Family and friends,
Growing up in Ottawa, I had driven from there countless times to Quebec City en route to visit relatives in Canada’s Maritime provinces. I have no idea, however, why I had never stopped with my family or later by myself at the lovely communities of Ste. Anne de Beaupre, Montmorency Falls, and the Ile d’Orleans which were each so close to Canada’s most beautiful city. Thank goodness, Steven and I had a second look at the tour book and decided to spend time at each of these places – after all, we prefer to explore new places when given the chance, and Quebec City was ‘just’ a refresher for us. I hope you will agree we made the right decision detouring as we did!
All the best to you and your loved ones, Annie
My apologies to those readers hoping this post would be all about beautiful Quebec City as promised at the end of the last post. I’d forgotten we stopped en route from Ottawa at the Ste. Anne de Beaupre Basilica and other places before reaching Quebec City that night.
The Île d’Orléans Bridge spanned the St. Lawrence River between the Beauport borough of Quebec City and Île d’Orléans in the Canadian province of Quebec.
We had just a quick glimpse of Montmorency Falls before heading to the basilica. See that tiny pedestrian bridge atop the falls – we’d be on that soon enough!
Sitting about 22 miles northeast of Quebec City was Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, a stunning religious site in the small town of the same name. The basilica honors St. Anne, the patron saint of the province of Quebec. The first church was constructed in 1658. Following a fire in the 1920s, this magnificent structure was built.
I read that pilgrims travel across the globe to pay their respects to St. Anne and to benefit from her miraculous healing powers. According to legend, one of the basilica’s original builders began his work on crutches but was able to walk unaided once the church was completed. Many visitors commemorate this miracle by leaving a crutch at the front door.
While the outside of the basilica was a sight to behold, the inside was also breathtaking with mosaics and 240 stained-glass windows!
Even though my neck still hurts from all the Italian churches we toured last November, Janina, I still craned my neck to gaze at the gorgeous ceiling for you!
By the mid-20th century about two million visitors and pilgrims, roughly half of whom are from the US, visit the basilica yearly. In the short time we were there, we saw half-a-dozen plates from other US states. I was glad to finally visit the basilica for the first time.
I think this little chapel across from the basilica was likely the Sailors’ Chapel named for three boatmen in 1662 whose skiff was wrecked nearby and were said to be miraculously saved by St. Anne.
The very sleepy town of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré:
What a revolutionary way to adapt a church rather than tearing it down.
Not far from the town and basilica was the town of Montmorency known for its famous falls. After seeing the Tulip Festival in my hometown of Ottawa the previous day, it was a delight to see even more tulips at the Montmorency Manor.
When we got this close-up view of the falls, we had no plans to walk across the bridge!
Below us was the narrow strip of the road we’d recently driven en route to the basilica with the Ile d’Orleans bridge in the background.
The pathway behind the manor:
I think we were both very thankful we didn’t have enough time to figure out how to reach the other side of the falls and walk down that narrow path for another vantage point of the falls! Walking across the pedestrian suspension bridge not very high above the roaring falls was scary enough, thank you very much!
That was our high-wire act for the day!
About three miles east of downtown Quebec City, our destination for the next two nights, was Île d’Orléans. Though Steven and I had visited Quebec City on previous visits on the way to Atlantic Canada, we’d never stopped at the nearby island located in the Saint Lawrence River. As the island was one of the first parts of the province of Quebec to be colonized by the French, a large percentage of French Canadians can trace their ancestry to early residents of the island.
We saw many farmhands picking strawberries in the fields as we drove around much of the island.
I’d forgotten how many homes in rural Quebec had red rooves. Andree: Do you know why that is?
I figured this must be Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica on the other side of the river.
If we’d had more time, we’d have loved to take a stroll in the charming village of Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d’Orléans with its mid-19th century neoclassical homes and multi-colored rooves.
The village’s Eglise St. Laurent was a simple, elegant church that completely fit the aura of the island.
We then drove across the width of the island passing fields on both sides to see Sainte-Famille Church in the community of the same name. We were struck by the beauty all around us including the Laurentian Mountains dead ahead.
The road led directly to the island’s first community, Sainte-Famille. When the island’s first parish was formed in 1661, it was known until 1679 as Paroisse de l’Île. The parish municipality was established about two hundred years later. Sadly, the church was closed.
The former rectory had been converted into the Maison de nos Aïeux/House of Our Ancestors which provided an overview of the island’s history and its 300 or so founding families.
Across the street was the island’s church but the sign didn’t indicate whether it was elementary only or what level it went up to. Because of its location across from the church, it would have to have been a Catholic school.
Before driving around the island, I’d had no idea that there were so many farms and vineyards there. I could see visitors wanting to spend a few days on the island visiting its many wineries and pick-your-own berry farms!
The original Eglise St. Pierre was constructed from wood between 1673 and 1676 and served the faithful people of Saint-Pierre de l’Île until it no longer fulfilled the growing village’s needs. This larger church was built in the late 19th century.
Did you know the tradition of placing a rooster weathervane in church belfries dates started in the first millennium of the Christian era? Apparently, several mystical texts and poems described the rooster facing the wind and lit by the dawn’s first rays.
Steven and I were so happy we hadn’t hightailed it from Ottawa to Quebec City as planned but had taken the time to see the basilica, falls, and especially the beautiful island instead.
Apparently, one of the so-called coolest neighborhoods in Quebec City was Limoilou, which was described as being “full of cozy bars and cafes, artist boutiques, … and some of the best food shops in Quebec City.” Though we hadn’t chosen our hotel in the area for any of that, we had a terrible time finding restaurants open for dinner that night because we’d arrived mid-week and there were very slim pickings for anything open even on the main street!
This architecture was very typical of Limoilou and unlike any we recalled elsewhere.
Next post: Quebec City for real this time!
Posted on July 16th, 2022, from Grayton Beach, our very favorite state park on the Florida Panhandle that Steven and I find utterly peaceful and relaxing. I can hardly believe half our two-week sojourn is almost over – where does the time go?!
- Good Sunday morning Annie and Steven: These photos evoke so many memories for me as we visited these sites so many times as a family (Robichon) and then again when we had our own kids. Thank you 🙏. Best wishes from Tremblant. Xo
- I thought they might resonate with you, Lina. I still can’t fathom why being so relatively close all those years, I never saw them until this trip. Certainly better late than never. Have fun at Mont Tremblant. Love to all,
- Yes, lovely ceiling in the Basilica. Really neat falls. Janina
5 thoughts on “5/24/22: Wonderful Detour en Route to Quebec City!”
That basilica is stunning as are the waterfalls! This just proves that taking a slower route whenever possible really pays off 🙂
Wonderful collection of photos, Annie. The basilica looks stunning, but then most of them do, the opulence is really quite special. That photo of the stairs going down the cliff face and the bridge over the river look truly terrifying. No way could I even think about taking that on. Thanks so much for sharing your travel tips for Nova Scotia. And, too funny about the Dominion Hill Country Inn! Safe travels as you make your way home.
Ahh, you could have managed the walk along the suspension bridge easily enough. I’m with you all the way about the cliff face stairs though!
Looking forward to reading your posts about your travels through New Brunswick etc. Did you know it’s called the ‘pass-through’ province? Sad in my opinion as it’s worth far more time than that.
You’re finding some quaint little places by taking the slow route. Amongst the great photos, you managed to capture some neat little rainbows in the water of the falls. Great to uncover little gems that are only just off known territory.
Steven and I have enjoyed this slower way of traveling on this road trip. No reason to rush when on this extensive detour to Florida via Atlantic Canada. It’s been a delight finding places that are so near and yet so far.