So we decided to try cross-country skiing at Mont St. Anne, just a half hour or so east of Quebec City. We figured they'd have plenty of snow - and they did! That's how we first discovered Quebec - in the heart of winter. We'd go up in February - not during Carnival but after. The amazing ice sculptures were still all around the city, but there wasn't all the craziness that goes with Carnival. It was beautiful and we loved it, but boy was it COLD!
We instantly fell in love with Quebec. It's old and charming and beautiful, with shops and galleries and wonderful restaurants. We've been here seven or eight times, several in winter, twice in October and now twice in summer. And every time we go into the city, I feel excited to be there again. I can't wait to see the lower city, with its cobblestone streets and lovely shops, the Chateau Frontenac, which towers above, and the Grand Allee. Every time we leave, I feel sad, because I'm afraid that I'll never see it again.
People who haven't been to Quebec City generally ask me these two questions:
1. Will you have trouble communicating if you don't speak French?
2. I've heard that the French people are rude. Are they?
My answers are No and No. We have always been either in old Quebec City, out here on L'ile d'Orleans, near Mont St. Anne, or in the Charlvoix region. These areas all cater to tourists and usually speak both French and English. All the rest of Canada is English-speaking, so it's not just Americans coming to Quebec who may speak only English. Here on L'ile d'Orleans, where there are many old farms, the people may only speak French. But if you are stopping to buy their raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, cheese or wine, you don't really need to speak a lot of French, and they don't need to speak much English, to consummate your transaction.
I had seven years of French in school, but they didn't teach us to converse. So I can read French enough to understand it more or less; I can understand many spoken words, and I can say some stuff - but I can't really have a conversation. Still, it helps to know a little. If you say Bonjour, au Revoir and Merci, they will appreciate it! We were downtown today, and most of the tourists were English speaking folks, so if you go, you won't feel like the only one.
And no, we have never encountered French people being rude to us. I know other people who have experienced this, but it has not been our experience.
We are here until August 19th, and look forward to every minute that we can spend in this beautiful city that we call "Our Paris."
Here are some more pictures from this city of my heart:
|Along Rue St. Paul|
|In all the times we've come here, I've always wanted to buy something in this store, and this time I did!|
|Inside the cathedral in the center of the square|
|When we first came in winter, there were guys up on the roof shoveling snow off it! This is my favorite building.|
|I got these shoes for $24! And that's NOT my cigarette butt!|
|This is "Artist's Alley"|
|Another of our favorite restaurants - wood-fired pizzas -we haven't been there yet!|
|Horse-drawn carriages are a great way to see the city|
|This lady was booking down the sidewalk in her electric wheelchair, holding her flowers and talking on her cell phone!!|
|These street performers put on quite a show on the promenade outside the Frontenac|