Six months ago my husband and I had a delightful five day visit to Quebec City, the charming French Canadian City far north of our home in Michigan. After enjoying a few days touring the walled city, meandering the town, eating in terrific restaurants and sailing on the St. Lawrence, we picked a day to do a drive out and away from town.
The Backyard of Quebec City
It was gorgeous. The sun was shining and the road open. One of those “life is good” days.
Our first stop was the waterfall, a must do for tourists to the area. Called Chute Montmorency, the waterfall is actually taller than Niagra Falls. Tour buses drop off hordes of people and the many cruise ships offer trips to this waterfall, sometimes including lunch or dinner with spectacular views.
We simply walked the path around to the point where we could feel the mist on our faces and see a rainbow. A lovely Sunday morning stroll.
A Pilgrimage to the patron saint of ship wrecked sailers
Next stop: the huge church—Basilique Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre’— with steeples blazing in the sun. One wonders how such a big church got built so far from anything but it did and on a Sunday morning there wasn’t a parking spot nearby at all. Beautiful inside and out.
Built to honor Saint Anne, the patron saint of shipwrecked sailors, it is one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in the world, claims the guide book I read. The wall of crutches is a testament to its healing powers.
Nature’s Colors at their best
Color tour fans will like to know that the first weekend in October was “almost” peak for color. Seems early for those of us who live in the middle of Michigan where we think of peak colors as a little later in October but, lucky us, the drive was spectacular. I’d do it again.
Home of Cirque du Soleil
And then our destination: a darling little town called Baie-Saint-Paul. The concierge at our hotel ( Auberge Saint-Antoine) said we might enjoy the Art Fair. We sure did. Booths were set up to do everything from face painting to book selling. Feeling like we were the only native English speaking folks there, we meandered the town, enjoying the art, the fun booths and an outdoor lunch near the church.
While French is the primary language, the folks we encountered seemed very happy to try to communicate with us in English. Better yet, for my husband who loves to practice his French, they were patient with him while he worked to phrase his thoughts in their native language.
They were most encouraging. He thoroughly enjoyed that and I enjoyed the art and the people and the festive atmosphere. We were happy we picked that day to visit the town.
While we didn’t know it at the time, Baie-Saint-Paul was the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil. Nope, didn’t see any amusement parks or markers to indicate this. It was founded in the 1980s by a group of street performers.
Love Affair with Churches
The next day we had to head back to Montreal where we would catch a plane to make our way home. We had lots of time so instead of taking the highway between Quebec City and Montreal, we took the slow scenic road along the Saint Lawrence River through the many small villages. What struck me were the beautiful churches, a major one in each town.
Like in European villages, the dominant church in the center speaks to the power and role of the church in the community. My guess is that it is the same here. The silver exteriors and tall steeples against the perfect blue sky on a happy fall day made for great subject matter and resulted in lots of pleasant stops. Once we were treated to a carillon performance, extending our photo op stop while we enjoyed the music.