Driving to Quebec was the main goal for this Thursday. Since we decided to do the drive in the afternoon, we had time to see a few more sights in Montreal during the morning and lunch hours.
These pictures document this day's adventures.
We started the day with a short stroll from our hotel to Rue St-Denis, a nice street we've visited multiple times. This route shows our path.
Once there, we had a simple breakfast at our destination, La Brioche Lyonnaise, sitting outdoors at a table by the street. Here's my review.
After breakfast, we visited the Quebec National Library on our way back to the hotel. It's a great library: large (as it should it be since it's the province's flagship one), pleasant, and welcoming, and with a good mix of French and English books. Smartly located, it's built above the city's largest metro station, a place where multiple lines cross. Making library access easy is commendable.
Since we were there and hadn't yet seen the inside of a Metro station (because we found it easy to walk everywhere), we went underground to explore. The station was big, stocked with magazine shops and fast food joints, and generally unremarkable, reminding me of Penn Station in Manhattan.
Walking back to the hotel, we passed some sort of gathering or protest in a square. It wasn't clear what was happening. It may simply have been a fire alarm in the building across the street.
We checked out of the hotel and drove a short distance to Parc Lafontaine, where we circumambulated for about an hour. (We saw pretty much everything.) It's a pleasant park surrounded by a generally residential neighborhood. I don't have much to add that's not in the pictures except a comment on what my Fodor's guide book said:
Montreal's two main cultures are reflected in the layout of this popular park: the eastern half is French, with paths, gardens, and lawns laid out in geometric shapes; the western half is English, with meandering paths and irregularly shaped ponds that follow the natural contours of the land.The description makes this distinction sound clear / obvious. It's not. We generally found it hard to distinguish the two halves.
After another short drive to stop by Square St-Louis, we began to head out of town. Our main detour before leaving town was the Jean-Talon market.
Jean Talon Market:
Jean-Talon Market was the star of the day. It puts San Francisco's Ferry Building to shame. The Jean-Talon Market is a huge farmers market, open every day, surrounded by many bakeries and specialty food shops (e.g., cheese). And it even has a food-books-only bookstore, much like the one I spotted in Vancouver. The market is in the style of the ferry building and its market, but it's just much larger, like one took many of the bay area farmers markets and put them all in one location and kept them open constantly. Furthermore, some of the vendors are more impressive than those at the ferry building: one vendor had more types of potatoes than I've seen in one place; another had the same with apples.
Apparently someone set up a scavenger hunt at the market, forcing people to find particular booths or shops and get a sheet stamped. I love activities that encourage people to explore cool places.
We made lunch from items we picked up at the market:
- an olive, garlic, herb loaf of bread. Quite good. We had some left over and snacked on it at times over the next few days.
- fruit: peaches, nectarines, raspberries, and an Asian pear (which disappeared quickly).
- sausages: one duck (tasty, very soft); one bison (chewy, gamy).
- a slice of double chocolate cake.
Driving to Quebec:
For the first half of our drive to Quebec, we passed through forests awesomely colored by autumn leaves. En route, we took a fine excursion through the quaint, small downtown of Three Rivers. Its waterfront has nice bridges, views of rivers, and walking paths.
One church we found, Notre-Dame du Cap-de-la-Madeleine, is remarkable. Sure, it's a big, impressive church. But it's notable in that it has a great view of the water, a nearby pleasant leafy park with statues, an attached restaurant (!), a gift shop, and more.
We took highway 138 from Three Rivers to Quebec, passing many single-family houses with good views of the river. We didn't stop to photograph any. I imagine they're inexpensive given their location in the middle of nowhere in an area that gets serious winters.
It was dusk when we arrived in Quebec.