(Night 7) Les Éboulements, Baie-Saint-Paul, Saint-Urbain, L’Isle-Aux-Coudres
The next morning, we chanced upon Boulangerie À Chacun Son Pain while searching for a decent place to eat. That was the very first time I’ve had just baked beans. And I say “just” because I’ve only ever had Hunt’s Pork & Beans my entire life before that morning and I never really knew they were baked beans. To me, it was always pork & beans. Nevertheless, the difference between freshly baked beans and the version from the tin can was massive. I’ll never buy canned baked beans again.
And that egg? That’s not black pepper on top; it seemed to be oregano. New to me but definitely a good combination.
We noticed an alpaca farm near our inn the day before. So, we decided to say hello to the alpacas the following morning.
Isn’t he photogenic?
Oh my god, they’re so cute!
This gentle giant is in charge of keeping the alpacas in line.
Say hi to the shopkeepers before you go to see the alpacas. You can feed the alpacas grass you picked from the ground yourself. Alpagas Charlevoix is open daily from 9am to 5pm. They specialize in weaving and knitting alpaca wool.
So, what else does Charlevoix have?
Well, emu. Especially this emu.
Young emus like him have so much energy, which probably explains the bigger cage too.
Here’s an emu party.
To visit these funny birds, go to Centre de l’Émeu de Charlevoix in Saint-Urbain. The farm also has a shop full of emu oil-based products.
Driving alongside the St. Lawrence River, I couldn’t help but notice the little island in the middle of it. It’s called L’Isle-aux-Coudres, named after hazel trees. By now, you should know, when I notice it, I will investigate it. Well, my boyfriend was definitely more curious about it than I was.
A ferry will take you from Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive on Les Éboulements to Saint-Bernard-sur-Mer on the Coudres. You can definitely bring your car with you.
I don’t know what these are for but they were facing the river. So I’m assuming they have something to do with fishing.
The island was peppered with hidden cottages and inns. This is only one part of the Auberge La Coudrière. We were tempted to stay in the island for the night, but we didn’t want to be limited by the ferry schedule, in case we wanted to go out late. The island is beautiful, but do keep that ferry schedule in mind.
We ended up staying at the Aux Portes du Soleil in Baie-Saint-Paul. The room was small, but it was one of the best motels we’ve ever stayed in. The room looked new and clean. This was a very apt location at that point of the journey. We were at the outskirts of Baie-Saint-Paul. It was at this point where I realized that, yup, this is the soft ending to our journey and we will be home soon.
(Night 8) Beauport, Île d’Orléans, Quebec City
On our way to Quebec City, I tried to absorb as much scenery as I could. I felt sad that this had to end soon. There was a simplicity to rural life that I wish I could carry with me to the city. As much as I would have loved to stay, I was a regular worker with only 10 vacation days a year. And, I actually love living in Toronto.
Our next stop was the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
Look, I’m not religious. But, I can appreciate awe-inspiring architecture. Every element in this building has been well thought out. When you visit, make sure to come when they have guided tours. It’s free. The tour guides explain everything from the history of Quebec settlers, especially the ones that built the church, to each image on the central aisle (which, in this case, they asked if anyone in the group knew about it). So, if you want to look like you know your Catholic stuff, tell them those are images representing the 7 deadly sins, and the one nearest to the pulpit is Pride (the most serious of all sins).
Under the main basilica, there’s a crypt and another chapel. This space presents some of the best mosaic work I’ve ever seen in my life, so far. They need a water feature in that space. With so much of this wonderful art around me, for a second, I thought I was somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Across from Beauport on Saint Lawrence River is Île d’Orléans. We didn’t know anything about it, so we drove around. The Église Sainte-Famille-de-l’île-d’Orléans is the oldest church on the island. It stands next to the Maison de nos Aïeux (House of our Ancestors) and the Parc-des-Ancêtres, which is a peaceful, well-manicured garden that provides a nice open view of the mainland.
The island had beautiful homes and a landscape that offered some unpredictability. A road that cuts the island in the middle changes from woodland to farmland and dense woodland again. I was quite surprised that every two houses or so on the island were for sale.
The best thing about Quebec City is it looks and feels like Europe. I’ve never been to Europe but I have a pretty good idea of how it might look like. The last time we were here, we didn’t really get enough time to explore it and the weather wasn’t letting up. When we arrived this time, it was still a bit rainy, though not as unforgiving as the last time.
