OMGOSH, We loved the French Province of Quebec
01 July 2019
After enjoying the Hudson River and Lake Champlain we cleared through customs and started yet another amazing portion of our loop. With Jonathan and Jayne on Bella Gatto, along with their guest for the week we headed into Quebec Province. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the Richelieu River and it's canals. Only 60 miles long but full of personality, friendly people and lovely restaurants. I am keeping a list of favorite small towns and two of our three stops made the list. Both Saint Jean Richelieu and Chambly's overnight wall space was right in the heart of the town. Cute towns kept impeccably clean. Most of the French speaking locals knew enough English to asked many questions and some even asked 'Loop?' We communicated with hand gestures and maps. We felt as though we were far away in an enchanting land. The French Canadians were celebrating St John the Baptist that weekend and we were fortunate to get space, several boaters even moving a bit farther ahead or back to accommodate us.
At the end of the Richelieu River we meet the powerful St Lawrence. Turning towards the west we were going against a pretty steady two knot current until nearing Montréal where the current increased to four or five knots slowing our 7 knot boat to a crawl. Only a few miles to go and we arrived at Yacht Club Montréal. I had always wanted to visit this city but never dreamed it would be by boat! Rich in history with stunning architecture and our marina was but steps from it all. Steve's birthday fell on the day we arrived and he always wants oriental and Chinatown was within walking distance! We strolled up and down until he picked a restaurant and we had a feast fit for the king that he is. The next day the crew on Bella Gatto headed in one direction and we used the marina bikes to follow along the bike route to this fabulous outdoor/indoor market. Atwater Market had the typical vendors but typical they were not. French cheeses, meats, produce vendors and bakeries mixed in with fresh flowers and plants. Oh, we couldn't resist and purchased items for a lovely picnic. What a great experience Montréal was.
My favorite town in the world ever, wait, my favorite town on this continent, wait, my favorite town to date on this continent, St Anne de Bellevue on the Ottowa River is adorable. All the canal locks have walls to that you can tie off to. Sometimes they are at a town and we walk a bit and then move on, others like this one you don't want to move for days. A mini looper convention with 7-8 boats had plenty of space for docktails and the dogs had an area they could play and run. The other side of the narrow canal was a restaurant lined boardwalk and at night we were serenaded as a violinist walked among waterfront tables.
We were presently surprised by outstanding Canada Day fireworks in a small town with another free dock that had been recommended by a fellow Looper. Fireworks from the comfort of our boat brought back many good Milwaukee waterfront festival memories.
On our last night in French Quebec we stayed at a casino that gave you back a gift card equal to the price of the dockage. It felt like date night as the crew of Bella Gatto and Nomadic Spirit dug out something besides shorts and flip flops and enjoyed dinner in one of the many restaurant options available.
On to Ottowa, Ontario Province.