!!

We found one that serves chocolate souffle but it is not really that good. Let me know if you know any other better places.

Almost all the restaurants in Old Montreal is French restaurants. You can enjoy a really decent French food at a reasonable price!!

Montreal Electronics Music Festival- Iglofest

Another interesting event happens in winter every year here is the Electronics Music Festivals-Iglofest- the world coldest fest. During the coldest time here, it is usually -20C. All the crazy fans still gather together here dancing in the snow!!! It must be a funny scene that no one wants to miss, lol

The cheapest enjoyable way from Montreal to Quebec City

华景旅行网 http://www.sinoramabus.com

We planned our trip by flying multi-cities so we could save more time for sightseeing. We flew to Montreal and planned to take bus or train to Quebec and the second day in Quebec, we would fly back home.

When I was searching the fares of train/ bus from Montreal to Quebec. The Bus has more schedules while the train might go through beautiful sceneries. Bus fare is around CAD $50–60 while the train is almost $90. The Bus is 3h while the train is 4.5h.

However, I found something interesting from Montreal city information center. I was there looking for a 1-day tour from Montreal to Quebec because I know in this way, I could just not come back with the tour group and we have a tour guide to show us around.

We went to a tourism company in downtown Montreal but unfortunately, the next day tour is fully booked. They were Chinese company though, the staff there are very friendly and suggest us to try information center.

The staff from IC( Information Center) gave us a list of all the tour company that offered 1-day trip to Quebec. I searched their websites and found all those companies are Chinese companies. That is why the 1-day tour is sooo cheap- CAD $35. If you go with a Canadian company, they charge $110. Luckily, only one company still have seats so we got our spots.

The next day tour bus trip start from 7 am. We meet our tour guide at Chinatown and there are totally 3 buses go to Quebec on the same day. This trip includes an extra attraction which was not in our plan before, Montmorency Fall.Actually, It really worth going.

Montmorency Falls

Montmorency Falls are located northeast of the Quebec city, around 30min driving. they are the highest fall in the province of Quebec. They are at 84meters high and 46 meters wide. They are 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls. The guide said, “People go to Niagara to see width of the falls and come here to the heights.

When you stand in the bridge build on the top of the fall, the view is amazing.

They even have zip line, so you can cross the fall by sliding down. But unfortunately, we did not have enough time for it.

One thing I do not really like Chinese tourism company is that they always bring you to a particular restaurant to eat (very likely Chinese Buffet) and even they don’t force you to join their recommended the activity but the free time is so limited so you have to join. This time, they wanted us to buy Cable car to get to the top of the fall because we only had 60 min stop for this sightseeing while if you don’t take the cable car, it takes you around “45” min to get to the top.

My friend and I really wanted to get to the top but we wanted to Climb by ourselves because it is a good workout option. We went to the ticket counter of the cable car and asked how long to get to the top, the lady just said 20 min.

WOW, it is a big difference!!!!

The Stairs look like this:

From Lower land

From Highland:

It turned out that it only takes us 15min. We are up here:

I really enjoyed this tour bus even though they have some hidden fees: lunch buffet( $19), Cable cart to the top of the fall ($15) and a conservatory to see 360 degrees of Quebec city ($12). But all those are not forced. We did not go for the lunch with the group nor for the cable cart. So I only spend $55 that I come to Quebec and see extra attractions.

I think I am proud of Chinese people. In general, the tour bus trip service is well-planned and worth its value. Even though it still has room to improve (e.g mention hidden fees on the website and be more knowledgeable about the attractions) I believe its business will get better.

3rd Day: Quebec City

Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America. It is all the time the capital of Quebec Province. It is French speaking province because it was founded by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and diplomat on 3 July 1608. Although the Acadian settlement at Port-Royal was established three years earlier, Quebec came to be known as the cradle of the Francophone population of North America. The place seemed favorable to the establishment of a permanent colony.

Quebec old town is the only fortified city north of Mexico in North America.

French explorer Jacques Cartier built a fort at the site in 1535, where he stayed for the winter before going back to France in spring 1536. He came back in 1541 with the goal of building a permanent settlement. This first settlement was abandoned less than one year after its foundation, in summer 1542, due in large part to the hostility of the natives combined with the harsh living conditions during winter. The Fort turned out to be the powerful defense against British during four French and Indian Wars.

The population starts from Old Town, which is the lower part of the town. It is also considered the downtown of Quebec city while the upper town is considered to be a rich people town though.

There are couple famous sightseeing in lower town: old port, Museum of Civilization, Place Royale. It is a very European style architectures, like the most famous scene in the movie: Danish Girl, which shot in Copenhagen. The only difference is that here are not by the water.

Restaurants, galleries, shops!!! So much for me to explore. lol

Best Hot Chocolate Shop

No Explanation needed with this picture: 20 different hot chocolate. It is perfect for a rainy day.

Interesting Ceiling Design:

You can also dip your sorbet into one of those 20 flavors malted chocolate.

I asked them why not open one branch in the USA, they said, for now, those are only in Quebec province. They will open another branch in Toronto and maybe in the future in USA!!!

Here is the yelp link:

https://www.yelp.com/biz/chocolato-qu%C3%A9bec-2

Chateau Frontenac

I think all the people who go to Quebec will fall in love with that castle- Chateau Frontenac. When at the conservatory, I have seen a special tower that stands out from all the buildings in Quebec city. When you are right front of it, you will be stunned.

I could feel I was in Hogwarts. It was like real Hogwarts in the real world.

