Favorite Cities: Québec

View of Quebec Skyline from La Citadelle

One of my favorite cities in North America is French-speaking Québec. Martine and I have visited it twice, once staying in the city itself and once at Lévis, a short ferry ride across the St. Lawrence. It is a wonderfully walkable place, with spectacular views, fascinating little museums such as the old Ursulines’ Convent, and delicious French Canadian food. It is surrounded by 17th century ramparts which can be walked in several hours.

Many of the buildings along the St. Lawrence waterfront are built to resemble 17th century buildings, though they were built much later. There is even a funicular to take one from the waterfront up to the level of the city.

My Favorite Restaurant in Canada

To enjoy Québec to the fullest, it helps to be able to speak some French. Like the Parisians, the Québecoises appreciate it when visitors try to meet them at least halfway. Even when they speak perfect English, some of the residents will pretend not to, especially if they have reason to think that tourists are being ugly Americans.

One of my favorite restaurants in Canada is Aux Anciens Canadiens in the Old Town. Check out the menu, which comes in French and English. And enjoy your caribou and Canadian maple syrup tartine with cream. If you don’t mind having dinner late in the afternoon, lunch prices prevail until 5 pm.

In the weeks to come, I will name some of my other favorite cities around the world.

Thinking About Quebec

17th Century-Style Buildings by the Harbor in Quebec City

17th Century-Style Buildings by the Harbor in Quebec City

Today, Martine and I had dinner at a French Canadian restaurant in Westwood: Le Soleil on Westwood Boulevard. While I am dreaming of going to Peru, Martine would like to revisit the Province of Quebec and perhaps drive around a bit. It’s possible that I may yield to her: There is something about Quebec that draws out the Frenchwoman in her, and where else in North America can one feel so much like being in Europe?

What most people don’t know is that there is a part of Metropolitan France right off the south coast of Newfoundland. The islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, a short ferry ride away from the town of Fortune, Newfoundland. The islands are all that remain of the extensive lands of New France lost to Britain in the French and Indian War. It is a little known fact that, during Prohibition, Chicago gangster Al Capone used the islands as a base for illegally importing wine and liquor into the United States. I don’t know if it’s feasible to include St. Pierre and Miquelon on a trip to Quebec, as they are many hundreds of miles apart; but perhaps some day….

I’m glad that Martine liked the Boeuf Bourguignon and Crême Brulée at Le Soleil. She tends to think that most French restaurants in L.A. are not sufficiently authentic, but this Quebecois restaurant seemed to have some of the real stuff.