Yup. It’s a boating term. Spending time “on dirt” means we’re off the water and living on land!
With Misty out of the water, we’re thrilled to be in a place we love, with people we love and tons of great things to do. We took the time to explore and revisit places in and around Burlington, and decided to take a trip to Quebec City, a place long on our bucket list. While we can’t offer specific boating advice to our boating friends planning a trip up the St. Lawrence, we can tell you…GO! Quebec City is spectacular, and has a very European feel. We loved it, and would definitely visit again…maybe when we’re back in Vermont for the holidays!
This is a very walkable city, and it deserves walking! There is so much to see and it’s all charming and beautiful! The streets are narrow and cobbled, you’ll stumble on the old city ramparts throughout the city, the architecture is incredible, and flower boxes and planters burst with color.
Quebec City is full of surprises, discovered during all of our wanderings. Murals, sculptures, street performers, walls and turrets, parks, fountains, cannons and more! Even window boxes become works of art!
Scenes around Quebec City
We stayed in Upper Old Town near Rue Sainte-Jean, one of the main streets in Upper town. Part of the city fortifications were right down the street, and Rue Saint-Jean is lined with cute shops and restaurants. If you wander down Rue Saint-Jean from the city ramparts towards Chateaux Frontenac, you’ll pass the beautiful Basilica of Notre Dam on Rue de Buade in Upper Town.
Basilica of Notre Dam
It’s especially fun in the evenings, when the street closes to vehicular traffic at 5:30, and the restaurants set up tables on the sidewalks. Everyone is out and about, and street performers are everywhere. Here’s a glance at the Upper City:
There is a vernicular that travels between Upper and Lower Old Town Quebec.
Lower town is, in our opinion, a bit more charming with it’s narrower, winding streets that are largely pedestrian walkways. While Upper Town is certainly lovely, there is a vibrancy about Lower Town that makes it a bit more boisterous! There are a lot of charming shops and galleries, and an abundance of places to eat. The small, beautiful Place Royal is a cobblestone square surrounded by 17th and 18th century buildings. This is where French-America was born, as the first French settlement was started here in 1608.
Old Town is down by the river, where there is a lovely park and promenade near the cruise ship terminal.
While the lower portion and entry of the Parliament Building is currently being renovated, and surrounded by fences and some scaffolding, it’s still worth the visit. They have surrounded the building with mesh fencing that has a photo of the building on the front, so you can see what the bottom part of the building looks like. The towers and sculptures on the building are magnificent, and the gardens are spectacular.
The Parliament building and gardens
A visit to Quebec wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Citadelle. La Citadelle is an active military installation, and since 1920, it has been home station to the 22nd Regiment to the Canadian Armed Forces. It is also the official residence of both the Canadian Monarch and the Governor General of Canada. The Citadel is the oldest military structure in Canada, and forms part of the fortifications around the city. Quebec and Campeche, Mexico, are the only two cities in North America still surrounded by fortifications. From June 24 through the first Monday in September, members of the 22nd Regiment conduct a changing of the guard ceremony at 10 am. Inspired by the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the ceremony is filled with pomp and circumstance, with the troopers decked out in their Scarlett regimental uniforms and bearskin hats. It includes troop inspection, marching and formations with their military band and mascot, Batisse, the goat. Guided tours of the Citadel are offered immediately following the ceremony. Take time to enjoy the spectacular views from The Citadel, as it sits at the highest point of the city.
One day was spent exploring outside the city. Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is a beautiful park 7 1/2 miles outside of Quebec where you can see the spectacular Montmorency Falls up close. You can take a cable car to the top, where there is a lovely inn (that serves lunch), and a path to the overlook and walking bridge over the falls. There’s also a crazy flight of stairs you can climb if you are so inclined. You’ll also see rock climbers and zip liners as you explore the falls.
After leaving the falls, we headed over to Ile d’Orleans, known for it’s farms, vineyards and beautiful views of Quebec City and the St. Lawrence. We explored the shoreline, stopped at a strawberry farm and ate a quart of strawberries as we drove. 🍓SO delicious!
We had seen a cute inn mentioned on Trip Advisor, Auberge la Goeliche, and as it was noon, and we were hungry, we stopped. This charming inn sits at the tip of the island, with a patio right on the river. The food was wonderful, and the service was warm and friendly.
Auberge la Goeliche
Since we we were staying in Upper Old Town, we had dinners there, as it was more convenient after a long day of exploring the city. When we arrived, we had a quick, late lunch at Chez Ashton to taste the famous Canadian dish, Poutine. We had read that they specialize in fast, good Poutine. Poutine is a dish of potatoes topped with cheese curds and gravy. Everyone raves about how delicious it is. We’re thinking we didn’t get a good version, as we were unimpressed, and felt like we had lead in our bellies! We’ll have to investigate before we try it again!
We had a great dinner our first night at BeClub Bistro Bar, on Rue Saint-Stanislas, just off of Saint-Jean. It’s small and cozy, with lots of brick, wood, leather and fur. They make everything there…their breads, sauces, sausages, smoked meats and more. We shared the charcuterie, presented to us by the chef, a beautiful filet and homemade sausage. All fresh and farm to table. Delicious and reasonable, with excellent, friendly service!
A delicious & fun dinner at BeClub Bistro Bar
We we had read about the Steak Frites at L’Entrecotes Saint- Jean on Rue Saint Jean, so we decided to have dinner outside and check it out. While it wasn’t all we hoped it would be, it was good, the frites were great, as was the service. The best part was the people watching, as it was after 5:30 and the street was closed and we had a great table on the sidewalk to see everything.
