I’ve always held a fascination with the history and legacy of French colonialism in North America, so where Daniella had her Rockies experience on the west coast, I was to have my Francophile indulgence towards the west.
If you’ve been reading our blog posts in order, you’ll know that we kind of bitched about Calgary feeling like America. It’s always a very poor reflection on anyone to compare new experiences to something familiar, so, call us broke – Quebec feels a lot like France.
I’d like to say it’s not that people speak French (Australians speak strined English but aren’t “English”), but it is… even if a little bit.
It’s the French, and it’s the rows of stucco’ed stacked townhouses with claustrophobic, six-foot ceilings and wrought iron balconettes, and it’s the rich choice of local fresh cuisine, and churches peeking round every corner of a winding, cobble-stoned street, and the romantic feeling of being somewhere old and knowing that – for a moment – it feels like that romantic vision of Hollywood tripe you could easily digest and still have enough room for crepes afterwards.
So, what’s not like France?
I guess the wait staff are generally less like French staff off the tourist route in that most are bi-lingual and extremely accommodating of our poor French, though in retrospect this may be due to their close proximity, regular interaction and the better neuroplasticity of youth in regard to linguistics, and proximity to their English-speaking neighbors and countrymen.
It also seems to cost a little less. Which is nice.
Stepping outside of the popular tourist boundary of the old city wall of Old Quebec City we expect to find something closer to the real experience. So we walk, and walk, and walk, and find (withing reasonable walking distance) nothing but what seems like European charm in old tenements, churches and mansions.
Historical charms on every corner that seem to largely go unnoticed, gardens and new growth in any and every spot of dirt anywhere, greened copper and bright zinc roofs and shady avenues.
The bad news?
Despite seeing poutine advertised across Canada so far, we’d made the decision to delay indulging until we were in its cultural birth place of Quebec. Two large orders of poutine (chips topped with cheese curds and hot gravy) for lunch at a recommended restaurant left us a little disappointed – good, but not great. I’m sure the poutine was good, but I have an unfortunate habit of creating elaborate expectations of experiences via self-denial and delayed satisfaction that are rarely fulfilling when lived.
Here’s the image dump.