Day 12: SACRIFICING A WATERFALL FOR THE OLD CITY
It was 6:30am when we awoke to the alarm. We knew that we needed an early start in order to visit both Chute d’Armagh and Chutes de la Chaudiere while trying to see the Old City of Quebec during the daylight hours. And given the pace at which we were waterfalling on this trip, I had a feeling that this might be a bit too ambitious.
Once again, it took a bit of time to get ready so it wasn’t until about 7:50am when we finally got into the car. It was chilly in the morning, but it was surprisingly sunny. I thought today was supposed to be mostly cloudy.
Anyways, as we drove out of the car park, we went back down to the rue St-Jean where Julie could get her fix of croissants at the boulangerie Paillard. This place definitely took its time as I had to keep Tahia company while she was already getting bored waiting for Julie to come back with the brekkie.
Eventually a little after 8am, we headed out in search of the autoroute. The GPS kept insisting on me taking the ferry across the St Lawrence River, but it wasn’t until some 30 minutes later did we finally figure out that I should’ve routed to the Chutes de la Chaudiere first before going to the Chute de l’Armagh.
And as it was well past 8:30am when we finally got onto the autoroute after driving a very long stretch of surface streets and traffic lights, I decided that we should visit the Chutes de la Chaudiere first. And then make a decision on whether we should visit Chute de l’Armagh or just sacrifice it so we could spend the rest of the day touring the very city we were supposed to see (and the very reason why I chose to spend an extra third night here).
At 8:40am, we arrived at the car park, which already had a handful of cars.
And as we looked towards a partial view of the falls from the first viewpoint, I could clearly see that the falls would be seen against the morning sun (only partially muted by the high clouds rolling in). Not only that, but from looking at the map here, there would have to be some walking to do in order to really experience this waterfall so for sure that would take more time than a typical roadside attraction.
In hindsight, I really wished we could’ve squeezed in a visit to this waterfall after Chute Montmorency yesterday afternoon, and then devote this morning only for Chute d’Armagh. But I guess that’s why hindsight was always 20/20. It was always easy to second guess how things played out.
At least the bright side was that this waterfall was free. The bad thing was we could clearly see evidence of man-modifications above the falls (namely some kind of barrage [i.e. dam] holding up the Chaudiere River) as well as the presence of power lines everywhere that kind of took away from what otherwise would’ve been a very majestic and powerfully wide waterfall.
Right off the bat, Julie and I thought of this falls in the same way we thought of Shoshone Falls in Idaho. There was so much potential there, but it was kind of ruined by all this infrastructure. Nonetheless, the falls were impressive and we made sure to experience as much of this as we could despite the poor lighting conditions (afternoons were definitely better, it seemed) as well as all the modifications around it.
We let Tahia walk around without having to carry her in the child carrier. We figured to make this a similar experience to how we experienced the Canyon Sainte-Anne. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be too tired to the point that we’d have to carry her by our arms.
After going through the first partial views of the falls as we descended steps, we then found a series of steps leading down to the river bed. We could see that we’d be able to get more ground-level views of the Chutes de la Chaudiere, but the sun was already too high on the horizon so we would have some pretty dark photos with some bright washed out spots in the same photo.
Eventually, Julie and Tahia followed me down the steps onto the rough surface of the riverbed, but we had to keep a very close eye on Tahia because the surface had simply too many potholes and mini-dropoffs that could easily induce “owies” on her.
So we didn’t linger down here for too long.
Then, we went back up the stairs (trying not to get in the way of a guy who was doing stairs here for exercise) and continued along the wooded path towards the suspension bridge (or the “passerelle” according to the signs here).
As we got onto the bouncy bridge, we could see more of the segments of the falls (probably at least three of them that were somewhat easily visible from here) as well as a view of the autoroute and bridges looking further downstream against some Autumn colors.
Once we were on the other side of the bridge, we followed a walking path that flanked a mini-gorge that was the outflow of some hydroelectric facility. It looked like the outflow of the dam would come through this gorge.
As we followed this path towards the hydro facility, then quickly continued onto the wooded path as it rounded a little peninsula where the hydro outflow and the main part of the river converged, then we briefly walked back down to the riverbed to experience the ground-level view of the falls from the opposite side of the river.
Again, with the sun against us, the photos were terrible. And once again, we had to watch out for Tahia on the rough surface. We also had to be cognizant of the poison ivy that was growing low on the sides of the paved part of the trail.
As we werent higher on the established path on this side of the river, we got to some vistas that provided perhaps the best views of the falls that we were able to get to this point. That was because we were able to see all four tiers in a satisfying curved horseshoe shape. So that alone made the walk to this side worth it.
It was a good thing because we came to realize that the trail wouldn’t loop back to the other side. Clearly the barrage was impassable by foot. So that meant we’d essentially have to walk back the way we came back over the passarelle and then back to the car park (and not the other car park on this side of the river).
Tahia was getting tired so we had to start carrying her as we descended the steps to get down to the passarelle. And by 10:30am, we made it back to the car park where we noticed that the car park was suddenly quite full. It must be a very popular trail.
As a matter of fact, we encountered numerous families on this trail so it wasn’t so unusual that we let Tahia walk with us as other Quebecois families were doing the same thing.
