It has been a beautiful weekend here in Quebec City with a bright sun and a cool Canadian summer breeze. After a week of settling in, getting used to campus life, assimilating with the Québecois culture, and working hard in class, it was so exciting to get to embark on even more adventures on the weekend!
First, we took a short bus ride and walked a few blocks to an art museum located on the Plains of Abraham in The Battlefields Park. The museum had modern architecture and a very clean and sleek interior. Le Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec consists mainly of works of art produced in Quebec, or pieces done by Quebec artists. The portion of the museum that my friends and I explored was mostly contemporary art. The exhibit was called “From Ferron to BGL, Contemporary Art in Quebec”. The idea behind the exhibit is how art shaped the period from the 1960s to today, and how it played a role in Québec’s history during that time. At the exhibit, we learned how in the 1960s, Quebec went through a period called the Quiet Revolution. The Quiet Revolution was a time of cultural change in which art and expression had to be kept underground and more discreet. The exhibit highlights Québecois artists of the time period, as well as many profound works of art that reflect important events or themes of that point in time. From sculptures to oil paintings to abstract objects to prints to a gorgeous modern staircase and expansive windows, the entire exhibit and museum was a scope of contemporary inspiration.
After we were done exploring Le Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec, our leaders took us to a park on The Plains of Abraham for a picnic! The Plains of Abraham is where the Battle of Quebec was fought in the late 1700s! It was the perfect temperature, sunny with a cool and dry breeze. We spread out picnic blankets and our tripe facilitators prepared a table full of picnic food. Besides fresh strawberries, delicious baguette, salad, and potato salad, they brought two foods very popular in Quebec; squeaky cheese and paté. Squeaky cheese is essentially cheese curds, and they get that fun name from the sound it makes when you chew a piece in your mouth. Cheese curds are what you will find on poutine, a Quebec delicacy. Paté is duck liver in a spreadable paste and is often served on bread. Surprisingly, I was not adventurous enough to try either! We spent time taking photos in the park, playing on the playground among lots of little children, sunbathing, and listening to French music.
We began our day traversing by foot through the very charming cobblestone streets of Old Quebec. I loved seeing a famous mural called La Fresque des Québecois. It is a fresco painting that takes up an entire face of a building in a little corner in the heart of Old Quebec. We finally reached The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. In places like France and Quebec, there are Notre Dame cathedrals in each city. Since we visited on a Sunday morning, mass was in session and we got to see many people gathering in the beautiful church to worship. The cathedral had such a gorgeous interior. The architecture on the inside was adorned with white and gold detailing, and the fresco mural that was on the ceiling of the chapel had a blue sky and fluffy white clouds. We sat and listened to the priest’s sermon in French.
We visited a very interesting and compelling museum exhibit in the lower village of Old Quebec. We took a one hour guided tour in English with a very kind and knowledgeable tour guide who was happy to answer all questions no matter what they were. The museum exhibit showed the history of the presence and effect of and on indigenous people in Quebec. With very creative and interactive displays and installations, it conveyed an important but often forgotten message about the native people of the area. We saw artifacts from the Iroquoian tribe and learned about how the Europeans rounded up indigenous adolescents and forced them into boarding schools where they would be assimilated into more European culture. It was fascinating to see actual tools, clothing, toys, and boats that the people would create completely from scratch with the natural resources available to them. I left the museum learning so much more about the history of Quebec and about the many tribes of indigenous people that are still present by the coasts.
On Sunday, we got to enjoy lunch out of the cafeteria at University Laval. We had our meal at Restaurant D’Orsay in Old Quebec. It was a very lovely restaurant overlooking a fountain and an area where street performers were doing acts and stunts. I ordered a delicious pasta dish. Many at our table also decided to try poutine for the first time. Poutine is a Quebec delicacy. The dish consists of French fries with gravy and cheese curds. We were so thankful that the restaurant hostess allowed our large group to come in and enjoy a delicious meal!
After, my friends and I had free time to explore Old Quebec. We stopped in small cafés and bought pastries and iced tea to combat the heat! It was also quite enjoyable to walk around as the music from the summer festival was drifting through the streets. Once we took the bus home, we played card games and cooked a pasta dinner with bread, salad, and vegetables with hummus. It was so much fun to cook and prepare a meal in the university’s kitchen.
It was an amazing first weekend in Quebec city with the Abbey Road Progarms full of adventures, discovery, and enjoyment!
Program: French Language Immersion, French Culture, Business, Marketing, Photography/Film, & Studio Art