Our tour ended at noon in front of Chateau Frontenac. This city icon was constructed in 1893 as a railroad hotel. Today, this luxury hotel is owned by the Fairmont hotel chain. It is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world. As majestic as it looks on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, I could see why. It is gorgeous.
Traci and I had an hour before we needed to board the shuttle for our afternoon Countryside Tour. To kill some time, we took a quick look at the restaurants and shops on the bottom floor of Chateau Frontenac and then decided to head down the street to enjoy a fabulous lunch at Cafe Buade.
We boarded the bus for the Countryside Tour in front of Chateau Frontenac. Just like our morning city tour, the driver first made a detour to drop off passengers who had signed up for the Ice Hotel tour.
Traci and I both liked the Countryside Tour much more than the City Tour. Our first stop was Montmorency Falls. As we exited the bus we could hear the constant roar of the half-frozen waterfall before we could see it. There is a path leading to suspension bridge that traverses the falls and continues to its base. We were given 45 minutes to walk around the area. This 45 minutes of outdoor time was unexpected. Neither Traci nor I was wearing enough layers to deal with the bone-chilling wind because I thought we would be spending most of our day in the heated tour bus. Rather than retreat to the bus or the nearby lodge for warmth, we endured the cold for the entire time allotted for this stop. We had to keep the camera in our pockets when not using it because the cold had already drained one battery.
looking down on the falls as it crashes through the ice
suspension bridge over Montmorency Falls
Traci and I walked to the end of the suspension bridge. We did not have enough time to walk to the base of the falls. We had a good time standing on the bridge and watching the water crash through the snow and ice below.
The next destination on our tour was Orleans Island (L’Île d'Orléans). We were driven over a bridge to get there. The island contains farmland and very old houses - some as old as 300 years old. Some of the products of the island are strawberries, apple cider, and maple syrup. Everything was snow-covered during our visit so we had to use our imagination to get an idea of how the place looks in spring and summer.
We made a stop at Chocolaterie de l'Ile d'Orleans, a chocolate shop where we browsed some of the products and had a cup of $4 hot chocolate. There were chocolate products shaped into everything from animals to iPods.
We were told that we could get a nice view of Quebec City if we made a short walk across the street from the shop. Traci and I were the only people from our group who took this advice. It was not the best view of the city I saw during our vacation but what fascinated me the most was looking at the frozen river.
Our next stop on the island was Chez Marie. This quaint bakery is housed in a stone building that was constructed in 1652. In warmer weather, bread is made in an outdoor oven that is more than 150 years old. One of the signature products of Chez Marie is its maple spread. We tried some on a slice of bread for $2.50/per slice. Traci and I shared a slice. Wow! It was so sweet and delicious!
delicious maple spread sample
We were driven back across the bridge to the main land where our next stop was the Albert Gilles Copper Art Museum. Admittedly, this did not sound like any place I really wanted to see but, silly me, it turned out to be one of my favorite stops. Canada is the third largest producer of copper behind the U.S. and Chile. This particular museum was started by the late Albert Gilles who immigrated to Canada from France in 1930. His daughter met us and gave us a brief overview of copper mining. She then took a plain sheet of copper and used etching tools to create artwork on the sheet. This was a tedious process in which the slightest mistake could totally ruin the entire creation. This demonstration gave us an appreciation of how much work it took to create the masterpieces we were about to see as we roamed the museum. Some of the pieces were for sale. Others were not. The highlight of our visit was Albert Gilles' tribute to the life of Jesus Christ. These copper masterpieces were so detailed and exquisite. It took several decades to create this collection. continue...