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Discover Quebec with a blended family of 6 children aged 9 to 17


Discovering Quebec with a blended family

Well, then I'm not going to lie to you, going to Quebec on a trip at 8, it's neither easy nor cheap financially. Once that said, it is better to have an organized wife by your side, preferably also be one and make choices: we have selected a mix of hikes that are rather physically affordable, with moderate wild immersion, and a mix of tourist visits entertaining to keep our teenagers and children motivated for 15 days. Quebec is big (you have to discover it in several trips, summer and winter), so you can spend time on the road, you have to take this into account for things to do in the car and the choice of roads. Another bias that is ours in our travels: choose comfortable anchor points to move all around. You can see on the map below that we have opted for 5 pied-à-terre: Montreal (at the hotel), Quebec City (in RBNB), a chalet on the shores of the Saguenay fjord near Tadoussac, an inn called "l'Auberge Inn" near Baie-Saint-Paul, "l'Auberge Refuge du Trappeur" near Shawinigan. We stayed in each area between 1 and 3 days. I suggest you follow in photos our journey made in July 2017.

Travel itinerary for two weeks in Quebec

On the photo equipment side, I had decided to go light (Olympus hybrid equipment has the merit of not being bulky and rather light for travelling), so I took:

  1. The Olympus EM-1 Mark II camera (a nice 4/3 mirrorless, I've since switched to Nikon full frame and Nikon mirrorless).

  2. A Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod, very practical with its easy-to-handle system and removable ball head that allows you to take pictures lying down (I love it).

  3. A fish-eye lens, a wide-angle lens and a telephoto zoom, all equipped with maximum apertures between F/1.8 and F/2.8.


 


Summary of our stay in Quebec


Our main tourist visits

The hikes

Practical: our five living areas


 


Montreal: our point of arrival and return


Montreal Docks

Montreal, like many major capitals for us, is a “walking city”, so, as soon as we arrived, early in the morning, with our 6 hours jet lag, we walked. Starting with the quays, rich in attractions of all types for our children and teenagers: labyrinth, escape games, rosalie rides, Ferris Wheel... You can also discover the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil and freight trains as long as a day without bread, at the bend of a crossroads, almost in the middle of town.

Counting our first day of arrival in Quebec and our day of departure, we stayed two days in this cosmopolitan city with very lively streets: in summer, Montreal is reborn and street performances spring up everywhere. We sometimes come across the heads of artists known in France.

The city is also populated by works of street art: walls painted over several tens of meters in the streets and immersive facades arise at every street corner.

When night falls, the city remains very lively, it is an opportunity to discover new atmospheres. This was an opportunity to test my ultra-wide-angle or "fish-eye" lens, placed at ground level, in the middle of the Place d'Armes. Thanks to a long pause of 60 seconds, my Olympus camera was able to capture all the lights of the peaks, in particular those of the National Bank and the Notre-Dame Basilica. I will do an article dedicated to this method in the “photo tips” section.

Montreal building at sunset
Panoramic wide angle view of Montreal's Place d'Armes

I will not detail all the places to visit in Montreal, because with an excellent guide you will do much better. You will also notice that I show you the more specific photos of my journey and not those, often much more successful, of certain classic places that you will find on postcards. Remember, however: two days were enough for us to discover this friendly city.

Accommodation in Montreal

On arrival in Montreal and before leaving to catch the plane, we chose to stay at the Travel Lodge hotel, boulevard René-Lévesque, because the rooms were well organized with bunk beds to accommodate our large family, but also because it was very close to the historic center and allowed us to get around on foot: yes, we are keen on walking, even in town!

The hotel's website for information. It's not the highest rated, you have to admit, but it was perfect for our large family.


 

Quebec City


Historic center of Quebec at night seen from the city of Lévis

Change of atmosphere in Quebec. We feel the city that has retained its historical roots and its more provincial atmosphere, even as it claims the title of capital of Quebec. I recommend a very informative article from the Voyageurs du Monde website on the difference between the two cities.

