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Publication: Weekend GetAways
Experience Québec City

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       WEEKEND GETAWAYS - Friday, January 25, 2008
    Make The Most Of Your Vacation - From Coast to Coast!

Greetings Getaway Lover,

Experience Québec City 

Québec City is widely considered to be the most French 
city in North America; roughly 95% of the people who 
live here claim French as their mother tongue. Along 
the banks of the St. Lawrence River is the Lower Town, 
or Basse-Ville, the oldest neighborhood in North America. 
Its time-worn streets brim with up-to-the-minute shops, 
charming restaurants, and art galleries, as well as 
touristy stores, all housed in former warehouses and 
residences. You can see the rooftops of the Lower Town 
from the Terrasse Dufferin boardwalk in Vieux-Québec's 
Upper Town, or Haute-Ville. The most prominent buildings 
of Québec City's earliest European inhabitants stand here. 
One often-photographed landmark is the castlelike Fairmont 
Le Château Frontenac, a hotel with copper-roofed towers 
and a commanding view of the St. Lawrence River.

Happy Trails,


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Experience Banff & the Canadian Rockies 

Comparing mountains is a subjective and imprecise 
business. Yet few would deny that the 640-km (397-mi) 
stretch of the Canadian Rockies that runs along the 
Alberta-British Columbia border easily ranks as one 
of the most extravagantly beautiful ranges on earth. 
Approaching the mountains from the east, you are 
struck by the wall of rock on the western horizon, 
made more dramatic by the bright snow that clings to 
the upper slopes well into summer. Near the south end 
of the range, in Waterton Lakes National Park, the 
view is particularly striking as the gently rolling 
prairies abruptly butt up against the rugged mountains. 
Farther north, in Banff and Jasper national parks, 
tree-covered foothills roll out of the mountains.
It's obvious how the Rockies got their name. Awesome 
forces of nature combined to thrust wildly folded 
sedimentary and metamorphic rock up into ragged peaks 
and high cliffs. Add glaciers and snowfields to the 
lofty peaks, carpet the valleys with forests, mix in a 
generous helping of small and large mammals, wild-
flowers, rivers, and crystal-clear lakes, and you've 
got the recipe for the Canadian Rockies. There are vast 
stretches of wilderness that are virtually untouched 
by man in this part of Canada, the birthplace of 
Canada's national park system. About 25,000 square km 
(roughly 10,000 square mi) -- an area larger than the 
state of New Hampshire -- are protected in seven 
national parks in the Rockies and the Columbias. The 
only significant clusters of human settlement are in 
the town centers of Banff and Jasper, Waterton Park, 
and the area around Lake Louise. Wildlife is abundant, 
and from the highway you can see glaciers, lakes, 
valleys, and snow-capped mountain peaks. Although all 
roads in the Rockies offer stunning scenery, the 
Icefields Parkway, with more than 100 glaciers along 
the way, is without doubt the most impressive. Even if 
you're on a tight schedule, make a point of driving at 
least part of it.


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Antiques district 

Stores / Malls, Lower Town 

Antiques shops cluster around rues St-Pierre and St-Paul. 
Rue St-Paul was once part of a business district packed 
with warehouses, stores, and businesses. After World War 
I, shipping and commercial activities plummeted; low rents 
attracted antiques dealers. Today numerous cafés, 
restaurants, and art galleries have made this area one of 
the town's more fashionable sections.

Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Québec 
Religious Sites, Upper Town 

This basilica has the oldest parish in North America, 
dating from 1647. Its somber, ornate interior includes 
a canopy dais over the episcopal throne, a ceiling of 
painted clouds decorated with gold leaf, richly colored 
stained-glass windows, and a chancel lamp that was a 
gift from Louis XIV. The large and famous crypt was 
Québec City's first cemetery; more than 900 bodies are 
interred here, including 20 bishops and four governors 
of New France. Samuel de Champlain may be buried near 
the basilica: archaeologists have been searching for 
his tomb since 1950. There are information panels that 
allow you to read about the history of this church. Or, 
if you prefer, there are guided tours available.

Couvent des Ursulines 
Religious Sites, Upper Town 

North America's oldest teaching institution for girls, 
still a private school, was founded in 1639 by French 
nun Marie de l'Incarnation and laywoman Madame de la 
Peltrie. The convent has many of its original walls 
intact and houses a little chapel and a museum. The 
Chapelle des Ursulines (Ursuline Chapel, 10 rue 
Donnacona, Upper Town. No phone. The chapel is open 
May-Oct., Tues.-Sat. 10-11:30 and 1:30-4:30; Sun. 
1:30-4:30. Admission is free.) is where French general 
Louis-Joseph Montcalm was buried after he died in the 
1759 battle that decided the fate of New France. In 
September 2001, Montcalm's remains were transferred to 
rest with those of his soldiers at the Hôpital Général 
de Québec's cemetery, at 260 boulevard Langelier. The 
exterior of the Ursuline Chapel was rebuilt in 1902, 
but the interior contains the original chapel, which 
took sculptor Pierre-Noël Levasseur from 1726 to 1736 
to complete. The votive lamp was lighted in 1717 and 
has never been extinguished.

