Our Airbnb in Quebec City was actually across the St. Lawrence River in Levis. We loved that it was a quick walk away from a French bakery. Of course we indulged in pain au chocolat for breakfast each morning! On Tuesday, our first day in Quebec, we drove to the Ste. Anne de Beaupre Basilica.
There's been a shrine to St. Anne, Mary's mother, in this location since 1658, but the current basilica was built in the 1920s.
After exploring the main church and the crypt, we had a picnic lunch, check out the museum, and went to Mass.
St. Anne is my confirmation saint, so I really loved getting to see the largest shrine dedicated to her in the world. (Adam's confirmation saint is Francis of Assisi - we got to visit his basilica when we studied abroad in college. More about that trip right here.)
On the way back from the basilica, we stopped at Montmercy Falls. Maggie and Betsy were sleeping, so I stayed in the car with them while Adam, Allie, and Claire explored.
You can tell Claire was thrilled to have them to herself for a while! When the little girls woke up, we got out to briefly walk around too.
We wished we had more time at the falls! It would have been so fun to take the cable car to the top and the stairs back down. Alas, we had evening plans that were actually much more fun. We had dinner with my great aunt (my grandma's younger sister). Two of her children (my mom's cousins) and their families also joined us. We really appreciated being welcomed generously into their home and so enjoyed getting to know them over a delicious dinner. We haven't seen Aunt Terry since my parents moved to Texas twenty-five years ago!
She shared many great stories about her and my grandmother's childhood. Apparently their mom, my great-grandmother, had tuberculosis and had to stay in a sanatorium for six years. My great-grandfather was an Army officer and was off fighting in World War Two, so they lived with their grandmother for most of their early childhood. The only time they got to see their mom was when they went to get their lungs x-rayed once a month (to make sure they didn't also have TB). They would stand on the street corner at the appointed time and she would be at the hospital window. She'd throw down a paper bag with a freshly knitted pair of socks for each of them.
My mom's cousins had some funny stories too, like how my grandma told Aunt Terry about how fabulously convenient powdered milk was and they had to drink it for a full year before they finally convinced her of the subpar taste!
The next day we set out to see as much of Vieux Quebec as we could. Since we were staying on the other side of the river in Levis, we walked to the ferry and took a ten-minute boat ride across the St. Lawrence to Quebec. The ferry lets you off in Lower Town, the oldest and smallest part of Vieux Quebec. The early settlers quickly realized it made more sense to build their town on top of the hill.
Since we had a double stroller with us, we took the funicular (basically a tram on an incline) to Upper Town. The funicular drops you off right at the Chateau de Frontenac, a gorgeous and very fancy hotel.
We walked along the Dufferin Terrace, the boardwalk surrounding the hotel, and then made our way to lunch.
A nice hug also devolves into wrestling with these two!
We'd all highly recommend the sandwiches and salads (okay, and eclairs) at Palliard.
After lunch, we ventured outside the city walls and then quickly took a break to feed Betsy.
First, we stopped into J.A. Moisan, the oldest grocery store in North America.
Next up was Benjo, a huge and amazing toy store. It was like a F.A.O. Schwarz, Build a Bear, and paint your own ceramics place all rolled into one. Definitely the highlight of the trip for Claire and Maggie! We let them each choose a small toy to bring home. Claire went a little mermaid doll while Maggie picked prince and princess figurines.
We walked past the Quebec parliament all the way to La Citadelle. Somehow I completely missed in my trip research that, since it's still a working military base there's a considerable admission fee to enter. Since we hadn't allotted very much time to tour the fort, we decided to skip it. Oops! At least we got to see this pretty view of the St. Lawrence while we were up there.
Back through the city walls, we immediately spotted the house Aunt Terry told us about the evening before. Their father was stationed at the Citadelle here in Quebec City during the late teenage and college years. Their family lived in 59A for six years and their oldest sister even had her wedding reception there!
Right down the street was the Ursuline Convent, the first schools for girls in North America, where the founder St. Marie de l'Incarnation is buried and where Betsy started discerning her vocation.
Moving right along to another stunningly beautiful church, Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica, where the first bishop of Quebec, St. Francis Laval is buried.
We had a great dinner at Le Chic Shack, a burger place around the corner from the basilica.
Then we took the funicular back to Lower Town and stopped in once last church, Notre Dame des Victories, the oldest in the city.
From there, we took the ferry back across the St. Lawrence to Levis. That view of the Chateau de Frontenac at sunset was just amazing!
There was an ice cream place, Chocolat Favoris, a block away from our Airbnb so obviously we had to end the night there. They do soft serve ice cream dipped in twelve different toppings - we all got strawberry dipped in dark chocolate. We walked many, many miles and Quebec City is quite the hilly place. I have to give major props to Adam for pushing a double stroller around all day!
On Thursday, we drove to the Plains d'Abraham, a city park built where the Battle of Quebec was fought during the Seven Years War. (Or what we in America would call the French and Indian War.) We bought lunch at Les Halles Cartier, a cute indoor market, and had a picnic in the park.
There just happened to be another location of Chocolat Favoris next to the market, so of course we had to make it our last stop in Quebec City. This time we got chocolate ice cream dipped in salted caramel - yum!
We got our kids sugared up and covered in chocolate, then drove three hours to Montreal. We made better time than we thought and decided to venture into the city for dinner. Our phones didn't have data in Canada, so we were extremely proud of ourselves for successfully navigating our way to a restaurant we visited two years ago. It was a little tense, but we did it! We got roast chicken and fries from Rotisserie Romandos and ate at the playground down the street. After dinner, we checked into the airport hotel again and prepared for our early morning flight back to Vancouver. For more of our trip to Montreal in 2014 (including lots more pictures of gorgeous churches) click here.