Historic center of Quebec at night in the middle of the illuminated fountains of the city of Lévis

I was able to indulge myself, during a night outing, to capture the electric and luminous atmosphere of summer evenings, in the midst of families taking in the coolness of the water jets from the fountains of Lévis, this small town which , on the other side of the Saint Laurent river, faces the historic center of Quebec and where we chose to stay in Rbnb.

Quebec is indeed smaller, but more picturesque than Montreal, we quickly go around. For us, it was summed up in one day, but we chose to stay 3 days in Lévis to shine around Quebec. We used the ferry several times to cross the Saint Laurent river, on foot or by car, and reach Quebec City and our surrounding visits, to the great joy of the children who loved "the crossing", as they say there.

Cross the Saint Laurent river by ferry from Lévis to Québec

To take the ferry, all the information and timetables

on the Traversiers du Québec website.


 

Sainte-Anne Canyon


mountaineers scaling the Sainte-Anne canyon waterfall in Quebec

We chose to visit the Canyon Sainte-Anne and the Montmorency Falls on the same day, the two sites are close to Quebec and are an opportunity to do beautiful walks in nature. The visit is organized around the canyon by well-maintained trails: an opportunity to discover beautiful waterfalls by suspension bridges, a zip line, and to admire many sculptures of wild animals in wood. Some, braver than us, have opted for climbing...

Informations

All information to visit

Canyon Sainte-Anne on this website.


 


Montmorency falls


Montmorency Falls in Quebec seen from above in panoramic wide angle

So there, we take a lot of the peepers: it's big, it's beautiful, but it has to be deserved. You have to climb some monumental stairs clinging to the hillsides to both admire the bottom of the main waterfall and enjoy a panoramic view on a suspension bridge just above it.

Stairs of the Montmorency Falls in Quebec
Be careful

Be careful to equip yourself with waterproof clothing if you want to go to the bottom of the fall: it gets really wet!

Montmorency Falls in Quebec seen from below
Photo tips

My ultra-wide-angle prime lens (8 mm in 4/3 format, 16 mm in full frame) was again used extensively here. On the other hand, with this type of material, in lighting conditions like this (facing the sun), it is possible to generate a lot of chromatic aberrations (color distortions which add a colored outline, often green or purple, on the edges of objects) or “lens flares” (optical aberrations due to parasitic light scattering inside a lens). If you zoom in on my photo, you can see it. In general, we protect ourselves from “Lens flare” with a sun visor or by choosing the best angle of view. To avoid chromatic aberrations, you can try to change the focal length (zoom in or out if you have a lens equipped with a zoom), or even use a smaller diaphragm opening (large f/number) in order to limit the amount of light passing through the lens to the digital sensor of the camera (to understand the aperture see my future article how to take a good picture with the right amount of light). However, all this is not always possible. In my case, I had both a non-zoom lens, said to be fixed focal length, and which cannot be fitted with a lens hood, due to the curvature of its lens (in short, nothing but trouble). We can therefore also correct some of these imperfections on post-processing software, hence the interest of not shooting in Jpeg but in a format called "RAW" or raw format specific to each camera (at Nikon it is NEF, at Olympus ORF for example). This “RAW” format makes it possible to correct a photo file in depth just as it was done with a negative at the time of film photography.

View of Quebec City from Montmorency Falls

During the walk around the falls, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Quebec City.


 

The wolf trail in the Jacques-Cartier National Park


The wolf trail in the Jacques-Cartier National Park in Quebec

We were still stationed in Quebec City and we decided, for our first hike, not to rush our gang of children too much with an affordable 10 km hike in Jacques-Cartier National Park. The route is an out and back. The elevation is moderate, but very varied. The ascent is done in stages. Very quickly, several groups formed: those who were walking peacefully and enjoying the view and the wildlife, the slightly more sporty walkers and our eldest who decided to climb the course at a run in trail mode. In short, everyone can find what they are looking for on this trail. The views are majestic and at the end of the path, before descending, a very beautiful wooden platform allows you to admire the landscape and to rest for a meal.

