Today’s post is 1220 words, a whopping 47 photos, a 7 minute read. Enjoy!
This week I’ll take you to Île d’Orléans where we’ll see a bit of the local architecture and sample some local ciders, we’ll make a quick stop at Montmorency Falls then spend a few hours at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (National Fine Arts Museum). I’ll end a few observations and final comments on our time in Quebec City.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning when our Road Scholar group boarded a bus to the Île d’Orléans, also known as Island of Orleans or Orleans Island. This island community of about 7,000 inhabitants is located about 4 miles from Quebec City in the St. Lawrence River. The Island is about 21 miles long (34 km) and about 5 miles wide (8 km) with highest point a bit less than 500 feet above sea level (150 m).
First inhabited by the indigenous Hurons, Orleans Island was later settled by the French who were attracted by the fertile soil and mild climate. The tenant farms were created in long narrow strips that allowed houses and barns to be close together on each side of the island. It soon became known as the “Garden of Quebec” with its production of strawberries, potatoes, apples, maple syrup, and other vegetables crops.
Today, Orleans Island attracts over 600,000 tourists to its bed and breakfast establishments, restaurants, art galleries, and other attractions. A narrow two-lane road circles the Island with a few short cut roads to the opposite side.
The bus pulled into the parking lot of the Catholic Church in the municipality of Saint-Jean de I’île d’Orléans, commonly known as Saint-Jean. First settled in 1680, the Parish of Saint-Jean-Baptiste was formed in 1722 and from what I could gather, the church in the photos below was built in 1737.
Marie, our guide led us on walk through the quiet village and stopped occasionally to point out some of the unique architecture used by the French settlers. The houses and yards were very tidy and most were in excellent condition. Many of these houses and the land has been in families for several generations. Here’s a bit of what we saw on the beautiful, sunny morning.
Our walk took us near the shipping lane on the St. Lawrence River. The vessel in the photo below is the Iryda, a bulk carrier owned by a company from Poland that sails under the flag of Cyprus. My best guess that it is carrying Canadian grain to Greece, the Republic of Georgia, or Turkey, the ships last ports of call.
After our walk through the village of Saint-Jean, the bus picked us up and took us to a local business, the Bilodeau Orchard and Cidrerie. A family business that began in 1980 when the apple orchard was planted. The first apples were picked in 1985, cider production began in 1995. The family also taps maple trees that they turn into maple syrup, maple butter, candies, and other products. After we had a taste of the cider and maple products, we browsed the store for gifts to take back home to family and friends. A fun stop and a great family.
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
We were back on the bus for the ride across the Orleans Island bridge for a visit to the nearby Montmorency Falls. This popular stop attracts nearly one million visitors a year. The water from the Montmorency River pours over the cliffs at the rate of 4,600 cubic feet per second (130 m³/s) with a drop of 276 feet (84 m). It’s quite a spectacular site. Montmorency Falls is nearly 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls, its neighbor to the west. In addition to viewing the falls from the platform near the visitor’s center, there is a suspension bridge over the falls, and a cable car that transports visitors to the base of the park to the top. A nice refreshing stop that shouldn’t be missed when in the vicinity.
Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec
The bus dropped us off in Quebec City at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, also known as the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec. This museum is located in the Battlefields Park between the Battleground of the Plains of Abraham and the Battleground of Sainte-Foy.
Our visit began in the cafeteria where we enjoyed a light lunch, a cold drink, and delightful conversation with others on the Road Scholar trip. After lunch, we headed into the recently remodeled Museum. We checked out the contemporary art on the second floor. I enjoyed the exhibit of common items that were turned into artworks. The stethoscope and Tupperware lamp caught my eye. Probably the best use of Tupperware ever!
The reuse of old glass to create art was very interesting.
Not only did we get a good view of the surrounding parkland from the rooftop, we got to see The Sculptor’s Garden. It was interesting to walk around the sculptures to see them from all sides, a different look on each side.
The third floor held a large display of Inuit art. I was fascinated by the materials such as animal bones, horns, and stone.
Here are a few photos from other exhibits we enjoyed.
The Final Farewell
After a couple of hours exploring the Art Museum, we decided to walk back to our hotel by way of Avenue Cartier. The charm of this neighborhood is augmented by 34 giant lampshades. At first, one doesn’t see them while looking at the people out shopping, the outdoor markets, and sidewalk restaurants. But when you see them, it’s hard to look away. We stopped for an ice cream and a cold drink on this warm, sunny day. Another place explore further on a return visit.
Avenue Cartier intersected with Rue Saint-Jean that is closed to traffic during the daylight hours. We came upon a group of street performers. There was some shaded seating nearby so we rested and listened to the music. We ended the day with a dinner at a restaurant in Lower Old Town with a couple of new found friends.
The view from our hotel room was of the Paillard Bakery. During our stay in Quebec City, we had our breakfast and coffee at this establishment a couple of mornings. It was also the scene of our last gathering of our Road Scholar group. We enjoyed pastries, coffee, juice, and conversation before heading home. We all agreed that our time together was enjoyable. We pledged to keep in touch with some of our acquaintances and new found friends.
This was the last photo I took in Quebec City as we walked back to retrieve our car and head back to the U.S. It was a wonderful time, I recommend this Road Scholar program for anyone looking to learn more about Quebec City and our Francophone neighbors to the north.
Jimmy Buffett, singer, songwriter, and entertainer extraordinaire passed away on Friday. I had the good fortune to see him a few times during the 20 times I attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His shows were rocking good times with two hours of singing and story-telling. RIP Jimmy.
That does it for this week. Next up Acadia National Park.
Until then, happy travels!