Aux Ancien Canadiens, in the historic Maison Jacques dating from 1675 is the oldest house in Quebec. We had read great reviews, the menu looked interesting and the building is remarkable, most especially when you consider it’s age. The food was great, as was the service, but be aware that the portions are huge. Rob enjoyed one of their famous meat pies, and it was incredible, but gigantic!
There are so many historic homes throughout Quebec City, some open for tours. While we missed those tour times, we did make a visit to Maison J.A. Moisan, a wonderful gourmet grocer at 699 Rue St. Jean. Founded in 1871, this charming store stocks hard to find products from various regions of Quebec, such as cheeses, produce, meats and charcuterie. You feel transported in time when you walk through the doors, as the store still has all of the original display cases, woodworking and ceiling, all in beautiful condition. The upstairs home of the founder is now a B&B.
After leaving J.A. Moisan, we stumbled upon a cute little French restaurant…now we definitely need to go back to Quebec City so we can go there!
And of course, no visit to Quebec would be complete without tasting their popular chocolate dipped ice cream treats! Even the ceiling has simulated chocolate drippings! Yummy, but once is enough. Kind of like Poutine!
We returned to Vermont in full Birthday celebration mode, as Justin had his 30th birthday on July 26th. His dinner request was the Inn at Shelburne Farms, and we were happy to oblige! This is a magical place.
Set on 1,400 acres, Shelburne Farms was built by Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb in 1886, and earned National Historic Landmark status in 2001. We have both dined and stayed here, and while it’s pricey, it’s worth every penny. The setting, the farm, the buildings, the gardens and the staff are magnificent. As this is still a working farm, they are largely self sustained, raising their own cattle, lambs and pigs, making their own butter, growing their vegetables and flowers (which are artfully placed EVERYWHERE in the inn and restaurant). We will, sadly, tell you not to order any meat. It’s puzzling, but our experience is that they do poultry, fish, veggies and desserts extraordinarily well, meats, not so much. We have had tough and tasteless cuts. However, this does nothing to take away from the wonderful experience of being at the Inn at Shelburne Farms.
Celebrating Justin’s birthday at the Inn at Shelburne Farms
The Inn is lovely and beautifully kept, as it was when it was the Sewards home, and you feel it. The furnishings are authentic to the home, the views are magnificent, and the fresh flowers are both beautiful and fragrant.
There is Shelburne Farms cheddar cheese next to the hostess stand and bar for guests to enjoy, and they also place cheese, crackers and apples in guest rooms. The attention to detail is incredible, as we know from staying there, and being “stuck” there during Hurricane Irene in 2011. There are Adirondack chairs scattered on the sweeping lawn down to the garden and lake. It’s become a tradition for us to get a drink and settle in those chairs overlooking the lake and relax before dinner. There are views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance, and beautiful sunsets over the lake.
Cocktails on the lawn
The rooms are beautiful, and offer incredible lake views. You can only get to the Inn by car if you are an overnight guest or if you have a dinner reservation. You can take tours via a carriage ride for the 2 mile trip out to the Inn, and you can see the first floor of the Inn and enjoy the gardens, tour the barn (it’s incredible!) and grounds. The grounds also deserve exploring, as they were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who also designed New York’s Central Park.
Dining on the patio, the Inn at Shelburne Farms
Since Misty was still out of the water, we spent the next week with the boys and explored the area. We have always wanted to take The Toll Road up at Stowe. In the winter, this is one of the easier ski runs on Mt. Mansfield, and in the summer, you can drive nearly to the summit of Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. You can park your car and walk a short distance for magnificent views on both sides of the mountain.
At the top of Mount Mansfield
We also revisited Shelburne Museum, as the first time we were there it was cold and snowing! This time it was hot, humid, then rainy, but it didn’t matter. This is one of the most unique museums you will ever see. Founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb (who married Lila and William Webb’s eldest son), was an avid collector of all kinds of Americana, including duck decoys, circus animals, dolls, furniture, quilts, American paintings, and even buildings, a covered bridge, a lighthouse and the 220-ft. steamship Ticonderoga. The museum began as a place to display the family collection of horse drawn carriages, but soon grew to become a village of historic buildings, filled with Electra’s world class collections.
Some of the Collections
A stay in the Burlington area would not be complete without riding some portion of the Champlain Bike Trail. The trail runs from Oakledge Park (also lovely), which is just south of Burlington, and runs up to the Winooski River, north of town. The path from Burlington south to Oakledge has great lake views, a few nice beaches, and some fun sculptures along the shore.
The Burlington bike path
Just north of the Winooksi River is our favorite part of the path: The Colchester Causeway, just a couple of miles from Justin and Bryan’s home. The bed of an old railroad trail, the Causeway is a flat path that goes three miles out into the lake, ending up at the bike ferry that takes you over to South Hero Island, where you can continue biking. This is an fabulous bike ride with spectacular views!
We spent as much time as possible at the beach with Madison, as it was hot and she LOVES the lake! She’s always the first one in the water, and begrudgingly, is always the last one out!
Justin’s birthday was a Thursday, and it was kicked off with a fun bowling outing, and a yummy Bobby Flay barbecue dinner at home. Misty will be back in the water on Friday, and we’ll spend a long weekend on the hook exploring some new anchorages on the Lake with the boys! More boating to come!