The Admiral Butterfly

The path is certainly frequented, but not only by humans: our backpacks were attacked by particularly hungry and not very fearful deer, a piece of advice for their health and for the peace of the hikers: avoid feeding them. Colonies of the superb black admiral butterfly also dot the course. Pay close attention to large roots, especially on the descent.

itinerary

All information about

this hike: here.


 

Chalet on the edge of the Saguenay fjord


Cottage on the banks of the Saguenay River

After a few days in Quebec, going up along the Saint Laurent river, we were impatiently waiting for the moment to discover our chalet on the edge of the Saguenay fjord, in the town of Sacré Coeur. In everyone's head, after the urban atmospheres, there was a desire for flora and fauna that was a little wilder and more tranquil. It is at the 5 Stars Farm that we have reserved this pearl in a green setting on the edge of a dazzlingly beautiful fjord. The image below was taken in the evening just outside our chalet:

Panoramic view of the Saguenay Fjord in Quebec

The surroundings of the fjord very quickly constituted a space for play and swimming (a little cold all the same, even in summer) for young and old.

The effects of fog visible on the last photo are made with a long exposure, it is actually the water on the surface of the fjord. It is preferable to use a tripod for this type of end-of-day shot and moreover for landscapes, as a general rule, when you have time to rest a little, in order to properly capture the details.

Where to stay

To stay in a chalet on the edge of the fjord,

all the info on the 5 Stars Farm website.

Be careful

When you choose route 138 which goes up the Saint Laurent river, you have to take

a ferry to cross the Saguenay river: information here.


 

Visit of the 5 Stars Farm


Some of us may not like to see wild animals in captivity, however the 5 Stars Farm (in the town of Sacré Coeur) is special in that it collects babies abandoned by their mothers or lost and who would not have been able to survive on their own in the wild.

Bottle-fed fawn at the 5 Stars Farm in Quebec

It is then often difficult to reintroduce these animals into the wild and many of them remain residents of the farm.

So we went to get to know them and an impressive experience strongly marked all our children, whatever their age: the possibility of being in contact with Luna, a she-wolf who had become very friendly with a dog.

wolf in the arms of a little girl at the 5 Stars Farm in Quebec

Informations

All the information to visit the residents of the

5 stars Farm on this website.


 

Tadoussac and the "whales" excursion on the Saint Laurent river


View of the Saint Laurent in the city of Tadoussac in Quebec

It was probably the most anticipated moment for all of us: we also come to Canada to see whales. We chose to visit Tadoussac, a pretty little fishing town, with very beautiful views of the Saint Laurent river, before going a little further down the river to embark at the end of the afternoon at Les Escoumins.

Rorqual swimming in the Saint Laurent river off Tadoussac in Quebec

It was at the end of the day that our first fin whale appeared in the immensity of the river. We all went oh! and ah! of wonder. Difficult to concentrate so as not to miss the photos of this trip not to be missed, as the emotion is strong: obviously here you equip yourself with your telephoto lens and you choose a very high shutter speed (we'll talk about it later in a future article) because these huge animals are of a prodigious speed, it is not for nothing that they are called the greyhounds of the seas.

Rorqual swimming in the Saint Laurent river off Tadoussac in Quebec

What is impressive with the Saint Laurent river so close to its estuary is its width: you have the impression of being at the edge of the sea, so difficult is it sometimes to see the other shore. These behemoths seem very small in this immensity.

Informations

More information about this type

excursion here.


 

Discovery of Sainte-Marguerite Bay in the Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park


Trace of wet foot on a rock in Baie Sainte-Marguerite in Quebec

For our last adventure on the side of the Saguenay Fjord, we chose a small round trip hike of 6-7 kilometers, rather easy and very varied, which, after skirting a lake with beautiful panoramas, leads to the magnificent Sainte-Marguerite Bay.

Rock climbing in Baie Sainte-Marguerite in Quebec

A little climbing effort is necessary to access this beautiful beach where the children have spent a lot of time playing: building sand castles, writing their name in large letters on the sand, making ricochets...

