After exhausting our recreational options in the Oneida Lake, New York area, we decided a road trip would be good for us all. Another stamp in the passport would do us some good. So we planned our late-July adventure to Quebec, Canada. We would venture up from Syracuse, along Lake Ontario, cross at Thousand Island State Park, and drive along the Saint Lawrence River until we reached Quebec City.
It look a leisurely half day to get to Quebec City. English road signs gave way to French ones topped with the tell-tale fleur-de-lis. One by one the timeless farmhouses and old silohs of New York gave way to newer, sleeker ones. Vibrant green crops and patches of trees lined the highway. We pulled off the road at a small grassy rest stop. Just next to the restroom were two phone booths with glass enclosures. Along the top the blue sign read “Bell” in white letters. We haven’t had pay phones in California in 20 years, moreover, the Bell company had been long gone. Later that day we stopped at a McDonald’s where the iconic Golden Arches were adorned with a red maple leaf and the happy meal came with a French language child’s book.
As we entered approached the city there was a beautiful river walk with modern art sculptures and locals riding their bikes. We stayed at the Hotel Clarendon in Haute-ville. It is an extremely walkable city and it was quite pleasant to walk to dinner with our toddler in tow and no stroller. There is no doubt that Quebec City is a tourist trap, but a welcomed one. There are street performers in the city square and artists offering portraits along the walkways. I found it to be a very clean and friendly place. The Canadian park service offered an inexpensive tour of the historic sites, which gave us a better understanding of how New France became a part of the British commonwealth.
Walking through Quebec City is like taking a stroll through a history book where New England and New France collided and French culture still prevails. The locals greet tourists with a heavy French accent and an inclusive, “Bonjour, hello!” The tourists from all areas of the world were all quite thankful for the bilingual locals. There are large grey stone fortress walls still standing, cobblestone roads reminiscent of France, and variations of poutine available at every québécois restaurant. For children, there is a splash pad in the square adjacent to the Hotel Clarendon. We couldn’t have chosen better accommodations. What luck!
On our way from Quebec City to Montreal, we decided to spend a few hours at Montmorency Falls, just a 10 minute drive outside of the city. I love standing at the top of a grand waterfall, where the peaceful river trespasses no sign of the forceful falls just feet away. Montmorency Falls is taller than Niagara but much more slender. There are even several playgrounds at the top for families to rest and enjoy the view. It was the cherry on top of an awesome road trip.
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