Chateau in French means castle. It is a hotel open in 1893. I think everyone who plans to go to Quebec city would like to stay a night, while, the tour guide told us the cheapest one night stay would be more than $400. However, luckily, its underground and 1st levels are open to the public. You can also join their special chateau tour with a guide. In this way, you can even visit the famous Grand Ballroom, if it is not in use

I joined their tour and I think it worths the money ($20). We went to different sites in the hotels. One of my favorite parts is a hallway where you can find bee house in the roof gardens. The guide told us all the honey and vegetables that served in this hotel are from their gardens, all organic and freshest.

Bee houses:

The roof of Chateau is green, which is made of copper. Every time they replace a new copper roof, it takes 7 years to get copper oxidized to become beautiful turquoise green (my favorite color) Is that material amazing?

The final stop is the Grand Ballroom. The high ceiling, chandelier, the painting, the pattern on the rug.

Honestly, It is grand, I feel it is missing something: yes, the dining table and all the dining wares. It should be like:

There is an interesting history the guide told us. During the first battle between French people in Quebec city against English explorers, the battle wins even before the start. When French saw English army came by ships, they did not send armies out of the Fort to fight. Instead, he waited. Because when British came, it was summer, while they did not expect the cold in Quebec city. With winter coming, the river would freeze and it will be too cold for them to fight. So they just went back. How smart the French are!!

La Citadelle de Québec

British army’s uniform is the funniest and most adorable uniforms in the world I think. The fluffy black high hat with the royal scarlet suits is always eye-catchy. It almost covers their eyes however they could not look anywhere else except the front, no matter how hilarious expression you make right in front of their faces.

I always want to watch the changing of the guard of the British army in Great Britain. While in Quebec city, you got luck too. You can see the Changing of the Guard daily at 10 am at La Citadelle from June 24 to Labor day on the Citadelle’s Parade grounds.

The Changing of the Guard has been a tradition at the Citadelle of Quebec since 1928 except for a brief hiatus between 1939 and 1945. The ceremony features soldiers of the Royal 22 Regiment decked out in their scarlet regimental dress and bearskins as the “new guard” relieves the “old guard” after 24 hours of sentry duty at the Citadelle’s entrance. It is based on the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and is the only such ceremony in the province.

For me, I was not aware of this until I came to the La Citadelle. They offer a guided tour to the Citadelle and Museum. I am not that into History and Wars, but the tour is still very interesting, it shows how the army was living there and how to defend. If you have the admission to the Citadelle and Museum, you could come back next day for the Changing of Guard. Unfortunately, I have already booked the tour to the Chateau so I missed it this time.

It is so windy there:

Place Royale

Both Upper Town and Lower Town are very well-developed tourism areas. Even though I have not been to Europe before, By walking in the old town makes me feel I was in Europe already!!!

Place Royale is a picturesque pedestrian streets district that gathers galleries, museums, and church: Notre-Dame_des_Victoires.

The Eye Deceiving Murals of Quebec City

The murals were commissioned between 1999 and 2008 to celebrate 400 years birthday of Quebec city. La Fresque des Québécois was the first mural to be completed in 1999. It is a 420 square meters mural that is really eye deceiving. The mural is depicting the city’s key architectural monuments including the stairs connecting the upper and lower town, the walls, the various cultural communities: Amerindians, French and British settlers and Irish immigrants.

if you stand there and take a picture, it will look like you are inside it, like:

Last but not the least: Food in Quebec City

Of course, the 1st option is authentic French. Usually, it is kind of expensive to find a good French restaurant in America. Now it is the time to pick and decide. So many restaurants for you. My friend and I just wandering around the street and picked one after we read the menu.

One of the most famous French dishes is Crepe!! I believe every French breakfast restaurant will offer crepe. We just randomly found one through Yelp. It turned out to be very very delicious.

The simplest crepe: Egg ham Crepe is the greatest one.

I am a super fan of Souffle, however, I did not find any restaurant offers that which really surprises to me. If you find one, please comments and let me know. Thanks

2nd option: Italian.

I am not so sure why there are so many Italian restaurants, but it might because French and Italian are very similar??? I found one Italian restaurant to try because they have eel ink Pasta, which is my favorite.

So yummy.

3nd option: Quebec food (especially Putine)

They called it Quebec Putine. Putine is a loaded potato chips. I remember when I went to Toronto, people there told me the most famous food is Putin. This time, I was in Quebec. It is the same thing. I believe all Canadians love it because it is sooooo cold in Canada so this fatty greasy food could make them keep warm!!! must be true.

4th Day: Second trip to Toronto

Our return flight was Porter again and we also had transfer flight in Toronto. Very very likely and unfortunately our flight from Quebec city to Toronto got delayed while our transfer time was only 20min.

Guess what: We missed our second flight. Porter put us at a later flight which was 3hours later and we got a free lunch voucher of %15 from them.

Our first thought was to go to Toronto Harbor again to find that rubber duck and take pictures. However, it was gone. I read the news it says it was only there from Jul 1st to 3rd.

We got out from the airport and started a long walk by the harbor. I noticed a common phenomenon here of all the city by the lake/sea/water: They love the beach, even here is not a real beach at all. lol

The beaches here are really narrow and small. They still like to:

There are a lot of ships, sails, boats in the harbors and I met Empire Sandy, hahaha. I wish I can drive my sail out one day.

Before heading back to the airport, let me look at this beautiful city again: Bye Toronto, Bye Canada, See you soon.

Finally some good pictures in

air: