I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. We slept in a bit then as the sun began to warm the chilly day, we got our act together, got Cali settled then drove the few kilometers down to the ferry landing at Lévis. Being mid morning on a Monday, there weren’t many people boarding the craft for the short ride across the St. Lawrence. The skyline is dominated by the beautiful Chateau Frontenac opened in 1893 with its eighteen floors and 611 rooms. Amazing views from the water as we landed in Old Quebec.
I had read somewhere online that walking up the stairs rather than going up the funicular would yield better views and add a little exercise to our day, so we set off to climb Cap Diamanté by finding the steps. We must have missed the staircase in the center and were soon walking through an old residential neighborhood hemmed in on a narrow strip of land following the river and bounded by the cliffs of the cape. We asked a passing woman out walking her twin collies where we might find the steps and she pointed us a bit further on near a small hostel. There we found an extremely steep set of four hundred wooden steps going straight up the bluff onto the Plains de Abraham. It was a favorite place for athletic types to run up and down for cardio.
At the top we were on the plains adjacent to the Citadel and walked the perimeter along the cliff to get views of the river and Lévis on the far banks. We spent some time exploring around the old fort which is still an active military base today. We walked over a rickety metal bridge then dropped down into the upper section of the old city. The streets are beautiful, many still cobblestone, with a charming European feel. Colorful cafes and shops occupied the historic buildings along the main streets.
We walked through the lobby in le Chateau Frontenac and had a look inside. Very elegant with upscale shops and an invitation to a formal afternoon tea. The interior plaza out front was all the original old stone walls with, of course, even more plaques for PJ to read. It was two in the afternoon by this time and we were beginning to get a little hungry. We found a small cafe next to the hotel and sat down to lunch.
We sat outside in a small courtyard kept protected from the wind by a stone wall. We basked in the sun and ordered up a crepe for PJ and a baguette for me. The ambiance was relaxing and we took our time to enjoy the food and watch the eclectic clientele dining in the cafe. The eccentric old couple with the cat in a stroller drew quite the reaction as they were rolling Felix out after their meal. Good food and quality time together. We thanked our waitress and headed back out to the plaza.
Buskers are playing music throughout the old city, here on the mesa overlooking the river, a saxophone player was putting out soothing sounds as tired tourists took a load off of their feet on the benches surrounding the statue in the center. Reminded me of our friend Janine who would man a station on the marathon route back home and serenade the runners with her sax. We admired the views and watched the crowds then climbed into the funicular with a dozen of our closest friends. Kind of like that sixties fad where they’d see how many people you could cram into a phone booth. Oh yeah, speaking of phone booths, they actually have some of those antique things here in the city. Kids were perplexed wondering what they are and a woman passing by got a laugh out of us staging a photo in one.
Down on the Rue de Petit Champlain, we wandered the colorful shops going in a few but mostly just strolling the walking avenues taking in the feel of the place. Musicians on every street corner, a man was playing a harp, a classical guitarist, a washtub poor boys style band and a pianist in the square. A magical place. PJ got caught up in the moment and bought herself a cute French style cap in a little boutique on the Rue. People from all over the world and selfie sticks galore.
We turned up the side lane that took us up to the Place Royale, the heart of the old center. This small, but picturesque plaza is where Champlain originally established the city in the early 1600s. It is considered the Basse-Ville, the birthplace of French America. We looked at a set of ruins from the beginning settlers and PJ got a good read in on the plaque while the guitarist serenaded from the square in front the Eglise Notre Dame des Victoires. It was late afternoon and the day had gotten away from us by this point and it was time to get home and service the dog.
We took a final pass through the shopping streets savoring the atmosphere and taking it slow to be truly present in the experience then we loaded ourselves back on the ferry for the fun boat ride back to Lévis. People were bustling, hurrying out to their cars and racing to catch buses. We are glad not to have any pressing affairs.
A vegetable stand caught our eye along the open fields as we drew nearer to our campground so we pulled in and butchered some French while the folks in the stand worked on their definitely better English. We bought some local honey, cucumbers, a cheese baguette and two jars of homemade jam. After our amazingly tasty jam experience in Fundy, we are big fans of the home brewed road side confections. Cali was glad to have us home and we sat back and watched some Breaking Bad while eating the fresh cheese from yesterday with the baguette from the farm stand. Tres bien.