A city of light

Walk through Québec’s old city early on a summer’s evening when the sun is nearing the horizon. The west-facing facades of Vieux-Québec are ablaze in a warm summer glow. Add to this spectacle the contrast of a low overcast sky and the effect is mesmerizing; every pediment, every cornice, every corbel jumps toward the eye in high definition. The fine shadows of the masonry edges are crisp and clear and you discover a building you’ve seen a thousand times before, but have never noticed.

Rue Ste-Famille

In fact, old Québec has new secrets to reveal in every light.

In the early afternoon, when the sun is hot and high in the sky, the narrowest streets in town are corridors of cool shade, with looming buildings creating an intimate other-world isolated from the sunnier landscapes of the city. One such corridor is la rue du Trésor, where artists congregate to show off their works.  The light there is chill, yet candescent, throwing a glow on the many canvases on display.

And then there are the tin roofs of the old city. Under any sun, the tin roofs of town will act as mirrors that focus a white, almost blinding, light on the tourist’s eye. Fittingly, in French, we call them white iron roofs. The effect is most remarkable when you find an overlook from which to survey the city. Walk to the top of the citadel hill, for instance, and you will see scores of sparkling white iron stars dotting the urban cosmos.

15 thoughts on “A city of light”

  1. Myriam Lemieux

    How incredible. And so really true. For those who have never been to Québec, you are really missing something. Thanks Neil for sharing my friend.

  2. Après avoir marché de nombreuses fois dans le Vieux Québec, il est tout-à-fait remarquable à quel point tu peux conserver ce regard de l’innocence envers un décors si souvent visité.J’en suis renversée.

  3. Do you have any photography skills, Neil? It takes a lot of sensibility for one to be able to see beauty in light. What an inspiring article!

  4. Colette Parayre

    La beauté réside dans l’ oeil du passant, en autant qu il ait conservé son sens d’émerveillement…bravo Neil et merci du partage sur notre ville d’adoption. Colette

  5. Orvis Crowson

    Just finished visiting Quebec and Montreal. Hope to come back to Quebec for a longer visit to the old city. The French influence is great. Will work on my French for the next visit.

  6. Alain BERNIER

    MERCI Neil de m’avoir inclus sur ta liste d’envoi…Je suis guide-chauffeur depuis 10 ans et je me régale à chaque fois de tes intéressantes chroniques…tout comme je me suis régalé une fois en ta compagnie lors d’un tour de ville de croisiéristes…
    Au plaisir de te revoir !

  7. Denis Laberge

    Hi Neil,

    I’ve really appreciated your text and espescially your pictures. The sunlight makes the stones of the buildings looking ochre, like those I saw, some years ago, in Sienna, Italia.

    Very impressive. Thank you,

    Denis Laberge

    1. Your pictures bring back vivid memories of our trip to Quebec City . Neil, thanks for being a great guide…..Karen and Rodney

  8. Since we returned from our cruise there in October we have not stopped talking about Quebec.It was a real highlight of our journey and will remain in our hearts forever

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