At Le Clos Saint-Louis, the little hotel where I stayed in Quebec.
I found Le Clos Saint-Louis, my hotel, by cross referencing Frommer's and Fodor's guides, checking where the hotels were on the map, and doing my own version of reading between the lines of hotel reviews. And, since it is always better to be lucky than smart, I was also very lucky.
Le Clos Saint-Louis, in old Quebec City, was just what I was looking for. C'est parfait. It was perfect.
The decor is warm and inviting at Le Clos Saint-Louis.
It is just a few blocks inside the old city walls, and just a short walk down to the famous Chateau Frontenac on the Saint Lawrence River. The Frontenac is gorgeous; but, it has 600 rooms and is about twice as expensive as my hotel.
I liked the price at Saint-Louis, the location, the owner--who looks a bit like Simone Signoret--and who often sits at the front desk, runs downstairs to fix your breakfast, and then runs back upstairs to make calls for you and turn on the fax machine.
Voulez vous coucher?
There are just sixteen rooms and two suites in these two adjoining 19th century townhouses. And, though the decor is Victorian--the bathrooms, WiFi connection, air conditioning (didn't need it, but one does later in the summer) et al are strictly from the 21st. Breakfast comes with your room which I think is only civilized. It is served in a lovely little cafe-like breakfast room downstairs.
The breakfast room at Clos Saint-Louis.
The croissants at petit dejeuner taste as if Madame just took them out of the oven--which I think she does as does everybody here in Quebec. I had not one soggy croissant during my entire visit.
One more recommendation from my visit. There is a wonderful little family-owned jewelry store in the old city and if you want to shop for a petit bijou, Zimmermann's is the place to go.
Second and third generation Zimmermanns, Pierre, at left, and Michele, still create their own jewelry in this lovely shop.
I didn't get to meet Joseph Zimmermann, the grandfather, who came from Alsace-Lorraine via Cartier in London in the 1950s to work in Quebec as a clockmaker. Later he went out on his own and Zimmerman's has been a fixture in old Quebec ever since.
Grandpere is now 86 and well, but was not in the day I stopped by. But, the next two generations were there, with a workshop in back and upstairs, and lovely handmade pieces all over the shop. What a nice change from all the t-shirt shops and stores with junk from China!
Fresh irises on the counter and friendly conversation at Zimmermann's (here with Pierre and Michele) whether you buy or just browse.
Like all tourist-centric cities these days, Quebec has its share of sameness--chain hotels and junky, kitschy stores with stuff from abroad.
Did I say kitsch?
But if you look, you'll still find the little places run by proprietors who take pride in their work and their products. I was lucky and found more than one of these in this lovely, old city.
Bijouterie Zimmermanns Joaillerie at 46 Côte de la Fabrique in Old Quebec.
The French I took in college emerged from the recesses of my brain at odd times and even worked for me from time to time--and if it gave the locals a chuckle, they were kind enough not to show it.
Their English had its own peculiarities: as the sign read in my bath, for example: "Dear Guest: Save all together the world." (Advising one not to request fresh towels every day unless absolutely necessary.)
This is the L'Escalier du Casse-Cou or "Breakneck Stairs" you can take to the Lower City if you don't take the Funicular--one day I used it both up and down so I could have an extra croissant.
As I said in my first post, I don't blame the French in the New World for wanting to hang on to their uniqueness and their unique place. It is a lovely place, situated high on a hill above a river near the top of North America.
The Saint Lawrence River freezes at about Montreal during the winter, but stays open to traffic through Quebec City year 'round.
And if they still enjoy pestering the English almost to death, well so what? We got a whole country out of just such pestering of those snooty royalists--so we should be proud to call the Quebecois our friends.
I sure wish all my friends could make cafe au lait the way they do in Quebec.
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