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Day 1: Montreal (B, D)
Today we arrive in Montreal. Creative, cosmopolitan, cutting-edge or chic—call it what you want, one thing’s for sure: Montréal is captivating. Old in soul, but young at heart, Montréal has a storied past that includes First Nations settlement, French colony and a British stronghold. Its name comes from its centerpiece—the majestic Mont Royal, a gentle mountain that, throughout history, has been its backbone and backyard. From small beginnings, Montréal has blossomed into one of the world’s most modern and dynamic metropolises. You can see its European heritage shining through in the beautiful 18th-century buildings and cobblestone streets of Old Montréal. Montréal lives in both French and English, but its multicultural population is really what shapes the cuisine, culture and conversation here. This afternoon we will focus on "Old Montreal." This historic district is highlighted by the Notre Dame basilica, where we will have a tour. We will also have dinner this evening in Old Montreal. We will stay in Montreal for two nights.
Day 2: 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. Nature, music, art and history make the Oratory one of the main attraction of Montréal. The distinctive architecture of the building, and especially its imposing dome, combined with its location on the mountainside, gives to Saint Joseph’s Oratory a remarkable physical and symbolic presence in Montréal. 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 exhibition features a number of artifacts, as well as photos, video archives, interactive digital content, and even reconstructions made to the building. This permanent exhibit is located in the Montréal Tower, and provides a closer look at different aspects of the Olympic Park’s history. 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, Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion, and more than 20 thematic gardens spread out over 75 hectares, 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 3: Trois Riviere (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. Visitors can admire the historical chapel built in 1714, the oldest church kept in its integrity in Canada. A large modern basilica was inaugurated in 1964. Its stained glass windows are magnificent and the Casavant organ is one of the largest in Canada. 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 Europe. Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage treasure, is walkable and safe. We will tour the only fortified city north of Mexico and walk its cobblestone streets before checking into our hotel for two nights and enjoying dinner together.
Day 4: 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. It is the ancestor of all the Catholic parishes that have spread across Canada and the United States. Notre-Dame de Québec was a key player in the development of Québec, Canada, and North America. 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. Through the splendor of a sacred site that is rich with 350 years of history, the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré is the epitome of the Christian people’s faith and the welcome of all races, beliefs and conditions. Discover the shrine’s extraordinary history through its paintings, mosaics, stained-glass windows, and stone and wooden sculptures. This evening we will enjoy dinner on our own in Old Quebec.
Day 5: 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 6
Day 6: 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 the 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 7: Home (B)
This morning we will board our flight in Quebec City for home taking with us many fond memories of this spectacular destination from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Quebec City and beyond!