Today was a very full day. Our tour bus picked us up at the campground at 9:00 for a trip to Quebec City. It is 155 miles east of Montreal, so a lot of our time was spent in transit.
Quebec was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. It is known as the cradle of French civilization in North America. It is the capital of the province of Quebec and has a population of about 638,000 in eight boroughs. At least 95% of the people are French-speaking, but many also speak very good English.
Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec) was designated a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985. It is the only walled city in North America. It would take at least a month to see everything here but, alas, we had only a few hours. We had an excellent step-on guide for about three hours. She took us on a walking tour in the old city, which is an outstanding recreation of the original buildings and streets.
After the walking tour, the bus took us up to the Citadel, the largest fortifications in North America. It was constructed over a period of more than 30 years, beginning in 1820. It overlooks the St. Lawrence River, which was -- and still is -- a very important commercial waterway. From here we had good views of the city. The we took a quick trip out to the Montmorency Falls for a photo stop. At an impressive 83 meters (272 feet) high, it is 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls. Of course the volume of water does not compare to Niagara.
When we returned to the old section, we had about three hours to explore on our own. First, Barb and I ate lunch at Bambino's Restaurante. Then we visited the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral. The Anglican Cathedral was modelled after London's Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields. It houses many objects donatedby King George III. The benches are made of oak imported from the Royal Windsor Forest. I was very impressed by the stained-glass windows.
Notre-Dame Cathedral parish is the oldest in North America. The first and second churches built on this site were destroyed by fire. The original chapel was built in 1633 by Champlain, the founder of Quebec. The present cathedral houses some impressive works of art, including the chancel lamp donated by Louis XIV. It would take hours to study everything there.
After the cathedral visits, we walked around the area just looking at all the interesting buildings, shops and such. Then we rode the Funicular, an outdoor elevator, back down to the lower level where we were to meet our bus. Before leaving the area, we made a quick stop at the Mission en Nouvelle-France where we saw some interesting First Nation artifacts.
Then we were on our way back to Montreal. After our rest stop, the driver played a DVD of funny tricks to entertain us.
It was very cloudy and a bit chilly all day; but I had taken a sweater this time to ward off the cold, so I was comfortable.