Day 1 - Saturday, October 1: Montreal
Today we arrive in Montreal. Creative, cosmopolitan, cutting-edge or chic—call it what you want, one thing’s for sure: Montréal is captivating. Montréal lives in both French and English, but its multicultural population is really what shapes the cuisine, culture and conversation here. We will stay in Montreal for three nights.
Day 2 - Sunday, October 2: Old Montreal (B, D)
Today we will focus on "Old Montreal." Nearly 400 years of history are alive in a small area of cobblestone streets along the Saint Lawrence River. This historic district is highlighted by the Notre Dame basilica, where we will have a tour. While the exterior is a marvel and commands the Place d’Armes (plaza), it is the inside that is a true masterpiece with its resplendent wood carvings and stained-glass windows depicting the history of Montreal. As we tour the area, we will be seeing St. Paul street at one end, which is the oldest street in Montreal and the buildings, pavement and sidewalks represent 400-year-old architecture. At the other end is another of the oldest streets Bonsecours street. In between we will see the (a shopper’s paradise). The distinct charm of this area can be chalked up to its Montreal City Hall and Place Jacques-Cartier charismatic architecture, ease of walkability and the diversity of bars, restaurants, museums and boutiques that line its streets in all directions. Any given walkthrough will help remind you that Montreal once stood as the economic heart of Canada, painting a beautiful portrait of the wealthy financial institutions once backed by Scottish and British merchants.
It is in the neighborhoods of Old Montreal where one finds the truly unique culinary experiences. It is a Foodie paradise, which we will experience first-hand on a Montreal Food Tour. We will enjoy one of these neighborhood treats as we move from café, to market, to restaurant, to park as we pick our way through an assortment of gastronomical choices. It is the best way to “taste” the spirit of Old Montreal. Dinner this evening in Old Montreal.
Day 3 - Monday, October 3: Montreal (B, D, E)
Today we will explore the rest of the city including a visit to the first of our 5 shrines of Quebec - Saint Joseph's Oratory. Founded in 1904, Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal is the largest shrine in the world dedicated to Saint Joseph and a world renowned place for pilgrimage associated to Saint Brother André, its founder. Our day will continue with a visit to the Olympic Park and Botanical Gardens. The Since 1976 exhibition will take you on a journey to rediscover the history of the Olympic Park since the Games were here in 1976. The Montréal Botanical Garden, one of the city’s jewels, is recognized as one of the world’s greatest botanical gardens. With its collection of 22,000 plant species and cultivars, 10 exhibition greenhouses, it’s also a perfect place to enjoy fresh air and natural beauty. Tonight, we will enjoy a special dinner with entertainment at a traditional "Sugar Shack" or Sucrerie in French.
Day 4 - Tuesday, October 4: Trois Rivieres (Three Rivers) (B, D)
This morning we leave Montreal for Quebec City 3 hours further northeast along the St. Lawrence River. Along the way, we will visit the lovely village of Trois Riviere for lunch and a visit to the second of our 5 shrines of Quebec. Our Lady of the Cape Shrine is Canada's National Shrine to the "Blessed Mother." Standing on the shore of the Saint Lawrence River, the shrine welcomes over 500 000 pilgrims annually. With its beautiful gardens overlooking the river, the shrine reveals an oasis of greenery and inspires peace and tranquility. We will then travel on to Quebec City. So European. Old Québec, is a UNESCO World Heritage treasure. We will tour the only fortified city north of Mexico before checking into our hotel for two nights and enjoying dinner together.
Day 5 - Wednesday, October 5: Quebec City (B)
Today we will visit the Plains of Abraham. The site of many clashes for supremacy between the French and British Empires, the park is the scene of the 1759 Conquest, which changed the fate of North America. No tour is complete in Old Quebec without time for shopping and strolling the cafes, which we will do around our lunch time and visit the Petit Champlain quarter. While there we will also visit the 3rd of our 5 shrines of Quebec. The Basilica-Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec is now an Historical Monument of Québec and Canada and stands in the Historic District of Old Québec, part of the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Notre-Dame de Québec stands out as the first cathedral, the cradle of French civilization and the Catholic faith to be founded north of Mexico. This afternoon we will head just a short ride out of town along the shores of the St. Lawrence River to Montmorency Falls - 30 feet higher than Niagara Falls! Nearby we will visit our 4th shrine of Quebec and another example of how unique each shrine is, for this one seems to grow right out of the forest. The Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré is the second oldest pilgrimage site in North America. Dedicated to Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus Christ. We will also visit the Albert Gilles Copper Museum and Boutique. This is fine copper repousse work hand made by his family for the past 93 years. Each of us will be taught the craft by a family member. Albert Gilles himself crafted the basilica doors at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre! This evening we will enjoy dinner on our own in Old Quebec.
Day 6 - Thursday, October 6: Saguenay (B, D)
Today we begin our adventure into some of nature's truly profound visions heading north to Lac Saint-Jean and the Saguenay river. On the way, we will immerse ourselves in the traditions of the Huron-Wendat Nation in Wendake, where history takes you back to the 17th century. Dance performances, tales, and legends are our window into the collective imagination of this People. We will then continue to the last of our 5 shrines of Quebec deep in the woods of northern Quebec. On wooded grounds located at Lac-Bouchette, Ermitage Saint-Antoine de Lac-Bouchette is a destination appreciated as much by pilgrims as by people on an inner quest or travelers seeking natural beauty and tranquility. Founded in 1907 and managed by the Capuchin religious order, this national shrine represents the spirit of the land. Then we are onto the Kingdom of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean! Lake Saint-Jean is a huge inland fresh-water sea with more than 210 km of mostly sandy shoreline and surrounded by vast fields of wild blueberries. Here we will spend the night and enjoy dinner.
Day 7 - Friday, October 7: Fjord Cruise (B, D)
This morning we will take to the sea! We will be cruising the incredible Saguenay Fjords from Saguenay to L'anse-Saint-Jean. The 62 mile long Saguenay Fjord is the southernmost navigable fjord in North America. We will cruise between majestic cliff faces and small villages on either side of the river. Once we land, we will have time for lunch on our own before spending the afternoon driving back to Quebec City for our final night. We will enjoy a special farewell dinner in Old Quebec.
Day 8 - Saturday, October 8: Home (B)
This morning we will board our flight in Quebec City for home taking with us many fond memories of this spectacular province of Quebec and its magnificent Shrines.
TOUR COST PER PERSON - All land arrangements (airfare not included yet):
Per person paying passengers (20+ paying passengers)