Editor’s Note: This is the third article documenting our Quebec Trip with Bellport High School. Refer to this link to read our post about day one; this link to read our post about day two and finally, this post to read about day three.
After three incredible days travelling across Montreal and Quebec City, one might think that we would run out of things to do but, in reality, the province of Quebec has so much to offer that you would need an entire month, if not more, to truly grasp how amazing it is. The first three days were special in their own right but it was day four that left the biggest impression. In fact, I would say that the two biggest highlights and the two best places we visited were scheduled on this day.
It all started with a visit to the trendy Cosmos Café (a hip restaurant known for its excellent breakfast, hip atmosphere and gorgeous décor), before boarding the bus and making our way to Montmorency Falls. Located about 13 km’s (8 miles) outside of Old Quebec, Parc de la Chute Montmorency is one of the top attractions in Quebec City and with good reason. At a height of 83 meters, Montmorency Falls is the tallest waterfall in all of Quebec and stands 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls. The site serves as a year-round destination for visitors, offering an array of outdoor activities, an international fireworks competition (with the falls as a backdrop) and for the more adventurous, you can even go zip lining. Just be warned, the park is huge and since it’s quite a hike, I recommend wearing proper footwear to ensure you don’t slip. We actually opted out of taking the cable car to the top and chose to climb the 487-step mountainside staircase instead. Along the way, we passed by several gazebos, each of which provides excellent viewpoints and allowed us to snap a ton of photos before and a large suspended bridge which allowed us to cross over the crest of the falls. After a great workout, we reached the bottom of the falls where we took the opportunity to get soaking wet and cool down from the record-breaking heatwave that week.
From Montmorency Falls we headed up to Sainte-Anne Canyon, a spectacular, steep-sided gorge, carved by the Sainte-Anne-du-Nord River, 6 km east of Beaupré, Quebec, Canada. The canyon is part of the Canadian Shield, a fundamental rock formation dating back 1.2 million years and receives over 100,000 visitors per year. At Canyon Ste-Anne, you will get to view a gorgeous waterfall plunging down jagged rocks from three different suspension bridges on your adventure. There are three main bridges from my count, including the McNicoll Bridge which towers 180 feet above the river below and offers the best panoramic view. From the bridge, we hiked down a path through the forest and learned about the park's history, geology, flora, fauna while also observing other tourists partake in ziplining and rock climbing. Montmorency Falls may have offered us the best scenic views but Sainte-Anne Canyon was far more relaxing and to top it off, we had an outdoor Bar-B-Q set up for our lunch in the back lot.
The fourth day of our trip was all about enjoying the great outdoors and next on our list of things to do was a tour of l'île D'orléans. For the unfamiliar, the island was one of the first parts of the province to be colonized by the French, and a large percentage of French Canadians can trace ancestry to early residents of the island. The island has been described as the "microcosm of traditional Quebec and as the birthplace of francophones in North America. A trip around Île d'Orléans is a delightful way to embrace the rural tradition of Québec with its magnificent landscapes extending along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. It’s also the best place to get a panoramic view of Quebec City!
The final stop of the day was what everyone on the tour was impatiently awaiting – a visit to the Sugar Shack! We drove out to La Beauce, the maple syrup capital of the world, to enjoy a traditional sugar shack meal and learn traditional dances and folk songs at the famed Cabane à Pierre Sugar Shack. Quebec is home to hundreds of the best cabanes à sucres (sugar shacks) in the world and according to the Quebec Federation of Maple Syrup Producers, in 2017 our 3,700 maple syrup producers harvested 152 million pounds of maple syrup. Needless to say, it’s a big attraction in the Belle Province and come spring, thousands of tourists congregate in country cabins, sit at long communal tables, sip on cider and eat lots and lots of good food dipped in – you guessed it – maple syrup. And while not always described as ‘all-you-can-eat’, it is almost impossible to leave hungry.
For some people, a trip to the sugar shack is a simple afternoon outing but for the students from Bellport High School, it was a major event. I’ve never seen a group of kids break out in song and dance so quickly. Three hours later, the students were still dancing thanks to a live band who performed both traditional French Quebecois music and modern pop tunes. By the end of the night, everyone was on the dance floor, including the teacher, tour guide, and staff.
We were more than halfway through our trip but it was hardly over. With two more days to go, I couldn't help but wonder what else we could do and more importantly, would I have the energy to continue. Tune in tomorrow for a full report of the final two days. In the meantime, feel free to browse some more photos below. Enjoy!
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine