Continued Visits to Quebec City With a Dog – Quebec, Canada
Having previously written about Quebec City, I will not repeat what was already mentioned in that post (Château Frontenac, the boardwalk, the Funicular, etc.). I will simply invite you to first read it so you can, like me, focus on what was new to us this time around!
We were lucky enough to actually have good weather on July 9th 2012: warm and sunny with big white fluffy clouds. So we quickly decided that with only 2 hours at our disposal, before heading home to Ottawa, we would focus on two things we had previously missed. Finding as many of the murals of Quebec City as possible and locating some canine friendly eateries!
Over the last 12 years a number of fresco paintings, also called murals, have come to adorn the walls of Quebec City. It is nice to see a return of this art form that was so popular with the Romans and Greeks as a way to tell a story. Granted, in ancient times this method was used largely due to low literacy rates, but although that has changed, we can’t argue that stories of historical figures or of a legend somehow seem more compelling when presented in this format. It does make us wonder why urban planners don’t use this more often.
These frescos are becoming tourist attractions in their own right and a major component of the city’s heritage. They go a long way to illustrate and depict the history of the city and its inhabitants and visually help visitors from increasingly diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to discover the unique past of this corner of the planet.
We were happy to discover that the murals are an ongoing heritage project that will continue to change the face of Quebec City for years to come – we can’t wait to see what will be next! They are a wonderful use of un-interesting space, add a splash of colour in a city plagued with poor weather and are just simply aesthetically charming.
The first and most obvious mural worth mentioning is the one in Old Quebec’s Place-Royale. Honestly you can’t miss it. Called the “Fresque des Québécois”, it is five stories high and depicts the unique architecture and fortifications of the city. It shows 400 years of local history in one massive city portrait. The windows of this trompe-l’oeil are worth your attention as you will find those larger than life characters that have shaped the city and culture. Also depicted are 15 historical figures and nearly a dozen of Quebec’s leading artists. It is stunning!
Further along, at the foot of the Casse-Cou (Breakneck) steps along one of the oldest streets in North America called La Petite Rue Champlain, is the “Fresque du Petit-Champlain”. It depicts milestones in the history of Quebec City’s working-class waterfront neighbourhood, from the beginnings of New France to present day.
New to us was the discovery of the “Les Fresques des Piliers“. We glimpsed it as we drove by on our way back to grandma’s house and were blown away by how awesome they are and what a huge visual impact they provide.
These frescoes are painted on pillars that support the Dufferin-Montmorency highway. These murals are the only ones in the city that portray imaginary scenes. There is “The Cathedral” inspired by the interior and exterior of a cathedral in Paris. There is the one named “Tales from the King’s Court” featuring a princess, knight and wizard created to honour the place fairy tales hold in all our childhoods. Another named “The Clock”, shows the inner workings of a timepiece and finally the one we loved the most, “Tribute to Quebec Circuses” takes us inside the world of the circus with its actors, jugglers, clowns and acrobats. We are guessing this was inspired by the phenomenal success of Cirque du Soleil. Wonderfully an actual circus has set-up shop at the foot of that particular pillar giving life to an otherwise totally dead space.
There are other murals (twenty in total so only 17 more to find!) we’d like to see but we ran out of time. We will just have to visit again! What I found odd is that there is no organized walking tour, or audio guide, app, map, pamphlet or anything to actually promote the murals. I think someone needs to look into changing that at the Quebec City tourist office.
We wanted to test out the dog friendliness of the restaurants in Old Quebec City. With little time left we did a rush in and out inquiry of those we passed on La Petite Rue Champlain. We found several positive responses.
The first is called “Le Lapin Sauté”. It has a small patio at the back/side and a number of seats right on the sidewalk as well. We were informed that they had purposely installed the iron barriers in order to accommodate dog owners. The bylaw in Quebec City is the same as in Ottawa, no dog is allowed where food is served or prepared. So, to get around this they installed very open little iron dividers where the dog can simply sit on the “other side” and thus not “technically” be on the restaurant’s property! How very very clever! Now for a tiny one like me we would not recommend this approach. The risk of being trampled or stepped on is just too high, but I believe that this restaurant deserves major kudos for finding a workaround.
With that in mind we popped our heads into a coffee shop that had tables on the sidewalk, they saw no objection since they serve their food “to go” – another way around the bylaw. Same thing for the ice cream vendor. At the very end of La Petite Rue Champlain, right next to the mural in fact, we also found a tiny bistro with chairs haphazardly placed on the sidewalk. There are so many dogs walking past in the sea of tourists, that for them, restricting dogs would just be laughable. They do ask that you not place the dog where the waiting staff might trip on them. We were told by the waitress that most places, which have seating right on the sidewalk, technically are not patios but public spaces. If they are not fenced in, you should be good to go if the owner is willing.
As we hopped back into the car before heading out, we were happy with our discovery. Outdoor eating was in fact possible in nice weather (still no indoor options) if you asked nicely, knew the bylaws and knew where to look.
In review: Old Quebec City is still a gem. It’s also dog friendly, especially by Canadian standards. We still recommend a visit, if you can: just go and take your canine companion with you. As we mentioned in our last post, if you can’t make it to Europe, this is the closest thing to an “Old World” experience you can get on this side of the “pond”. Go and you will not regret it! Just remember to pack a jacket. Even in August the evenings are cool.