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Although I've included this as part of the walking tour on that Sunday in April 2012 (because it will fit in with our one-day walk around the city if you are reasonably fit and you have the time - otherwise you need to come back and do it tomorrow) I was down here the previous ( Saturday) evening in the car.

I hadn't then worked out my Sunday plan of attack, and one of my options was to find an affordable parking space (which in Quebec, is not very easy at all) and so I was exploring every avenue and leaving no stone unturned.

port quebec canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

My quest had taken me over the drawbridge that spans the Bassin Louise and into the docks. Docks are usually a good place to loiter but not this one - "strictly no parking - CCTV cameras in operation - violators will be towed" and all that kind of nonsense.

Strangely enough for a busy harbour there wasn't a security guard in sight. Just as well, because there were however some really good views of the old part of the town and I could stop to photograph them without any issues, even if the sun in the camera lens didn't help much.

Beggars can't be choosers.

riviere st charles river st lawrence laurent cap diamant cape diamond quebec canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

This particular photo was the one that I really wanted to take. It features what was the the site of the first permanent French colony in Nouvelle France, established in 1636.

It's at the foot of Cap Diamant- Cape Diamond. That's the highest point of the city at 98 metres. The ecclesiastical, government and military authorities established themselves up there on the top, while the civilians settled at the bottom. What you might literally call the "lower orders"

You may remember that we have visited the site of the first-ever settlement of Nouvelle France , earlier that morning in 2012.

seminary centre interpretation quebec canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

The modern glass building on the quayside over there is the Centre d'Interpretation of the older part of the city. It's built on the site of an old cement works and that gives you a clue as to what this area must have been like 80 years ago.

Behind it are the walls of the city - did I mention that Québec is the only city in the whole of the Americas north of Mexico City that is walled? - and above it is the Québec seminary where they trained the priests for the colony and which later became the University.

chateau frontenac cap diamant cape diamond quebec canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

No prizes for guessing what that building is over there. It is of course the Chateau Frontenac.

Named of course for the enigmatic, if not controversial Louis de Baude, Comte de Frontenac, about whom we spoke yesterday , it was built on the site of the Chateau Haldimand, built in 1786 for the Governor of Québec. Lord Dufferin, Governor-General of Canada, to whom the city owes a great deal, had the idea to embellish the city to make it a showplace of fine architecture and good taste and it was in these plans that the idea to make a magnificent hotel to crown the city took root. The Chateau Frontenac is the result.

General Motors SW1500 yard shunter quebec canada avril april 2012 copyright free photo royalty free photo

Wherever there is a large dockyard there is likely to be a railway. And in circumstances like these there will also be the likelihood of a handy diesel shunter hanging around. It takes more of a man than me to pass up the opportunity to take a photo of it.

It's another one of the Québec - Gatineau fleet - the company that we encountered at Trois Rivières back in September 2011. It's hard to tell from just one photograph from a difficult perspective but my Jane's Train Recognition Guide, an indispensible guide for the foreign traveller, seems to suggest that it might be a General Motors type SW1500 yard shunter. If you know better than that, please . I'd like to hear from you.

While I was prowling around the docks, I did come across a public car park and so I went for a wander around there to see what was going on. I don't remember now how much they wanted for a day's parking but I do recall that although it was much cheaper than parking up in the old city, it was still something astronomical and so I ruled it out.

Hence the bus trip and the walking tour, that we are (nominally, at least) carrying out right now.

historic old houses lower town quebec canada november novembre 2010

Continuing our walk back to what I suppose is the mainland and heading along the foot of Cap Diamant we encounter some typical Québecois buildings of indeterminate date and style but which nevertheless have quite an aesthetic appeal.

This is another one of these photos that could have been taken anywhere in North-West Europe, except that here in Québec the owners have retained the tradition wooden shop fronts, resisting the temptation to go for glass and aluminium that you would find elsewhere these days.

But here's an ironic little story about life where I live in rural France.

The nearest town from me has a population of about 1200 people, and it also has a Medieval Chateau. In France, it's against the law (well, in principle) to carry out any rebuilding within 500 metres of a Historic Monument without all kinds of permits and the like.

Many buildings in the town do retain their traditional fronts (basically because no-one there has any money) but one premises that backs onto the Chateau was trashed out and fitted with an aluminium and glass shop front in the early 1960s.

A couple of people I know have bought the property and use it as a private residence. They discovered an old postcard from the turn of the 20th Century that showed how the premises were back in those days, with a magnificent wooden front. One of the friends of this couple is a chippy, and he reckons that he could recreate thatshop front with no effort at all.

Permission was accordingly applied for - and REFUSED - because it would "destroy the habitual character of the Chateau area".

So work that one out.

