Organized Tour to Quebec – Episode 1

In June 2011, I finished my degree in French literature at Simon Fraser University. To celebrate my graduation, my parents came to visit me from China. Since it was their first trip to Vancouver and Canada, I was delighted to show them around the city where I had been living since 2009. They were enchanted by Vancouver’s picturesque landscapes and wanted to see Eastern Canada as well. Since I had never travelled further than the Rockies myself, we decided to go through an agency and book an organized tour.

A street in Quebec

It wasn’t hard to find an agency with a good itinerary, since “Eastern Canada” and “Eastern North America” trips were popular with a lot of Chinese travellers. We picked the “Essentials of Eastern Canada” option; a 10-day journey through Toronto, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. After landing in Toronto, a tour bus was waiting to escort us around the cities.

As a province where French is the majority language, Quebec held a particular charm for me, a student of French literature, as well as for my parents and the other travellers, for whom it represented Old World Europe.

Château Frontenac

Château Frontenac

And we weren’t disappointed. Everyone gasped in awe before the majesty of Château Frontenac. We spent hours strolling around historic Old Quebec, stopping to admire the beautiful houses, wandering into exquisite shops, flipping through second-hand books (though we didn’t understand their words). We had great fun taking pictures in front of the Fresque des Québécois and enjoyed watching the street artists perform. When our guide suggested dining in Old Quebec to sample “real” French cuisine, everyone was interested.

La fresque des Québécois

Like my parents, most of our fellow visitors were not used to foreign food; during the rest of the trip, we had always eaten in Chinese restaurants. But this time, the charm of the unknown and the appeal of something new won them over. Nearly the entire group agreed to pay an extra fee for an authentic French dinner. We tried a plate of cheeses, escargot, and savoured perfectly cooked steak with red wine, all of which was completely different and new! Of course, some of them had trouble using a knife and fork, but they got the hang of it in the end.

At the end of the meal, my mother, who had never enjoyed any other cuisine than Chinese (even though I was always trying to make her try new things), told me, “Hmm, the Québécois really know how to cook their meat!”

Proof of the captivating magic of travel and of Quebec City!