September 23, 2007:
It was a 15-20 minute drive into the heart of Quebec City from our campground - Juneau et Chalets (campground and chalets), we aimed for a park in the old town area near the port along Boulevard Champlain. Luckily it was an open air park so we were able to slide our camper easily into a space.
We loaded up with our respective gear and hit the road on foot. One thing we've noticed on this trip is that every time we aim to photograph historic buildings they're just about always wrapped up in scaffold and netting or in tarps. Of course, so was the famous Chateau Frontenac!! In fact as we learned, next year was the 400th anniversary of Quebec, hence the whole old quarter of the city was being cleaned and polished for the celebrations in 2008. Luckily the Chateau was being tidied up in parts so we could still photograph parts which were not shrouded in scaffold.
The old town of Quebec is a real delight to spend time wandering through. Old stone buildings line the narrow cobbled lanes and house quaint boutiques or cafes. From Place Royale we headed up the hill and arrived at the site of a massive wall mural: La Fresque des Quebecois which pays tribute to many of the historical characters as well as honouring Quebec writers and artists. The setting depicts the seasons of Quebec and recognises the diverse architecture of the city. It sure attracts a good crowd too!
We continue wandering the streets, passing by gifted buskers and street cafes. Ascending the Breakneck Stairs (L'escalier du casse-cou), we get a great overview of Rue du Petit Champlain in the Quartier Petit Champlain - a pretty lane lined with colourful hanging flower pots and old buildings housing boutiques - not to mention the crowds of tourists.
We walked up to the top of the hill to the Upper Town (Haute-Ville) and eventually came out at Place d'Armes behind the Chateau. At this point we spotted the restaurant where we'd have dinner that night - a fondue restaurant which had a three course meal starting with cheese fondue, followed by fondue chinoise, then finally chocolate fondue for dessert. I'm not able to remember the name but it was in Place d'Armes opposite the building which houses Ministere des Finances.
Anyway, dinner is hours away so we moseyed on along Rue Saint Louis, then eventually came out at Porte Saint Louis (St Louis Gate) one of the main gates in the walls of the old town. We walked beyond the walls to check out the Parliament Buildings, then returned through the walls to walk up to the Citadel. Because the citadel is still used as a military base it is only possible to visit on a guided tour. From the walls of the citadel you have stupendous views of the city, St Lawrence River, and the Plains of Abraham.
After our visit to the Citadel we wandered along La Promenade des Gouverneurs, a boardwalk and series of steps which cling precariously to the cliff below the Citadel and leads to Terrasse Dufferin. There was a great deal of activity along the Terrasse Dufferin (Dufferin Terrace) with buskers, and tourists making up the majority of people.
With time marching on, we decide to take a break while we wait for sunset and dusk. We'd been on the move all day so we headed back towards the fondue restaurant. Our initial idea was to just have a drink but it was still way too early for sunset but just right for dinner. We decided to have an early dinner instead, then afterwards shoot sunset and blue hour. The meal was superb and afterwards we could've easily just sat with a bottle of fine wine and relaxed for the rest of the evening - but there was still work to do!!
We dragged ourselves out of the restaurant and continued on to where we'd planned to set up for sunset. Between a beautiful sunset and the stunning night lights at blue hour we came away satisfied. We headed back to the same campground as the night before, it was conveniently situated on the west side of town and we'd be heading west tomorrow!
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