I had a grand day playing tourist. To begin with I had to figure out a way of getting from
without having to pedal upward all the time. It would have been a lot easier if
I had a decent map, but with what little I had I cut north, to a small creek,
rightly thinking that all small rivers lead to the big river. Good luck was
with me, and after zig-zagging a bit I found a bicycle path that took me all
the way to the wharves, and from there to the “low city”, which was the original
location of the settlement founded by Samuel de Champlain in the 1608. This low
part of the city is on a narrow bar formed at the foot of the cliff, and is now
occupied by all sorts of quaint shops arranged around the original church and
its small plaza. I decided to park my bike in this part of the town, and after
wandering through the lively streets I worked my way on foot up the cliff to
Vieux Québec. Laval
Vieux Québec is a citadel atop a very steep cliff, surrounded by ramparts where cannons made it impregnable (until the British scaled the cliffs about a mile downstream and defeated the French army in the
Battle of the Plains of Abraham
on September 13, 1759). The old city is dominated by a castle-like resort that
looks very ancient but is probably no more than 80 years old, and by the
original buildings of Université Laval, which grew from the Seminar de Québec,
established in 1663. The university is the oldest higher education institution
I wandered happily among the old buildings, window shopping and enjoying the
very European feeling of the old city.
Another unique attraction of the old city is the Promenade des Governors, which is a broad walking path that hangs off the cliff and connects the old city with the old fort and the Plains on Abraham to the west. Besides being a favorite path of joggers and tourists, it is probably the best place to admire the
St. Lawrence River as it widens downstream from the city.
Thoroughly relaxed after my promenade through the city I took to my bike, and went all around the city and up the southern shore of the river. Hundreds of people were there, happily bicycling along (a few couples and families, but also lots and lots of singles), or roller blading. At the very end of the bicycling path there is a small park with many young trees, which has been taken over by the reading society. Mostly older couples bring their folding chairs, get under the shade of one of the young trees, and read to their hearts’ content, enjoying the view of the river and the gentle breeze. I was energized to do the same thing, pulled out my Kindle, and promptly dozed off.