Bonjour! Are you still with me? To continue, as we approached the Ontario/Quebec border, I frantically began developing survival strategies to avoid admitting that I had lost nearly all my junior high school French. As we drove along, I begged Paul to converse in that language and not to laugh at my hideous pronunciation. As he tutored me, I began to recall nouns but no verbs or any other parts of language. (The bonus was that I finally found where all the nouns in English went when I passed fifty. You know, “Honey, have you seen my…? to which Honey replies, “It’s on the…!) I knew that I could say, “toilettes?” and dance a wee jig, say, “cafe?” and use a pretend cup to illustrate, improvising along the way.
I needn’t have worried. Quebec, celebrating its four-hundredth anniversary, was ready for us! We had five glorious days in Old Quebec, riding the funicular from Lower Town to Upper Town, walking the narrow cobblestone streets and enjoying wonderful buskers, fabulous street music and thrilling, living history in its architecture. And the people! They were such wonderful hosts! Our first evening there, we met two women who were very helpful and who also wanted to use their English with us. They told us of places to see and shops to visit. I had decided to clutch the LeRobert and Collins Dictionaire under my arm everywhere I went and they assured us we would most likely not need it.
We visited Chateau Frontenac (even caught a glimpse of Celine Dion’s mysterious black limo leaving the hotel for her outdoor concert on the Plains of Abraham). We chose instead to attend the evening fireworks on the North Shore of the Saint Lawrence River. Quebec City had arranged a transportation system that allowed us to park our van outside the city limits, get picked up and then be returned anytime before 11:00 p.m. so we could forget the worry of parking.
Leaving Quebec City was very hard to do. Yet, we had the Maritimes and especially Newfoundland to experience so on August 24, we drove out of Juneau Campground, through Quebec City and crossed the Pierre Laporte Bridge. We spent several days driving Highway 120, also known as Chemin de Roy – the King’s Highway. We passed through village after lovely old village with homes planted so close to the road you could nearly shake hands with the folks sitting on their porches. There is a sense of grandeur even in the tiniest houses and clearly, history has been unconsciously integrated into the character of each. Always, there was the very old, venerated cathedral with enormous graveyards. Many souls had come and gone in these places!
One evening, we pulled into another charming village named L’Isle Verte. Have you ever found a little place that feels like it has been dropped down from the heavens just for you to enjoy for a little while? This was it! Elegance and camping don’t usually go together but there it was, and we had it all to ourselves. Camping du Foubourg and L’Isle Verte shall always be the one place that I remember about rural Quebec. I believe I left another piece of my heart there, for I know that one day I will return.