When I last wrote we were about to leave Rimouski and continue to head east to our next destination of Montmagny (pronounced: mo-ma-nee). We had spent a few hours in Rimouski after dinner (which we happened to have that night at a Quebec dining institution called St. Hubert BBQ) walking along the boardwalk which runs along the St. Lawrence river. In the day time we got a better look at the board walk on our way out of town and I wish that we had spent more than one night in Rimouski as it’s really quite an attractive town.
For some reason I was of the impression that Rimouski was some kind of industrial town with big smoke stacks and factories but it’s nothing like that.
Nonetheless, we head out of town and took the main highway and in a few hours we were to arrive in the town of Montmagny and the place we will be staying for the next few nights the Manoir des Érables.
I was really anticipating our visit to the Manoir des Érables as Barb and I had been here last February while we came to Quebec to visit the Winter Carnival and we had really enjoyed our stay here (see: Barb and Baden’s Excellent Quebec Adventure – Part 6). As you can see from the picture above and the picture from last year’s visit, there has been a fairly substantial weather difference since the last time that we were here. In fact I recall that on our last day of our visit last year I had to chip away about 1 inch of ice off the car as there was a ice storm the night before and pretty much everything was covered in ice.
In contrast, today (day 14) was around 24 degrees and sunny the entire day in Montmagny.
The Manoir des Érables is suitably named as érables means maple trees and the entire area around the manoir is full of the trees as is much of the countryside. Interestingly, many of the maple trees on the property are completely green and have not changes colour. This is likely due to the fact that the average temperatures in the area have been 5-10 degrees above normal and most trees require the cold night time temperatures to start their colour change. Nonetheless, we have driven around the small tows within 50-100 kilometers of Montmagny today and we were not disappointed with all of the incredible yellow, orange and red colour in the forests.
When we arrived in Montmagny yesterday we checked into the manoir then went into vieux (or old) Montmagny and had lunch at one of our favourite cafes called the Café Breton. Vieux Montmagny is really only a few streets but it adds a real old world charm to the town. Speaking of which, it’s almost incomprehensible how old many of the things are in this area. For example, the original house that the Manoir des Érables was built on was built in in the mid-1600’s. Montmagny and many of the towns in the vicinity were similarly started 300-400 years ago.
We had arranged to have dinner in the dining room at the Manoir on the first night that we would be staying here and from previous knowledge from our previous visit to Montmagny we knew to expect a first class meal and were not disappointed. I had ordered a venison dish labelled a “red stag” that turned out to be a succulent piece of meat that barely needed a knife as it could have been cut with a fork alone.
Our second day in Montmagny we spent initially going to some of the neighbouring towns in search of snow geese. October 5th is the start of the Festival de l’oie blanche (translation: Snow Geese Festival) which takes place in Montmagny every year. The festival usually coincides with the arrival of several hundred thousand snow geese on their migratory route from the arctic to warmer locations in the southern USA. Unfortunately, the geese seemed to be late this year and the indications are that the warmer than usual temperatures have delayed their migration south so we ended up only seeing a handful of the geese and not the huge flocks that were expected. As a result, Barb (who was the one of us who was most anxious to see the snow geese) ended up being disappointed.
For the rest of yesterday we drove around the neighbouring towns just enjoying the colours in the forests. We ended up picking up some local cheese, a baguette and a bottle of wine and made ourselves a picnic in one of the small towns called Ste. Apolline that we had come across. Barb and I remembered that the last time that we did this kind of picnic was in Paris about 6 months ago. Of course, Ste. Apolline isn’t Paris but the cheese, baguette and wine tasted just as good.
View of Old Quebec
Day 15 started with us checking out of the Manoir des Érables and moving on to our next destination which would be Quebec City. Barb and I had been here last February as we had started our Excellent Quebec Adventure in Quebec City and ended in Montmagny. As with Montmagny, the weather that we were experiencing in Quebec could not have been any more different than last year. Today we were enjoying sun and 25 degrees so we are certainly able to see the city without having to worry about wearing thick scarves and hats as we did last time.
One of the other big differences that we have seen as soon as we arrived in town is how many more tourists there are than before. The streets are clogged with tour buses and as there was a cruise ship in the harbour, several thousand additional tourists were in town today. We have been told that the cruise ship leaves tonight and there are none in town tomorrow so we will have to see how things go.
As we had arrived relatively early in Quebec City from Montmagny, our rooms were not yet ready so we dropped our luggage with the front desk of our hotel which is the Hôtel du Vieux Quebec and went out for lunch we went out for some lunch. Right next door to our hotel was a restaurant called Les Frères de la Côte and it happened to be pretty much full. This would be indicative of how the rest of the day would go.
When we were finally able to get a table at Les Frères de la Côte, we all enjoyed a round of beer then several of us ordered some pizzas. Mine and Peter’s was a Marguerite pizza which is a simple one with just cheese and a fresh herb topping. This also happened to be one of our favourite pizzas that we would usually order in Italy. The only difference is that in Italy this pizza is spelled slightly different and called a Margherita.
As we were walking around Quebec that day we noticed how many more people there were on the streets compared to our last visit last year. When I say “many more people” I’m talking about 5-10 times more people. As it turned out, there were two main factors for this. First, there was a cruise ship in town so there were probably about an extra 5 thousand people from this alone. In addition to this, we observed at least 10 tour buses driving through the streets of vieux Quebec adding lots of other people. If this is what it is like in October I can’t imagine what it will be like in the summer time. The crowds at that time of year in Quebec City must just be insane.
The next morning we continued to walk around the city and spent a bit of time in the Quebec Public Market on Rue Saint-Paul which is officially known as Le Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec. As we did before, we bought a selection of some great tasting cheeses, baguettes and also some delicious apple cider (as apples were in season in Quebec and with plenty of selection in most of the vendors) and with our food in hand found a nice secluded park bench to enjoy our lunch. The weather today was starting to cool down and it was no warmer than about 17 degrees and we only saw sun for portions of the day. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed these kinds of casual picnic lunches as much as in any restaurant.
The funny thing about our choice of a “secluded” spot for our lunch was that half way through our meal a film crew came by and started filming what looked like a television commercial about 10 feet away from us while we ate.
On the Road Again
Tomorrow morning we will be leaving Quebec City and heading to our next destination in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec. A few days after that we will be in our last destination of Montreal. My final chapter of Our Excellent Eastern Canada Adventure will be posted some time during our stay in Montreal.