The Musée des Ursulines (12 rue Donnacona, Upper Town. 
418/694-0694. Admission is C$6. The museum is open May-
Sept., Tues.-Sat. 10-noon and 1-5, Sun. 1-5; Oct., Nov., 
and Feb.-Apr., Tues.-Sun. 1-4:30.) was once the residence 
of one Madame de la Peltrie. The museum provides an 
informative perspective on 120 years of the Ursulines' 
life under the French regime, from 1639 to 1759. It took 
an Ursuline nun nine years of training to attain the 
level of a professional embroiderer; the museum contains 
magnificent pieces of ornate embroidery, such as altar 
frontals with gold and silver threads intertwined with 
semiprecious jewels. In the lobby of the museum is the 
Centre Marie-de-l'Incarnation (10 rue Donnacona, Upper 
Town. 418/694-0413. May-Oct., Tues.-Sat. 10-11:30 and 
1:30-4:30, Sun. 1:30-4:30; Feb.-Apr., Tues.-Sun. 1:30-
4:30), a center with an exhibit and books for sale on the 
life of the Ursulines' first superior, who came from 
France and cofounded the convent.

Other Places of Interest:

Edifice Price 
Architectural Sites, Upper Town 

Styled after the Empire State Building, the 15-story, 
art deco structure was the city's first skyscraper. 
Built in 1929, it served as headquarters of the Price 
Brothers Company, a lumber firm founded by Sir William 
Price. Don't miss the interior: exquisite copper plaques 
depict scenes of the company's early pulp and paper 
activities, and the two maple-wood elevators are '30s 

Escalier Casse-Cou 
Architectural Sites, Lower Town 

The steepness of the city's first iron stairway, an 
ambitious 1893 design by city architect and engineer 
Charles Baillairgé, is ample evidence of how it got 
its name: Breakneck Steps. The 170 steps were built 
on the site of the original 17th-century stairway 
that linked the Upper Town and Lower Town. There are 
shops and restaurants at various levels.
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Au Jardin du Gouverneur 
$, Upper Town 
User Rating: *** 3.4  
This cream-color stone house with windows trimmed in 
dark blue is an inexpensive, unpretentious hotel behind 
the Château Frontenac. Light-wood furnishings and two 
double beds fill most of the rooms. The stairs are steep 
leading up to the fourth floor, where many rooms have 
sinks in the corner and only a shower.

Château Bonne Entente  
$$-$$$$, Ste-Foy 
User Rating: ***** 5.0  

Now a member of Leading Hotels of the World, the Château 
Bonne Entente offers modern simplicity at its finest. Its 
classic rooms have been redone in 2006 with white duvets, 
marble bathrooms, and refinished wood furniture. Urbania 
-- a boutique hotel within the château -- offers guests 
tall ceilings, leather headboards, and satinlike bedding, 
as well as plasma-screen TVs and bathrooms right out of a 
design magazine. Urbania has a Zen-like lounge called the 
Living Rouge, with white couches, chairs, and a red ceil-
ing, where breakfast, coffee, and cocktails are served. 
Fine dining is assured. Watch the chefs prepare your dish 
and savor the experience of the outside grill or lounge. 
Golf and spa-going are favored pastimes; guests can tee 
off at nearby La Tempête, and Amerispa runs the luxurious 
spa. The hotel is 20 minutes from downtown, with free 
shuttle service June through mid-September.

Courtyard by Marriott Québec 
$$-$$$, Carre d'Youville 
User Rating: ***** 4.7  
This former office building exudes a quiet elegance with 
stained-glass windows, two fireplaces, and a tiny wood-
lined corner bar in the lobby. At the restaurant in back, 
you can dine around the open kitchen or on the mezzanine. 
Wood furniture fills the modern rooms, most of which are 
decorated in blue and beige. The least expensive standard 
rooms face an office building. The best views are from 
rooms at the front, overlooking place d'Youville. The 
washing machine and dryer are a rarity in downtown Québec 

Aux Anciens Canadiens 
$$-$$$$, Canadian, Upper Town 
User Rating: **** 3.7  
This establishment is named for a 19th-century book by 
Philippe-Aubert de Gaspé, who once resided here. The 
house, dating from 1675, has servers in period costume 
and five dining rooms with different themes. For example, 
the vaisselier (dish room) is bright and cheerful, with 
colorful antique dishes and a fireplace. People come for 
the authentic French-Canadian cooking; hearty specialties 
include duck in a maple glaze, Lac St-Jean meat pie, and 
maple-syrup pie with fresh cream. Enjoy a triple treat 
of filet mignon -- caribou, bison, and deer -- served 
with a cognac pink pepper sauce, or wapiti with a mustard 
sauce. One of the best deals is a three-course meal for 
C$14.75, served from noon until 5:45.

Café-Boulangerie Paillard 
¢-$, Cafe, Upper Town 
User Rating: ***** 5.0  

Owned by Yves Simard and his partner Rebecca, originally 
from Michigan, Wisconsin, this bakery beckons you inside 
with its selection of Viennese pastries and gelato. For 
a quick, inexpensive bite, there's soup, sandwiches, and 
pizza. The decor is simple and comfortable. There might 
be a line while the locals buy their lunch, but it's well 
worth the wait.

Chez Victor 
¢-$, Fast Food, St-Jean-Baptiste 
User Rating: ***** 4.8  

It's no ordinary burger joint: this cozy café with brick 
and stone walls attracts an arty crowd to rue St-Jean. 
Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, pickles, hot 
mustard, mayonnaise, and a choice of cheeses (mozzarella, 
Swiss, blue, goat, and cream) top the hearty burgers. 
French fries are served with a dollop of mayonnaise and 
poppy seeds. Salads, sandwiches, and a daily dessert are 
also available.


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