One of the perks of my job is that I am able to ‘escort’ passengers on shore excursions. Having explored every crevice of Quebec City’s Historic Old Town by foot, cable car, motor coach and taxi it was high time I got out of town to explore the phenomenal natural beauty that is just minutes outside of town.
This tour entailed a short bus ride ‘up-river’ to the Isle of Orleans, or ile d’Orleans, where we visited both a historic manor and traditional Quebecan sugar shack; this was followed by coffee and snacks atop the Montmorency Manor, which overlooks the magnificent waterfalls by the same name.
The Mauvide – Genest Manor was built by Jean Mauvide, a young surgeon, shipbuilder and business man (a DOUBLE MAJOR?) who amassed a fortune and was appointed Seigneur of the west half of ile d’Orleans in 1752. A costumed guide illuminated us on the history and significance of the artifacts on display. This historic home is a gem of Quebecan history and architecture. However, I was far more taken by the natural beauty of the island and most especially by our visit to an authentic Quebecan sugar shack or Cabane a sucre. Quebec’s most famous culinary export has to be maple syrup. Unlike the Aunt Jemima variety, real maple syrup is made by boiling and reducing sap from a maple tree (I actually had to explain the difference to someone the other day). I delighted in gorging myself on maple taffy. Also known as ‘sugar on snow’, the maple syrup is warmed slightly and then poured over freshly packed snow. After a few minutes the confection has congealed and can be wound around wooden sticks and eaten like a Popsicle.
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is located just a few minutes from Quebec City and is one of the province’s most spectacular sites. At a height of 275 ft, they are almost 100 ft higher than Niagara Falls. There are staircases that allow visitors to view the falls from numerous perspectives. The suspension bridge over the crest of the falls provides a spectacular view!