The city is obscured in a thin fog with the oranges and yellows of autumn sneaking through around the spires of churches and modern steel towers. The park is dripping softly and the battlement tower watches the unchanged river slink past. As I write the sun peaks through the fog illuminating the water droplets around our sixteenth floor corner room. The church up the block has a statue atop that is not a weeping angel but looks it for all the world from this distance.
We arrived under the cover of night across the wide truss bridge and down a neat tree-lined avenue. Hôtel Le Concorde was impossible to miss brightly lit and sitting atop a rise next to the park.
Having cried in joy crossing the border and gotten hopelessly lost thanks to the gps not understanding that Rte 73 was under construction, my expectations were very low and my emotions were raw when we arrived here but since have been completely reversed. Mainers who visit Québec invariably bring back the same report. “Everyone was so friendly!” I think this is for two reasons. First, the common belief that Parisians are rude has spilled over onto the wider Francophone population. Parisians have a high standard of manners as Anastesia explains here, (btw f you are remotely interested in anything French I recommend Anastesia’s youtube chnanel.) as well as a particular expectation of pronunciation which even French speaking tourists admit is intimidating. That is happily not the case here. Second, if you have been a tourist to Boston, New York etc. your expectations of enthusiastic and polite service are necessarily very low.
Looking out over this city and walking the manicured streets I can imagine how easy it is to be happy in these surroundings. Happy people give great service and this has been our experience from the girl at Tim Horton’s girl in Beauceville, to the night clerk who happily ran all our credit cards until one wasn’t blocked chatting about his similar experiences outside the country all the while. Special thanks is owed to the concierge who immediately gave us valet parking when the garage was full, helped us with our bags erasing our frazzzled mental state in the process and generally getting our stay off on the right foot.
I have not been in Canada for longer that twenty four hours in fourteen years, therefore this trip will be and has been incredibly emotional. However so far it has been good emotions. Our adventure through the hills of rural Québec were more comical then frustrating as we bumbled down a dirt road toward a woodpile that the GPS thought was a road that led to the highway. The people have surpassed all expectations already and the view in phenomenal. The only things that have gone wrong have been the gps and our credit union not following instructions, which quite frankly I expected.
So far we have been to Le Billig Crêperie-Bistro which serves gluten-free buckwheat crêpes and have decided to do brunch there everyday that we can. To begin with they don’t even open until eleven making them a perfect fit to our schedule. The fact that they are gluten-free is key to my happiness and on top of that the service is incredible. A bowl of café au Laité really amps you up for a day of wandering and the very idea of ham and potatoes au gratin on a crêpe is beyond belief. Noyan is a wonderful local cheese. Menus were available in English. Our waitress was happy to speak English to us which only motivates one to pick up French as quickly as possible to return the favor.
My soul is awakening in ways I had only hoped as I adjust to the positivity around me. Later an art museum and more walking. For now I am content to reflect to the upbeat strains of Le Vent Du Nord and let this egg attack pass. This city is amazing, a liberal Prime Minister is assuming power as we speak and all is right with the world.