It took 2 days to drive to Quebec and as soon as we entered the state we were amazed at just how similar the countryside is to France. We passed through many villaages along the south of the St. Lawrence river and all of them had houses and other buildings just like the villages in France. Even the trees lining the roads were the tall thin cypress trees you see in France. another surprise was the number of French speakers which is 95% of the population. Having obviously always known they were French speaking in Quebec we didn't realise that most of the population speak Frennch and some even no English. All the road signs are in French and most of the menus.
We drove into Quebec City, North America's only walled city north of Mexico City and were amazed at how beautiful the city is and so unlike any other American/Canadian City with beautiful parks and flower filled gardens. The old town is very quaint and hilly with narrow cobbled streets overlooked by the majestic Chateau Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world. The best way to see Quebec is on foot as it is suprisingly small and easy to get around the cafe thronged streets.
We strolled around the town stopping for cafe au lait, french onion soup and croque monsieur, people watching and listening to the street musicians. The city was getting busier and busier by the hour and as we sat in the hotel's revolving restaurant admiring the view we could see the streets and parks filling with thousands of people. It turned out it was St John Baptiste day a sort of Quebec independence day. We went out later aboutt 10p.m. and the streets were packed with young people joining in the celebrations which was a fabulous atmosphere.
The only downside to things was that alcohol played a huge part of the evening and people literally had rucksacks and cool boxes stuffed to the brim with beer and even bottles of spirits like Jack Daniels and Vodka. Broken glass was strewn all over the roads and pavements and with what we estimated to be about 250,000 people it was a bit of an accident waiting to happen. We were a bit surprised that at an event like this people could bring glass bottles as at home mostly these days beer is sold from tents and served in plastic glasses. Our hotel was right in the centre of things and the party went on until dawn the next morning.
The next day the cleaners came annd did a good job clearing up all the cans, bottles and vomit and re-planting all the flowers they had obviously previously removed from the flower beds and apart from the odd comotose body here and there in the bushes you would never have known what had taken place the night before.
Back to normal once again Quebec was beautiful, 28 degrees with people walking, cycling , sailing along the St Lawrence River and thronging the narrow lanes and classy shops of the old town. We walked the city walls and visited the citadel and in the 3 days we had here just about covered everything we wanted to see. During the evening the balmy temperatures meant everyone was sitting outside the hundreds of restaurants, so much choice it was difficult to pick where to eat.