Anyways, we were pretty much done with waterfalling on this day as it was now time to spend the remainder of the day touring Quebec City. Chute d’Armagh was pretty much sacrificed, which was a shame because that was also a pretty waterfall according to the research.
So we drove back to the familiar car park and got there by 11am as we drove on chemin Sainte-Foy and rue St-Jean so we could scope out where we needed to go.
It turned out that the happening part of rue St-Jean was just past where chemin Sainte-Foy became rue St-Jean. And it wasn’t much further east of that point when we saw Julie’s coveted crepe place called Le Billig.
After last night’s disappointing crepe, she was really looking forward to making amends by having crepe at this place, and it could very well be that we’d come here for lunch.
So we brought the baby carrier thinking that Tahia might be a little tired, especially knowing that we were intending to tour the city during Tahia’s typical after lunch siesta. So perhaps she might be able to sleep in the carrier even though she would be upright.
We walked down towards rue St-Jean and then followed it outside the Old City walls. As we were waiting for the Honore Mercier Road’s light to turn green for the pietons, we noticed there had to have been at least 4 or 5 fire trucks and a paramedic going past us and turning onto rue St-Jean going into town. We weren’t sure why, but whatever it was, it must’ve been a big deal to have that many service vehicles going in the same direction.
Eventually at 12:10pm, we entered Le Billig. At first, we had to sit at the bar, but then a table opened up and they put us over there for a little more comfortable seating.
It took us another 15 minutes before we could finally place our order, because everyone in the restaurant were busy. The cook was non-stop motion as she was preparing one crepe and then the next. Meanwhile, the pair of ladies doing the waiting and hosting duties were also frantically moving back and forth placing tables, seating guests, taking orders, and asking how each customer was doing.
But in the end, the slow service was worth it as we enjoyed a duck confit crepe called Le Bearn as well as some kind of scallop with scallions crepe. Actually the crepes were in those dark buckwheat galettes just like we remembered them when we had Normandie/Breton crepes in France. Even the dessert crepe of chocolate fudge with chantilly creme and an extra pair of vanilla ice cream scoops really hit the spot.
After the lunch ended at 1:25pm, we headed towards the fortifications (i.e. city walls) where we scaled the steps and walked along the walls. Sure it was not as dramatic nor as long as walking the city walls of Dubrovnik in Croatia, but it did lead us towards the edge of the Battlefields Park while passing by what appeared to be the Parliament House.
There seemed to be some kind of protest going on in front of the Parliament House so we kept our distance. From trying to decipher the angrily spoken French, it appeared that the motive was an anti-war demonstration, perhaps related to Syria.
Anyways, with Tahia on my back and wide awake, we generally walked uphill along this route until we were at the perimeter of the Citadel. From the outside, there seemed to be nothing interesting about the citadel, and we really didn’t feel like walking inside the main entrance.
When we got out to the view of the St Lawrence River overlooks, we then promptly went onto the familiar wooden Governor’s Promenade.
As the weather continued to deteriorate into increased cloudiness and uncomfortable cold wind chills, we followed along the boardwalk which turned out to be nothing all that special other than more wide and flat views across the river.
Ultimately, we walked over to the Escalier Frontenac where we descended the steps then entered into the lower Old City of Quebec. And eventually, we followed the signs and arrived at 3pm at the Place Royal, which turned out to be the familiar square that we saw on the first night after dinner. At least now we knew what the Place Royal referred to.
At this point, we let Tahia out of the child carrier so my feet, thighs, and hips felt some relief from not having to carry the extra 30 pounds anymore. And from that point, we walked around the lower old town looking for a dinner spot, which Julie had eyed the Le Cochon Dinque.
And then, we returned to our room at 3:50pm. Julie decided to lounge around in the room for the next 90 minutes or so. I knew that based on this decision, there was no way we’d be doing any more sightseeing, including touring the inside of the Chateau Frontenac. Not only that, but we probably were done taking any more sightseeing photos of the chateau in context from the lower old town like we had seen in the post cards.
I hope we wouldn’t regret this decision.
Anyways, at 5:05pm, we headed back into town headed for dinner. At this point, the clouds overhead got darker and the winds were definitely blowing and making things pretty cold. Even with my light jacket that usually makes me sweat in them, the wind chill was biting through that as well.
Tahia was also fussing because she missed out on all her naps today. So she wasn’t very hungry and she was very tired. Julie had to let Tahia sit on her while trying to eat and feed her simultaneously. And so the dinner was not a relaxing affair.
We had no room for dessert so we couldn’t try their maple sugar pie, and when we left the restaurant, it was almost dark and it was also starting to rain. So that pretty much killed off any aspirations of doing any more touring for the rest of the day.
At 6:50pm, we were back in the room. Thus ended this eventful day as we had the rest of the evening to unwind, pull stuff from the car (in the rain), and plot out how we were going to check out and get the car loaded up if it would rain heavily tomorrow morning when we leave for Montreal.
I guess we were due for some bad weather as we had been pretty fortunate on this first half of the trip through New England and then the first three days of Quebec. Hopefully, this change in the weather wouldn’t last too long…
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