Quebec City is a pretty city, especially in and around the Old Quebec area.
If you decide to drive around the city, you can download the Stationnement de Montréal app to pay for parking online. It’s hard to find physical machines on the street. So, you might as well download this.
There’s no shortage of charming restaurants and shops around the Old Quebec area. I won’t even try to recommend one. But, to start, there are small hip restaurants along Rue Saint-Joseph Est that might just be your type. I saw the Le Bureau de Poste had a long line outside, while my bf and I were eating cheesecake and mousse from a pastry shop across the street.
A walk around The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is definitely worth your while. When I make good money, I will reward myself with a couple nights at this place.
Even on a rainy day, Quebec City can still be touristy. If you’re trying to avoid the crowds, try coming later at night but not too late that you can’t find a place to eat and grab a pint from.
On that note, Quebec City is an even prettier city at night.
We were enjoying our stroll in Old Quebec when we saw a huge gathering of people and heard music in the air. Turns out, they were having the Festival D’Été de Québec. We heard a familiar voice and walked closer and closer to it. Well, the closest we could get was outside the fence. It was too late to buy tickets because the show was nearing its end. Sting performed that night, with Peter Gabriel. And, they both still got it.
We stayed back in Beauport because the motel was the cheapest place we could find. The Hôtel Motel Le Châteauguay wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exceptional either. Our room was next to a road. The neighbourhood was a bit shady, really. This, unlike the motel we had in Baie-Saint-Paul, actually felt like a motel. We were only using this place to, literally, just sleep.
The next morning, we went back to Quebec City to fill our craving for great freshly-baked bread at Paillard on Saint-Jean. Come early because it’s a very popular place. This place gave me a bookstore-café feel minus the books (like a Starbucks inside a Chapters, especially the one at Bay and Bloor in Toronto).
Will we make it in time for a few more shows at Montreal Jazz Fest?
(Night 9) Montreal
AirBnB gave us a voucher (after the shenanigans of the first night of this whole trip) that we decided to use for the final night of this trip. We booked a penthouse near McGill University. When we got there, we had some parking issues. In the unit itself, the bedframe was broken and something was rotting in the fridge. It was a penthouse, alright. But, boy, was it sad. We had no choice because, at this point, we don’t want to spend the next 24 hours on the phone with AirBnB. And if they were going to give us a voucher, we were never going to use the service after this (well, we actually did end up using the service again, 2 years later in New York). What’s the use? Plus, we didn’t want to spend extra money or time on looking for a new place to stay. We will be driving home the next day!
So, anyway, we dropped our bags, took a shower, looked for free and/or cheap shows at the Jazz Fest. And, my god, were there lots of them! I wish I can remember the band names, but they played some electro-swing that afternoon at the Place des Arts. At the TD Stage, that evening, they had someone play some really good blues.
We wanted to chill after all that euphoria of being in a huge crowd enjoying really good “world” music (ugh, I hate that label but I see why people use it) and my bf remembered this Irish pub he visited years ago: Hurley’s. A band called Solstice plays Celtic folk music here.
Everyone in the pub (except me and my bf) sang along to every song. One of the patrons introduced himself and his fiancé to me and my bf, and he made us feel welcomed. He lives and works in Montreal, but is originally from Newfoundland. He frequents Hurley’s because it reminds him of home. He said the Irish are really this warm and welcoming. Well, I’d like the world to be more Irish, please!
For the first time, I was more tipsy than my bf. To sober up a bit, we grabbed some burgers at either McDonald’s or Burger King (I honestly do not remember. But, burgers definitely happened that night). Apparently, I’m like Michelle Rodriguez when I’m drunk; I was fast and furious, I guess (get it?). My bf half-jokingly asked me the next morning if Bessy’s back. LOL.
We couldn’t shake the Irish music bug off of us. So, we had Solstice’s music playing in our car on our way back to Toronto. Now, I’d really love to go to Newfoundland and Ireland too.
If there were a few things I learned during this trip, it’s that: (1) AirBnb is a hit or miss, (2) Any kind of food is better-tasting if you’re eating it with the right person, and (3) Keep a goddamn travel diary because writing about this trip wouldn’t have taken this long if I didn’t have to try to remember what happened on a specific day 2 years ago.
But, I do hope that you enjoyed this series with me. If you plan on going to any of the places I wrote about, please let me know how it was like for you afterwards. And I’m open to recommendations of restaurants, pubs, and other places to visit because, you’ll never know, I might go back.