The last time I went to Quebec, I didn’t go beyond Montreal. That was okay, because I was there for only a weekend. And I had a wonderful time, exploring its Biodome, Botanical Garden, and Museum of Fine Arts, which became one of my favorites in the world. I loved seeing its model of the Duomo in Florence. And I was especially intrigued by its extensive collection of pre-Columbian art and the similar representations of the human form in its Picasso paintings.
Montréal dates back to the 17th century, when the French began to settle along the St. Lawrence River. The fur trade helped the port city prosper, and left behind spectacular architecture. Old Montréal features centuries-old ornate Gothic-style buildings, including the Notre-Dame Basilica. Place Jacques-Cartier is a scenic public square named for the explorer who claimed Canada for France in 1535. And Saint-Paul Street, the oldest in Montréal, is lined with modern bistros and boutiques.
But Québec is more than Montréal. I tasted a sample of the Francophone province last week over lunch at Brasserie Jo at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston, where a dozen friendly representatives of the province raved about its range of travel possibilities. Not surprisingly, the best part of the meal was the dessert trio of creme brulée, chocolate mousse, and Alsace brioche bread pudding. All three were fabulous, and French, but very different from one another.
So they were a sweet symbol of the range of experiences available in Quebec. Bordering Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as New York, the province has several of the best things about New England, including seafood and four seasons, starring an annual autumn of glorious foliage. But its French heritage gives it a more sensual texture.
And I like sensual texture. So I’m ready to experience the spas and wineries of its eastern townships, explore one of its 24 provincial parks, take a scenic cruise on the St. Laurent, and poke around Old Quebec City, basing out of its Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, celebrating its 125th birthday.
It’s time to go back to Quebec. Maybe I’ll see you there!