When I was passing through Quebec in the car one filthy wet morning in November 2010 I did notice something that merited a close inspection.

vieux canada post office quebec canada november novembre 2010

This building is a beautiful example of the fairytale Nouvelle France architecture that would not be out of place in Strasbourg or Munich and had the weather been any better back then I would have gone over to it for a closer look.

There are limits to what I am prepared to do, though, and I simply pulled up at the side of the road and poked the Nikon out of the window for a quick shot.

But rest assured - I'll be back for another look at that.

One early evening in early September 2013 I found myself here againwith a free hour to spare. Having been entranced by the above building, I decided that the best use that I could make of my free time was to go and check it out.

It fits in quite well with our walk around the Bassin Louise as it is right at the head of the dock.

old canada post office quebec canada august september october 2013

The building, formerly the old Post Office, so I was informed, is actually an office of Service Canada, and seeing that it's a public building, you may be expecting that the public might be able to go inside to see it.

However on 31st May 2014 at 14:00 the office closed down for good and as far as I could tell, it was empty. I suppose that the Quebecois argument is "why do you need a Service Canada when you have a Service Quebec?"

Anyway, I shall add this building to my list of endangered species. There's that magnificent Nouvelle France building in Montreal that's been empty for quite a while and is in a deplorable condition. I wonder what this building here would be like 20 years time.

gare du palais quebec canada august september october 2013

At the rear of the building is the rear of the Gare du Palais.

This is the bus station, and not just any old bus station either, but the express bus station for long-distance travellers, of which there are more than just a few in the Province of Quebec.

My attention was immediately drawn to the imminent departure of the express bus for the Charlevoix and the Cote du Nord - my old stamping grounds from 2010, 2011 and 2012. I might find this bus useful.

gare du palais quebec canada august september october 2013

But if you were disappointed by the rear of the Gare du Palais as I was, then the front will more-than make up for that because it's another building in the Nouvelle France style.

It was opened in 1916 to coincide with the building of the Pont de Quebec and the Tracel de Cap Rouge that brought Charles Hays' Transcontinental Railway into town.

interior gare du palais quebec canada august september october 2013

The railway station is listed as one of the Stations of National Importance in Canada, doubtless because of its architecture. And quite rightly so too because it's every bit as good inside as it is on the outside.

It's undergone a programme of renovation as you can probably tell, and I can safely say that, for once in North America, it's a renovation that has been done with good taste. All of its glory is reflected on the inside.

interior gare du palais quebec canada august september october 2013

But for all of its renovated glory, it's of no use whatever if the facilities are not going to be used. The booking windows for the Quebec Central Railway and the Canadian National Railway are all closed up and shuttered, and the irony of this has totally escaped them.

If you would like now to book a ticket on a train, you need to go to the ticket office situated in a modern part of the station, but don't be in a hurry. When I turned up there to chat to whoever it was on duty, I found the ticket office deserted with a note telling me that
"the company's agent is on the platform dealing with the departure of a train"
or words to that effect. Rather tight on staffing levels, I think.

But if you have time, and there's someone here in attendance, you can buy your VIArail souvenirs here, because there are plenty on offer.

You can't buy a real locomotive and full-size carriages though and that surprised me because I can't think what else VIArail might be doing with its rolling stock judging by the rail services available. You can go to Montreal and then on to either Ottawa (yes, Ottawa, and not Gatineau) or Toronto, and that, I'm afraid, is your lot.

The train (yes, THE train - there's only the one, except on Tuesdays when there is none at all) from Halifax to Montreal that we encountered in 2010 doesn't pass by the city - it keeps to the south bank and you need to change to the shuttle at St Hyacinthe - and Train 27 to Montreal, the one that was preparing to depart, goes viaSaint Foy, Drummoindville, St Hyacinthe and St Lambert of which only Saint Foy is on the North Shore.

So that's the answer to a question that I asked the other day . There seems to be no rail passenger service to Trois Rivieres. The dream of Charles Hays didn't last very long.

fountain Charles Daudelin place de la gare quebec canada august september october 2013

Outside the railway station in the Place de la Gare is a water fountain designed by Charles Daudelin, and it is said to remind people of the power of water.

Why it is that people of Quebec might need reminding of the power of the water when they have had water mills for centuries and so much of the original trace of the Chemin du Roy has been swept away by the spring floods is totally beyond my comprehension.

There's an "interpretive panel" for those of you unsure about the nature and purpose of the fountain, but I reckon that if the sculptor has to include an "interpretive panel" with his work, then he and his work have failed.

So from here, those of you on the Walking Tour now need to head back for your bus. That means looking for the escalier Lepine - the "Lepine Staircase".

Those of you who were here with me in 2010 know exactly where it is.

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