Fall is in the air and with fall comes the spectacular annual display of turning leaves across the east coast. Since we live in Las Vegas, mostly evergreen, we decided to visit Québec this year to see the fall foliage and to enjoy the food and ambiance of Montréal and Quebec City. Every fall, the Québec City area comes alive in an amazing blaze of autumn color. You can make the most of your journey by consulting the fall foliage map that tracks the changing fall colors across Québec. Quebéc offers leaf peepers some of Canada’s best fall foliage viewing. Maple trees dominate the Quebec landscape, thus maple syrup making in the spring and leaf peeping in fall are two of the most popular seasonal activities. Other autumnal foliage headliners are yellow birch and American beech.
“Temperature plays a factor in the coloration of trees, but the most important factor is called the photo period, or the length of daylight,” horticulturalist Bob Osbourne of Cornhill, N.B. told The Weather Network.” The shortening of the number of hours of daylight is the trigger for trees to start shutting down. A cork-like layer forms between the leaf stem and the branch, which will eventually fall off and it also protects the tree from any kind of fungal or bacterial infection. As it shuts down, it begins to stop water and nutrients from coming into the leaf and the chlorophyll dies.” It’s this natural phenomenon that enables us to see the various pigments in leaves that have been there all along, but previously concealed by green.
We flew into Montréal and spent a few pleasant days enjoying the sights, food and natural beauty of the French cultural capital of Canada. We decided to drive on Autoroute 40 to drive between Montréal and Quebéc city, a drive of about three hours, which offers a scenic drive along the Saint Lawrence River’s northern shore. It was raining and overcast on the day we traveled but the leaves were in full spectacular bloom, a little late in the season since the peak of fall color is usually in the last two weeks of September. A more scenic route, if you have the time, is either along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence (route 132) or the historic “Chemin du Roi” on the north shore (route 138).
Autoroute 40 takes you through a number of farms, lined with beautiful foliage. The exit signs along Autoroute 40 between the former capital of New France and Montréal are a veritable Litany of the Saints: Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Basile-Sud, Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, Notre-Dame-de-Portneuf, Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets, Sainte-Geneviève-de-Batiscan, Saint-Luc-de-Vincennes, Saint Maurice, Saint-Louis-de-France, Saint-Léon-le-Grand, down through L’Assomption and Sainte-Térèse. The pleasant town of Trois-Rivieres boasts a history dating back to 1634, making it North America’s second-oldest city north of Mexico. Although much of the historic center burned down in 1908, a compact cluster of old buildings remains. The name Trois-Rivieres is a bit of a misnomer. Don’t bother looking, there aren’t three rivers. The name refers to the way the St Maurice River divides as it approaches the St Lawrence.
One thing that we sometimes miss while living in the city, the changing leaves. Every autumn, nature puts on a brilliant show of color in many parts of North America. From bright yellows to vibrant reds, the leaves transform, showing their rich and vibrant hues. From the Northeast United States, to the Southeast and Midwest United States, the foliage season begins in early September in the northern regions and ends in southern locations in November. You can just fly to a location, as we did, or enjoy the colors by rail, tour or a cruise. Each September and October, cruise ships take to the Northern Atlantic water, sailing out of Boston and New York for Quebec and Montreal, carrying throngs of leaf peepers eager to see New England and Canada in their golden autumnal glory. Lines doing this route, from Carnival Cruises to Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, as well as more expensive choices such as Cunard, Seabourn, and Silversea, span a wide range of prices, so chances are there’s a choice for you, regardless of your budget or style.
The oldest reference to the sugar maple and maple sap is found in a text published in 1557 by André Thévet, a cosmographer who accompanied the explorers of the time to tell about their discoveries and describe the new lands they found. In this case Thévet describes the discovery of maple sap. Upon closer inspection, this appears to be an event that happened to Jacques Cartier in the spring of 1536 or 1542.
The country and land of Canada are beautiful and well situated with very good soil, aside from the intemperate climate, which is a disadvantage, as you can well imagine. There are several kinds of trees and fruits of which we have no knowledge on the other side. Among them there is a tree with the thickness and shape of a large walnut tree on the other side. It remained unused for a long time until someone tried to cut one down, releasing a kind of sugar, which they found to be as tasty and as delicate as any good wine from Orleans or Beaune.
On the way back from Quebéc City, it was still raining, and we took Autoroute 20 on the south side of the Saint Laurence river. There are even more farms and a number of comfortable and scenic rest stops. Tourism Quebec’s Claudette Lacombe says Quebecers who live in and around Montreal usually take day trips to the Laurentians north of the city or the Eastern Townships to view the colors.
It’s in regions south of the St. Lawrence River, where you have the presence of maple trees, where it will be interesting because the accumulation of sugar in the sap brings out the red color in the leaves. There are also (maples) in the Laurentians, but there are fewer maples there when compared with the Eastern Townships and the Beauce region, south of Quebec City.
Lacombe also suggests visiting areas near Quebec City, like the Charlevoix region, where Mont-Ste-Anne and the St. Lawrence River add a spectacular backdrop to the changing colors.
If you visit Quebéc in the fall, you must travel to the countryside to see this beautiful display. As always, I hope you enjoyed, please leave a comment.
Quebéc Original: http://quebecoriginal.com/
Fall Foliage Report: https://www.quebecoriginal.com/en/discover/seasons-in-quebec?region=QC#fall
Weather Channel Best Fall Foliage: https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/heres-the-best-places-to-see-fall-foliage-in-canada/56155
Catholicism’s Empty Quarter: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/09/catholicisms-empty-quarter
Quebec Maple Trees: http://ilovemaple.ca/history/dates-and-historical-accounts-quebec-maple-tree
The Laurentides: http://www.laurentides.com/en
Fall Foliage Tours: http://www.freshtrackscanada.com/regions-and-interests/fall-colors
Fall Foliage in Canada: http://gocanada.about.com/od/canadatravelplanner/tp/fallfoliage.htm