Montréal has the feel of a big, modern city, and since a long weekend allowed me the luxury of the three-hour train trip to Québec City, I was looking forward to a day of something a little different. Arriving in Québec City, I headed out of the station and straight up the hill to the iconic Château de Frontenac, the world’s most photographed hotel…so they say. I have no reason to doubt them, since it is the only hotel I would probably be able to identify in a photo. More importantly, leaving Montréal at 6AM meant I had missed my morning coffee. I hadn’t wanted to chance the train cart and Google told me there was a Starbucks at the top of the hill. And a Starbucks there was, one with a panoramic view of Québec and the surrounding countryside from the terrace of the Château de Frontenac.
Thus fortified with caffeine, I wandered the old city, walked the Promenade des Gouverneurs through the park around the citadel, and lazed in the sun in several of the many public squares. Québec is quaint – sort of like Epcot, but in a good way – with lots of shady parks for sitting and public fountains whose mist cools the air.
For lunch, I hiked back down the wooden steps to the Petit Champlain quarter, (they have a funicular – while it looked like fun, I needed the exercise) the oldest and best-preserved part of Vieux Québec and the oldest commercial district in North America, and took myself to Le bistro sous le fort, which serves up a number of things that looked very tasty. What I wanted most when I saw them on the menu were the artisanal saucisses aux canards avec choucroute, less poetically known as duck sausage with sauerkraut. The sausage was excellent, I love sauerkraut, the server pretended to be charmed by my peculiar French and I understood a reasonable portion of what was said, so everyone went away happy.
A little more people-watching with a coffee and érable (maple) gelato on the terrace at La Maison Smith in the Place Royale put a cap on my day and sent me back to the train station fat, happy and prepared for a good snooze all the way back to Montréal.