Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Romantic Québec City

We didn’t have enough time to fly to Europe for our 20th anniversary
but the drive to Québec City from coastal Maine was only 5 hours.

It was a gorgeous road lined in lupines. We passed a moose by a lake and very little traffic. Once we crossed the border to Canada, all signs were in French. The evergreen mountains transformed to rural France in both landscape and architecture.

A wide bridge spans the Saint Lawrence River to Québec City. Boardwalks above (first photo) and dockside (above) were designed for romantic promenades, sunset included.





A

very
thick
wall
encircles
the
Old
City.

This isn’t France?



Québec
was 
built 
into 

cliff 
with 
steep 
sidewalks 
and 
stairways.

There were plenty of cafés to rest tired feet. We sat outside on Parisian style wicker chairs, even in the rain.


The boardwalk overlooking the river had verandas for shelter too. Despite being so far north, the city was designed for outdoor seating. At one “exterior” restaurant we were offered blankets as the staff fired up the heaters. The food was definitely French although not always as refined.


Our hotel breakfast at Auberge Saint-Antoine was divine, especially the French Toast with caramelized apples and nuts that tasted like tarte tatin. Lattes were served traditionally in a bowl (photo by Henry Laurence.)  We felt very pampered and relaxed.

I spoke as much French as English. I recall years ago not being able to understand Canadian French, but now everyone except for the older residents speaks traditional French. We truly felt like we were in a forgotten city of France.


The setting was wonderful, but even better was the company. Henry asked me if I’d ever been any happier. I could think of special moments like our wedding, the birth of our children and of some blissful moments alone in Africa, but I’ve never been in a happier place in life. And I don’t just mean Québec. This is the picture of happiness.


Winner: the prize ARC of The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell goes to Stacy Nyikos @ Out There.

31 comments:

Edith Hope said...

Dear Sarah, What an absolutely joyous posting. The happiness of your marriage shines through your writing and clearly this was an experience of a lifetime and one which, I am certain, will remain with you both forever.

I have scant knowledge of Quebec and this posting has certainly fired my interest. The promenade is so reminiscent of Deauville or Trouville and, indeed, the whole visit seemed as one would expect in so many European cities.

Congratulations on your anniversary and I wish you many more.

Les said...

We made a similar trip in our pre-parenthood days. We also drove from Maine through the wilderness to Quebec. We stayed in an old nunnery one step above a hostel, but it was charming. My wife the French teacher was to the point of tears that she could not readily understand anyone, thinking her language skills insufficient. However, we ran into a Parisian selling produce at the farmer's market who she understood perfectly, and she said that she had been in Quebec for years and still struggled. My wife felt redeemed. Congratulations on your years of happiness.

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Sarah

What a beautiful place! Quebec City would be a place I would love to visit--thanks for sharing your pictures.

I wish you more and more hapiness throughout your life.

Best
Tracy :)

tina said...

That is just a wonderful trip and so great you guys are still so happy after 20. Here's to 20 more!

walk2write said...

I hope this post is just the first installment of many about your trip. I'd like to see more of the city through your visual and journalistic impressions of it. Your marital bliss lights up even a rainy day in the city.

ewix said...

Congratulations to you both. Wishing you every happiness for many, many more years together.
What a memorable trip in spite of the weather. The food sounds divine. Speaking French is such fun -in spite of the fact that I'm hopeless at it........
Love the idea of blankets in July.
Reminds me of the time we took the children on a daytrip to France around Easter and were determined to eat outside --which we did in the pouring rain...

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Your beautiful photos rocketed me back to Quebec. I had a lovely vacation there once--the only drawback was the worst shower ever-miniscule and alternating freezing and burning water! But it was such a gorgeous old hotel, I forgive that. Your faces are so blissful, I want to book tickets. Thanks for the memories.

David Cranmer said...

Talk about wanting to be there now! Gorgeous photos and you can tell by the smiles everyone had a marvelous time.

Thanks for sharing.

A Cuban In London said...

What a lovely post. I felt as if I had been there with you. Many thanks for the fantastic photos. Driving along the coast is one of those pleasures I never thought I would miss. But I do, because I did last summer when we went to Spain.

Have a brilliant rest of the week.

Greetings from London.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Isn't a happy marriage just the best thing on earth?
Congratulations to the both of you!!
Quebec looks like the perfect place to celebrate.

Sarah Laurence said...

Edith, Quebec did remind me of Deauville.

Les, everyone under 40 was speaking Parisian French now. The only woman I couldn’t understand was a late middle aged policewoman. Hopefully I wasn’t doing anything wrong! I am not anywhere near fluent in French but I manage. You and your wife should return.

Tracy, now that you can travel more easily, you should.

Tina, how about 2 X 20 more? I married very young.

W2W, I probably won’t post more because the rain curtailed my photography. We were only there for 4 days. I'll take more photos when we return with the kids.

