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Chute-Montmorency and Île d'Orléans

Our third and final day in Canada was Sunday, July 2. The weather was predicted to be wet so we decided to go where getting wet wouldn't be a deterrent. But first, a mandatory stop at Tim Horton's for coffee and some goodies for the road. We drove Highway 73 north past the off ramp to downtown Quebec City and continued north, then turning to the east on Highway 40.

We arrived at the Parc de la Chute‑Montmorency in a light rain. After purchasing our tickets we proceeded to the parking area below the Manoir Montmorency and near the upper funitel (gondola cable way) station. This funitel carries passengers between the base and the top of the falls. We looked it over but decided to do some hiking instead..

The Montmorency Falls (French: Chute Montmorency) is a large waterfall on the Montmorency River in Quebec, Canada. It's about 12 km (7.5 mi) from the heart of old Quebec City; the area surrounding the falls is protected within the Montmorency Falls Park (French: Parc de la Chute-Montmorency). The falls are at the mouth of the Montmorency River where it drops over the cliff into the Saint Lawrence River opposite the western end of the Island called Île d'Orleans. The waterfalls are 83 m (272') tall, a full 30 m (99') higher than Niagara Falls. The park includes "THE ZIP LINE"; which they advertise, "don't be intimidated by the mighty cascade! Challenge Montmorency Falls by approaching it like never before. Perched at the top of the cliff and stretching some 300 metres, the zipline enables people to cross Montmorency Falls cove before landing near La Baronne observation deck. With feet dangling in the void, you’ll feel the waterfall as it roars and the drizzle as it caresses your face." Well, we decided.... no thank you!

The suspension bridge over the crest of the falls provides access to both sides of the park so we walked across the bridge to the other side and then the staircase all the way to the bottom! These staircases allow visitors to view the falls from several different platforms along the route and provide spectacular perspectives of this natural wonder. Clinging to the flank of the cliff, this impressive staircase features no fewer than 487 steps.

From the bottom of the staircase we proceeded along a cement walkway to the lower viewing platform/bridge over the river. We decided to take the cable car back up the hill to the parking lot rather than hike in the rain. We got a little wet but this was an awesome experience. We loved the idea we could literally walk the entire perimeter of the falls; it is very impressive!

Next on our self-guided tour was Île d'Orléans (Island of Orleans), located in the Saint Lawrence River about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of downtown Quebec City and across the bridge from the waterfall park. It was one of the first parts of the Quebec province to be colonized by the French and a large percentage of French Canadians can trace ancestry to early residents of the island. The island has been described as the "microcosm of traditional Quebec and as the birthplace of francophones (having French as the main language) in North America.

The island had long been inhabited by Indigenous peoples. The Hurons called it Minigo (meaning "Enchantress") because of its charm. The French explorer Jacques Cartier first set foot on the island in 1535 near the present-day village of Saint-François. He called it Île de Bascuz (from Bacchus) because of the abundance of wild grapes growing on the island. Officials later changed the name to Île d'Orléans in honor of the second son of King Francis I, who became Henri II, Duke of Orléans.

Early French settlers, mostly from Normandy and other provinces in northwestern France, were attracted to the island because of its fertile soil. They colonized it according to the seigneurial system of New France, which is still evident in its layout by featuring residences close together with outlying long and narrow fields and a common. In 1661, the first parish of Sainte-Famille was founded, followed by another four parishes in 1679 and 1680.

Today the island is a mix of suburban communities and farms and is a popular destination for day trippers and bicyclists. The Island known for tranquil natural scenery as well as regional dining, local eateries, produce stands & art galleries. We drove clockwise around the entire island stopping at one produce stand for some fresh des fraises (strawberries) and eventually stopping for lunch at Cassis Monna & Filles.

After trying Poutine in Sherbrooke, QC and not being very impressed, I never thought I would order it again. But this restaurant's menu intrigued me with their description of the version they prepare. So I tried the Duck Confit Poutine with Le Capiteux wine sauce (Poutine au confit de canard* & sauce au vin de cassis Le Capiteux) and it was AMAZING. If you don't want to have this dish as a meal by all yourself, I'm sure other people in your party would be willing to take a few bites; Karen did! She elected to have a lovely mushroom quiche with french fries and a salad. We both enjoyed our meals and the view.

We decided we needed to start our return trip back to Maine no later than 2PM to avoid driving in the dark. So we bid a fond "au revoir" to Quebec and journeyed the four hours back to Newport, Maine stopping only for diesel fuel. And unfortunately, no moose sightings on the return trip.


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