Landing at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport in Montreal three hours ahead of schedule (we were able to go on an earlier flight without any additional charge), we had time to explore Trois Rivieres and Chemin du Roy once we got our rental car. Even the rental car got upgraded from an economy car to a minivan with GPS. We didn’t figure out how to change it from French to English until the last day. In fact, we laughed when the car would yell at us to “boucle” our seatbelts.
Getting out of Montreal was a bit congested and crowded, but soon we got north of town and exited about 90 minutes later at Trois Rivieres in the Mauricie Region. It was a bit confusing because we had printed out a Chemin du Roy guidebook. We were starving and stopped at Boulangerie Francois Guay because there was an ad in the guidebook and it had good reviews on Trip Advisor. I believe we went to the Pointe-du-Lac location. It was a tiny town feel with a few older men speaking French on the front porch.
Inside, the bakery type cafe, the menu was completely in french and boy was I rusty. I saw jambon, but couldn’t remember that it was ham. It was thrilling and frustrating at the same time. I ordered a sandwich. Bill had the poutine. She pointed to four different sauces – sucre (I knew it meant sugar) meant sweetened, the others I couldn’t tell you so we ordered plain. It was delicious. This poutine was like cheese curds over baked beans. It was my favorite although DH had some with quail that he liked better later in the trip.
We read about the Moulin Seigneurial de Porte du Lac, an old flour mill. We drove by it and it looked cute, but we were ready to get going. As we got more into Trois Rivieres, I saw that it was more of a blue collar, industrial type city. We stopped at the Notre-Dame du Cape Basilica, which translates to Our Lady of the Cape Shrine. It was a hexagon-shaped stone structure with high-pitched roof lines. However, the interior was not as impressive. What was even more strange was there was a complete visitor center with large restaurant and shops. I learned later that many take pilgrimage trips here. Outside the grounds offered walking trails. We overheard a tour guide giving a tour and walked over a beautiful bridge called the Rosary Bridge. We also loved the original church building which appeared to be hosting a mass right then.
We drove north along the Chemin du Roy through picturesque small villages and towns, stopping at churches along the way. The drive reminded me of Marble Head and Salem north of Boston. The road meandered a good bit and sometimes we’d find we weren’t on the route at all because it would twist and turn.
As we neared Quebec City, we saw more fancy houses and eventually got back on the interstate to get into town.