Vas-y à Québec et Montréal (Let’s go to Quebec and Montreal)


Fiona Spillane, Contributing Writer

Early morning rise, before dawn, the group of French I and IIIA students, along with language department chair, Elisabeth Mansfield, and language teachers Christopher Tutolo, and Teresa Calvo-Martinez, met before security at LaGuardia Airport for a school-sponsored French immersion trip to Quebéc and Montréal from May 4th to 8th. We split up to find food and eventually rejoined the group in time to board our flight. The plane ride was quick, just a little over an hour, and by 10:45 a.m., we were in Montréal, Canada!

Upon our arrival, we had to go through customs and take a 3-hour bus ride to Quebéc City. After arriving in Quebéc, we started on a walk led by our tour director, John. The first landmark we visited was the Plains of Abraham, a fort-like site where the British fought the French army and forced them to surrender. Next, we walked along the sides of the walled-in-fortress and had a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River. We eventually reached Château Frontenac, a beautiful historic hotel filled with old French architecture. Although we didn’t go inside, the exterior view was enough to wow us. We continued to Vieux Quebéc (Old Quebéc), where our tour guide showed us many historical buildings and enthralled us with the stories behind them. We had some time to wander around ourselves, so we walked around the cobblestone streets and took snapshots of the colorful European-like city. Eventually, it was dinner time: We ate pasta, chicken, soup, and some delectable maple cake. We then returned to the hotel for the night and rested up for another jam-packed day. 

The next morning, we were up before seven and were eating a breakfast of two croissants and some hot chocolate by 7:30 a.m. From there, we boarded the bus and began our drive to the Village de Hurons, an old, indigenous village carefully curated to educate tourists on the life and history of the Huron people. Our tour guide showed us dream catchers, long unique houses, and snowshoes they wore when hunting. We then continued to the lower parts of Vieux Quebéc, where we visited the Muséum de Civilization and l’escalier casse-cou (breakneck steps) and explored the village. We did some more shopping, and many of our group members rode the Funiculaire de Vieux Quebéc, a steep, uphill train that takes you from the lower parts to the upper parts of Old Quebéc. We met at Place Royale, where we saw the Notre Dame des Victoires and the Rue de Saint-Jean. We then returned to the hotel for some downtime before going to a traditional sugar shack where they make maple products. We were introduced to the maple process and tasted maple butter before dinner. Dinner was a delicious breakfast-for-dinner style meal with ham, sausage, home fries, and soup. For our first dessert, we had crêpes topped with maple syrup. We were then allowed to make our own maple taffy lollipops by spinning maple syrup onto a stick. For our third dessert, we roasted marshmallows over the bonfire at the sugar shack. We finally returned to our hotel and began packing our suitcases for Montréal the next day!

Our first stop on the three-hour journey to Montréal was a diner near the Basilica of Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré, which was our second stop. It is a gorgeous castle-like historical monument just outside Québec and one of Canada’s eight national shrines. Next, we arrived at Montmorency Falls, a waterfall even taller than Niagra Falls! We walked across the bridge that spans the two sides of the waterfall, and many of us walked down the steps to get a better view of the scenery. Once we arrived in Montréal, we visited the Biodome in the Olympic Park. We saw capybaras and spent time in a Sub-Polar region with ice covering the walls! Before dinner, we had time to walk around the city, so we split into groups and shopped for family and friends. Eventually, it was time for dinner, and we regrouped at the restaurant, where we had burgers and chicken and a slice of carrot cake for dessert. After a long day of travel, we finally reached the hotel, returned to our rooms, and got ready for the next day. 

The following day, we ate breakfast at our hotel for the first time on the trip. After, we left and walked with our tour guide to the starting spot for our historical landmark scavenger hunt. We split into groups and had a list of places and things to find throughout the neighborhood. We went to the Montréal theater and the Bonsecours market and found the word “hôtel” painted on a wall. Next, we visited the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, where we saw indigenous graves and the original foundation of the building that was Montréal’s first bank. We then went to the Montréal Science Centre, which had interactive games and activities such as testing the speed of your shot in hockey and spinning coins down a funnel. After that, we had some free time and many of us went on a ferris wheel with breathtaking views overlooking the entire city. We met back up to see the Notre Dame Basilica, one of the city’s oldest churches and buildings. After exploring, we had some more free time to wander around the city. We went to a crêperie and enjoyed sweet and savory crêpes in traditional French fashion as our final dinner in Canada. 

Our last day in Canada began with breakfast at the hotel and then a drive up to McGill University College, where we walked around the campus and explored the library. Our bus driver, Steve, took us to Mount Royal Park, where we had an incredible view of the entire city. We then spent some more time in the metropolitan area and did some last-minute shopping in the streets of Montréal. At 2 pm, we boarded the bus to head to the airport, where we sat for three hours before departing back to New York. After five days of sightseeing, crêpes, and poutine, it was difficult to leave our tourist bubble, but we were all ready to sleep in our own beds that night.