Today Irene and I hosted the full day Ensemble excursion in Quebec and we had a wonderful time. Our group included 41 guests from Ensemble agencies all over the US and Canada.
We started from the pier in the morning and made the short drive to National Battlefields Park, aka the Plains of Abraham, where the famous battle between British and French forces was fought in 1759, deciding the future history of Canada as a British possession. We stopped on the way at Cap-Diamant for an amazing view of the St. Lawrence River, the Lower Town, and the sweeping landscape on every side.
Our next stop was the Chateau Frontenac Hotel, which is on an awe-inspiring height 200 ft. above the River. This is where French explorer Samuel de Champlain constructed his first fort in the early 1600s. This Frontenac is the world’s most photographed hotel—easy to see why! It was built in the 1890s in the classic style of a French castle and dominates the Quebec City skyline. From there we went to Place-Royale, the market square in the Lower Town that has been restored to highlight its beautiful 17th and 18th century architecture.
Time for lunch! Quebecois cuisine is delicious and interesting, French but definitely Canadian. We had a wonderful lunch at Restaurant Les Ancetres, good food and a beautiful riverside setting overlooking Quebec on the Island of Orleans. From there we traveled into the Quebec countryside to visit the basilica of Saint Anne de Beaupre, Canada’s most famous pilgrimage church. Originally it was a simple chapel for sailors, but it evolved into a large basilica which has a long tradition of healing various illnesses and disabilities. The pillars at the front are covered with crutches left by people who claimed to be healed here.
We came back toward Quebec City along the scenic Avenue Royale and finished up the tour at Montmorency Falls, a fabulous waterfall half again as high as Niagara that plunges down a 270-plus foot cliff to the St. Lawrence. A great finale to our excursion.