Driving the Trans-Canada Highway, Animal Fair Checks Out the Doggy Amenities
Bonejour! This past June, Animal Fair was invited to explore Quйbec, via the Trans-Canada Highway system, in a Buick Lucerne. The Trans-Canada Highway runs from British Columbia to Newfoundland—the world’s longest national highway. During our trip, we encountered gorgeous cityscapes, fabulous accommodations, and historic landmarks. The best part? Lucky Diamond enjoyed the trip as much as anyone!
Quйbec is Canada’s largest province and the home of Quйbec City, the only remaining walled city found north of Mexico. This is where we started our tour, staying in the Fairmont Le Chвteau Frontenac, an elegant resort in Vieux Quйbec (the Old City). Le Chвteau Frontenac was originally built in the early 19th century as a place for rail passengers to stay overnight, and it’s just as welcoming to weary travelers today, with a full compliment of amenities and services, including elegant, well-appointed rooms that reflect the hotel’s rich history. Le Chвteau has a visiting dog program for canines under 20 pounds and offers all the necessary services for people traveling with their pets: dog-walkers certified in doggy first-aid; a 24-hour clinic with bilingual staff (French and English); a local groomer with transportation services; referrals for animal photographers and pet shops; and a nearby, pet-friendly park.
Quйbec, which will celebrate its 400-year anniversary in 2008, has more than its fair share of Old-World charm. If you can make it to the city in late January/early February, you can enjoy the 16-day Winter Carnival, which often features a canine agility contest. Quйbec is a cultural center, with numerous artisans and performers, museums, and performance halls. To get a feel for the whole city, you can start your visit at the Observatoire de la Quйbec, which offers tours in several languages and a view from 221 meters up.
The second day, Animal Fair toured the beautiful Sainte-Anne-de-Beauprй and the Charlevoix region, which is classified a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We stopped for lunch at Auberge de la Rive in St-Joseph-de-la-Rive village, a scenic town in the Charlevoix, before continuing to Sainte-Anne-de-Beauprй. This city is famous for its 350-year-old Christian shrine, the oldest in North America, and the adjacent Cyclorama. The Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beauprй is dedicated to Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, and is the site of many recorded miracles. The first blessing was the healing of Louis Guimont, which occurred in 1658 during the construction of the original church. Since then, the Shrine has evolved into a grand complex including the stunning Basilica that has stood since 1923 and was consecrated by Cardinal Maurice Roy in 1976. The Cyclorama is the world’s largest panorama and depicts The Crucifixion of Jesus and the vistas of ancient Jerusalem and its surrounding countryside. The panorama is 1,540 square meters and can be viewed from several different observation points that allow the visitor to feel as if they are reliving the birth of Christianity.
We stayed at Auberge La Pinsonniиre, which translates as “The Home of the Finches Inn,” in Cap-а-l’Aigle. Not only is La Pinsonniиre pet-friendly, but they also have their own mascot, Chйrie Poupйe, the adorable companion of Valйrie Authier, the owner. Authier’s parents originally converted the old mansion into an inn, and there have been canine innkeepers ever since. “When my parents bought the mansion and we moved from Montreal, they also bought me a collie, Io,” said Valerie Authier, who now runs La Pinsonniere. “She was the perfect innkeeper. Everyone loved her. She is buried on the grounds, under a tree. Our second dog was also a collie, named Petrus. Petrus loved children and women; we had to wash lipstick off of him almost every day! He is buried next to Io. Cherie Poupee is really more my dog than the inn’s, but she is with me at work every day. She comes with me to greet the clients. I think she will be as good an innkeeper as her two predecessors.” Chйrie Poupйe, a Husky-Labrador mix, recently oversaw the renovations on the five-star inn. She continues to be an integral part of hotel management and guest services. La Pinsonniиre, a part of the Relais & Chateaux chain, offers what the hotel refers to as the “five Cs”: character, courtesy, calm, charm, and cuisine. La Pinsonniиre has incorporated all the luxuries of a large hotel without losing the charm and warmth of a small, family-owned inn.
After our restful night at La Pinsonniиre, Animal Fair traveled by ferry from Saint-Simйon to Riviиre-du-Loup and drove on to Kamouraska, where we enjoyed dejeuner (lunch) at the Bistro L’Amuse-Bouche.
After lunch, the Trans-Canada Highway brought us to Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, a haven to numerous sculptors’ studios. In the same vein, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is also home to the Rallye Sculptural Desjardins, a garden which features original sculptures made by artists throughout the world.
After awakening our artistic sensibilities, we headed back to Quйbec City to tour the Musйe National des Beaux Arts in Battlefields Park. The museum represents more than 3,000 artists and 27,000 works, the largest existing collection of Quйbec art. Since 2005, the museum has shown the Brousseau collection of Inuit Art, featuring 2,635 pieces of art. The museum also incorporates the old Quйbec City jail and offers tours led by costumed characters.
Accommodations for our third and final night were provided by Auberge Saint-Antoine. Bruno, a miniature poodle and partner of hotelier Martha Price, greeted lucky Diamond. Not just another head of security for not just another boutique hotel. Bruno Lebrun is the head of security at the Auberge Saint-Antoine, a unique hotel in the heart of historic Quebec City. Bruno’s main task is to guard over the hundreds of historical and priceless artefacts on display throughout the hotel. His other daily tasks include a twice daily walk around the exterior and an inspection of the lobby area for any crumbs or other items out of place.
“Bruno is an excellent director and takes his job very seriously. He has never been late and never called in sick, although he does occasionally take a short nap while at work!” says hotel general Manager David Mounteer.
Our whirlwind tour of Quйbec left us breathless from all the beautiful and wonderful cultural and historic sites we saw. Not just a substitution for France, the Canadian province is more than worth your time, and will surely leave you charmed and reluctant to say “Au Ruff-voir!”
La Pinsonniиre – Relais & Chвteaux
La Malbaie, (Quйbec) G5A 1X9
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
Tel : 418-691-3861
Fax : 418-692-1751
8, rue Saint-Antoine
G1K 4C9 , Canada
Tel: (418) 692-5007
Fax: (418) 692-1177
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