Children skipping pebbles in Baie Sainte-Marguerite in Quebec

Itinerary

To know more about this little

hike, go here.


 

The "Auberge Inn" near Baie-Saint-Paul


Our Saguenay adventure over, we hit the road again to go near the town of Baie-Saint-Paul to move around again in a new area of beautiful hikes. While preparing for the trip, we were quickly seduced by this small inn, the “Auberge Inn”, in Saint-Hilarion, and we were absolutely not disappointed: a warm, family welcome, ideal for our large family.

The Auberge Inn in Quebec

A little surprise in this sometimes hot summer: the pleasure of being able to swim in a magnificent little pond at the bottom of the inn's huge garden.

The pond at the Auberge Inn in Quebec

The opportunity to relax after a good day of hiking.

The pond at the Auberge Inn in Quebec

But also the opportunity to make a beautiful souvenir portrait. Here the black and white is ideal given the excellent contrast and the low interest of the surrounding colors.

Portrait of a young girl in the arms of her mother in the water of a lake

Where to stay

To discover the authentic charms of

the "Auberge Inn" is here.


 

The "Riverain" trail in the Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie National Park


The Riverain Trail in the Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie National Park in Quebec

The Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park owes its name to the valleys carved out of the highest walls in Canada. I don't hide from you that I did lie to our little troop a little, because if I had told them that this hike was certainly absolutely unmissable, but that it included significant elevation changes over more than 20 km, we would never have motivated all these little people to discover a truly enchanting place.

The Riverain Trail in the Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie National Park in Quebec

There are multiple viewpoints along the trail, it's a photographer's paradise.

The Riverain Trail in the Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie National Park in Quebec

The paths are very often covered with small gravel which greatly facilitates walking. The place is not too crowded and there are many places where you can picnic.

The Riverain Trail in the Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie National Park in Quebec

Along the way, we discover a rich and varied fauna and flora.

But beware of black flies in Quebec! We had so far been spared by these little critters that infest the forests of northern regions. Fortunately we had left equipped with suitable lotions to cover our bodies. I also advise you to buy the necessary products locally to protect yourself from the bites of these voracious insects, because often what is sold in your country is not effective. A small protective veil for the face is also a must, we had skipped this equipment and we regretted it at the end of the course, where the horrible critters were trying to lodge in our eyes. Which also contributed to a small revolt of the children, but very fortunately, we had arrived at our destination and took these pretty yellow school buses to get closer to the parking lot where we had parked our cars.

School bus on the Riverain Trail in the Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie National Park in Quebec

In short, without doubt the most beautiful hike of our stay, but a little tiring for some of our children. So prepare well.


 

The "Chouenne" hike


We knew that after the difficult experience of our previous hike on the "Riverain" trail, we had to sell the next one to our children with tact. Stroke of luck: the "Chouenne" hike in the Grands-Jardins National Park is of moderate difficulty, with less than 5 km round trip on a path that nevertheless climbs well. But what a reward to arrive at the top to contemplate this superb valley, sitting on huge rocks.

Panorama of the valley during the Chouenne hike in the Grands-Jardins National Park

I took the opportunity to take the prettiest daisy I have ever photographed: sometimes we have fun with little.

Daisy during the Chouenne hike in the Grands-Jardins National Park

 

Baie-Saint-Paul and its shop



Obviously Baie-Saint-Paul offers more things to discover than a nice candy store. The city is renowned for its cultural dynamism, many art galleries follow one another in very pleasant streets typical of Quebec. We were able to enjoy a superb open-air blues concert at the foot of the very beautiful local church. An incongruous phenomenon, we were also able to observe a porcupine strolling through the city.

But what a memory this little candy store which saw us regress at lightning speed towards childhood, and at the exit of which we had a candy contest with magical tastes, but not for everyone: the children took revenge for the Riverain hike and made me eat a puke-flavored candy...

