Visiting Sainte-Anne de Beaupré With a Dog – Quebec, Canada
On the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, approximately 20 miles from Quebec City, is the tiny village of Sainte-Anne de Beaupré, home to the Canadian Basilica of the same name. I am told, this major Catholic shrine and place of healing attracts a whopping 1 million pilgrims a year.
To get from Quebec City to the Basilica of Sainte-Anne de Beaupré, you have two options:
1) Boulevard Sainte-Anne (highway 138). You will arrive in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in about 25 minutes.
2) Avenue Royale (a.k.a. Route de la Nouvelle France or even Chemin du Roi), one of the oldest roads in Canada. It will take you a little longer, but it is picturesque with old examples of modest settler homes. Worth it!
We took Boulevard Sainte-Anne to go and Route de la Nouvelle France to return to Quebec City.
Now, we aren’t religious folks. So, you might ask why we would stop to see this site. Simply put, it is gorgeous. The Basilica is not dog friendly and the village is so small there really isn’t anything else to do other than the Cyclorama of Jerusalem. So, if you want to go inside Sainte-Anne de Beaupré, you’ll have to go with someone and take turns so that one person can stay outdoors with your canine companion while you go ahead and visit inside. The grounds are rather large and you can thus split up the pleasure of looking at the exterior and the interior.
Note: At a friend’s suggestion my Mom called – after our visit – and asked if they do a blessing of the animals. Sadly, the answer was no. *gasp*
The bipeds recommend you take advantage of the audio guide rental when visiting the Shrine to walk you through the rich history and magnificent architecture of one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in North America. Audio guides are available at the Shrine’s Information Kiosk and the rental fee is $5.75 per person (at the time of our visit).
I find it interesting, historically speaking, that very little is known about Saint Anne. In fact The Bible says nothing about her. Yet, from what I have read, other writings that circulated in the early Church speak about her and tell her story at great length. The mosaic of the Basilica’s central vault illustrates many accounts found in these early writings. I suppose, devotion to Saint Anne is grounded in something simple: The belief that the Virgin Mary had a mother, and being the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus is presumably and logically sufficient reason for the Church to have a great veneration and respect towards Saint Anne and build her this massive Basilica.
I’ll leave all other theological debate and discussion to those who enjoy it and simply say that to us, the Basilica is a masterpiece and a grand lady worth a stop on any voyage to the region. It’s artistically, architecturally and historically an important Quebec landmark. Even if you are not religious you will enjoy the stories of all the “miracles” that it has delivered over the years.
At the entrance of the Basilica are pillars of crutches, each one from a pilgrim who came needing them and apparently left without. You will be enchanted by the fine and detailed craftsmanship and unique art. Frankly, the ornate copper front doors alone are worth a stop. I personally enjoyed dipping my paws in the cool water of the fountain at the centre of the front “park”.
If you need a place to spend the night in the area and do not wish to do so in Quebec City you may find the Econo Lodge Hotel reasonably priced. All the rooms are pet friendly.
In review: Sainte-Anne de Beaupré is not a dog friendly village as such, but with nothing else to really do other than to visit the Basilica, it’s possible to enjoy a stop there. The grass and garden at the front of the Basilica are available for a great stretch of the paws on a long road trip and a fun photo opportunity as well.