Ewix, Henry loved the food, but my lactose intolerance makes French food a challenge for me. I enjoyed the lunch salads and the breakfasts. We were there during the last week of June, but I’m suffering from blog lag. I admire your very English determination not to let the rain slow you down. We luckily had an awning for protection.

Tricia, we purposely stayed in the new part of our hotel for the modern plumbing. It was a luxurious holiday for us.

David, next time you visit Maine, keep driving north. We passed a lot of bikers.

ACIL, the road was actually inland. We passed lakes. I do love living on the coast but a river or a lake would be the next best thing. My daughter and I are heading to the ocean soon for a cooling dip.

Pamela, a happy marriage is bliss even without the celebration.

Irene said...

Fairytale!

Amanda said...

sarah,

congratulations on your 20th anniversary!! i've never been to quebec but it seems like a gorgeous place....wonderful photos all and i especially loved the shot of the lupines on your drive up~enjoy!

Sarah Laurence said...

Irene, welcome to my blog!

Amanda, Maine is lovely during lupine season (June.) Did you connect me to Irene above? She’s an English speaker blogging from Greece too.

troutbirder said...

What a joyful post Sarah. My own memories of the City are equally happy as we stayed there several day on our way to the Maritimes. I was also the history teacher doing "research." Sad to read now that the "bi-lingual" signs are gone.

MissAttitude said...

Happy anniversary!

Quebec looks absoltuely gorgeous. I've never had much of an interest in visiting Canada, but these pictures are making me reconsider :)

By the way, this week I got Girl Who Fell From the Sky! It may be awhile before I read it, but the goal is to finish it before summer vacation is over. Can't wait.

Rose said...

Belated anniversary wishes to you Sarah! You and Henry look so happy here; the love you share just shines through these photos.

I have only seen Quebec City in photos in magazines, but the scenes definitely look as though they were taken in Europe. Such a charming city--I hope to visit it one day.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Quebec City is one of my favourite cities. I am glad you were able to get away with your handsome groom to celebrate your anniversary :-) Congratulations again!!

Amanda said...

sarah,

i didn't connect irene to you but thanks for bringing her to my attention - i'm always interested in discovering other hellenophile bloggers!

Sarah Laurence said...

Troutbirder, I thought the city did a fine job of showcasing its history. I was surprised that the signs were not bilingual. Most restaurants had separate French and English menus.

Miss Attitude, Canada is well worth visiting. I’m looking forward to reading your review of the Girl Who Fell From the Sky.

Rose, it interested me that Quebec felt so French since the English speaking parts of Canada don’t feel British (except when the Queen visits.)

JAPRA, you must be one of the best-traveled people I know so your endorsement of Quebec means a lot.

Amanda, it’s a small blog world.

Elenka said...

We haven't been to Quebec in 30 years. Sounds like an adventure we have to take again. Any place that gives you a blanket to keep you warm is a place I can call home!

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Congratulations on 10 years! I loved reading that you have never been happier. Isn't that wonderful when you just realize that life is good and you love everyone in it?

Now you've got me mentally planning a trip to Quebec City in my head! I've heard it's amazing, but your photos are incredible and I must go!

Sarah Laurence said...

Elenka, Quebec is so close to Maine and still totally different.

Alyson, it’s actually been 2 X 10 years. I married young, but I made the right choice. I think you’d love Quebec too.

Cynthia Pittmann said...

What a lovely way to spend your anniversary, Sarah. The French atmosphere is magical, and how practical to be able to drive there in five hours. I love the architecture and the outdoor cafe photos. You do look genuinely happy! Congratulations!

cynthia newberry martin said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! You both look as happy as your words.

I love Quebec City-spent the summer I was 19 there and will never forget it, especially all the outdoor concerts with Gilles Vigneault and Pauline Julien...merveilleux.

Sarah Laurence said...

Cynthia P., I was (and still am) very happy, thanks!

Cynthia N. M., I didn’t think of checking out concerts in a few days there. That must have been a magical 19th summer.

Donna said...

What a great trip! That city is beautiful. It's now on my must-see travel list.
You have a lovely smile! :)

Bee said...

I had no idea of the beauties of Québec City! I particularly like that boardwalk promenading shot.

How wonderful to KNOW that you are happy/fulfilled right now. Sometimes it seems like we only realize in retrospect.

Sarah Laurence said...

Donna, I asked my husband, “Do I really look like that?” He said, “You do. That looks exactly like you.” I don’t usually laugh in the mirror (except on really bad hair days!)

Bee, the boardwalk was my favorite part too. I think a blog makes us reflect on life as it is happening. Also my husband surprised me by asking that candid question. Part of the reason I am happy is that my husband asks meaningful questions. We’ve been through a lot in the past few years and appreciate the peace we have now.

Booksnyc said...

Beautiful photos - the city is just so charming! Hope you had a wonderful trip and celebration!

Sarah Laurence said...

Booknyc, it was wonderful, thanks!