Nice candy store in Baie-Saint-Paul in Quebec

 

The Auberge Refuge du Trappeur near Shawinigan


Direction La Mauricie National Park for our last stay before returning to Montreal. We chose to stay in this inn because it was possible for us to sleep in tepees, these rustic tents, traditional habitats of North American Indians. Convenient to accommodate our whole tribe and totally exotic for the children: we even slept with a fire in the center of the tent.

Fire in the center of a tipi at the Auberge Refuge du Trappeur near Shawinigan in Quebec

The place reconstructs the life of Native Americans and trappers with typical buildings.

Traditional Native American encampment at the Auberge Refuge du Trappeur near Shawinigan in Quebec

You obviously have to enjoy camping, because the showers are taken in a separate building, it can sometimes be cold, but the whole family loved this "roots" option.

Where to stay

To reserve a room in the hostel, a

cabin or a teepee, it's here.


 

The walk to the Devil's Fall


Right next to the hostel, the interpretation trail begins, a loop of about 6 km. This short, very easy hike meanders between rivers, bridges, cliffs and waterfalls. It can be ideal for an immersive jogging route.

Torrent on the Chute du Diable trail in La Mauricie National Park in Quebec

It leads to the Devil's Fall, a set of waterfalls on a very pretty torrent. We were able to picnic on very beautiful rocks in the sun. A very pretty leech would have enjoyed the snack.

Leech near a torrent on the Chute du Diable trail in La Mauricie National Park in Quebec

A superb opportunity to make beautiful portraits and to immortalize my son Ethan who unfortunately left this world too soon. I love you Tatane Happy.

Portrait of a young man near the torrent on the Chute du Diable trail in the Mauricie National Park in Quebec

Itinerary

To find this little nice

hike, it's here.


 

Canoeing on the Lac du Fou


Canoeing on the Lac du Fou en Mauricie au Québec

We got up at 3 a.m. to discover the Lac du Fou, with the promise of seeing moose there, those huge cousins of the deer. Previously vaccinated by our endless wait of several hours to observe black bears, near the Saguenay River, which ended with multiple bites from hungry mosquitoes and no bears in sight, we were expecting nothing in particular but a very nice walk in a canoe at sunrise.

Canoeing on the Lac du Fou en Mauricie au Québec

Well it took us, because again no moose deigned to come and drink in this magnificent place. And this despite careful observation with binoculars with our eyes clouded by lack of sleep and our exceptional guide who imitates a whole bunch of animals like no one else. Fortunately the birds were there.

Birds on the Lac du Fou en Mauricie au Québec

No regrets however, because sliding noiselessly in the early morning on this smooth expanse, in communion with this calm and wild environment, was a pleasure for all our senses a little sleepy.

Reflection of clouds on the Lac du Fou in Mauricie in Quebec

This canoe trip was proposed to us at the Auberge Refuge du Trappeur.

Young bear in La Mauricie National Park in Quebec

You're going to wonder what this young black bear is doing here. Well, as we were returning from our canoe trip and had searched many times for black bears to no avail, this little rascal crosses right in front of our mini-bus, unleashing a frenzy of screaming from the children. Barely time to grab my camera to photograph it awkwardly through the glass: these beasts are still dangerous!

 

It's just a goodbye Quebec!


View of the Saint Laurent river after takeoff from Montreal, Quebec

There you go, back to Montreal to catch the plane and leave Quebec. I admit that I wanted to stay permanently in Quebec, like many French people who experience it (which makes our Quebec friends smile). When we were hiking, we often said to ourselves that Quebecois are French people who say hello warmly and smile at you when they meet you. When you say thank you to them, they answer you “it makes me happy” and not “de rien” (French words for you're welcome). These are small details in their verbal expression and in their behavior, but you feel that another way of seeing things in French exists here. I love Quebec and I love Quebecois. A little nod to my favorite Quebec group: "les cowboys fringants". We lived there the most beautiful holidays of our blended family, with absolutely unforgettable memories. The photo helps me every day to bring these moments to life.


"A photograph is a fragment of time that will never come back". Martine Franck


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