During the third week in June, when most of Buckley's students headed to destinations unknown, fourteen eighth-graders, and soon-to-be eighth graders—all of whom take French as a foreign language—decided to squeeze in one more week of learning. They embarked on an exciting, week-long journey to Quebec, accompanied by Headmaster Dr. Jean-Marc Juhel, Head of Upper School Linda Bernard and French teacher, Madame Dianna Baritot.
Here is the day-by-day breakdown of their journey, as blogged by Mme. Baritot:
On Day 1, Québecois greeted us on the other side with a warm welcome—even the security dog at customs was polite!
After meeting our tour guide, Laurent, we took a walking tour of Old Québec, including Chateau Frontenac (the most photographed hotel in North America), Québec city's famous 'trompe l'oeil' mural, Samuel Champlain's monument, and Place Royale.
After a brief stop to check in at our lovely Hotel Clarion, we visited the Huron Village, a re-creation of a traditional Native American village located in Québec's own reservation. There, we toured a longhouse, learned about proper snowshoe technique and the origins of lacrosse, and dined on a hearty Huron meal, complete with maple sausage and cranberry tea. After dinner, we were treated to a dance and drum show before returning back to the hotel for some well-earned rest
Our brave bilingual travelers had another packed day in old Québec. After enjoying a breakfast of croissants and hot chocolat at the famous 'Cochon Dingue,' we journeyed deeper into the heart of Old Québec. Our stops included the Plains of Abraham, the Parliament building, and Québec City's artisinal quarter, including the 'Rue des Trésors'.
We lunched in small groups and helped the Québecois economy with some souvenir shopping before heading to the Musée de la Civilisation to learn more about Québec's history (as well as earthquakes and nanotechnology).
Dinner was riverside, at the Café du Monde, followed by a stroll along the city's famous fortified wall. After some impromptu gymnastics and hacky sack games on the green, we headed to the Auberge Internationale for an evening of improvisational theatre.
There was no rest for the weary when touring in Québec, and Day 3 was no exception. We started the day at Montmorency Falls, where we learned the legend of the 'Lady in White'. Then, we headed to the Albert Gilles copper museum where we learned about Québec's copper trade and created our own copper medallions. For lunch, we stopped at a local 'casse-croute' to taste Québec's famous 'poutine'.
After lunch, we toured the famous basilica of Sainte Anne, a cathedral as tall as the falls we visited in the morning. Known for its healing properties, one can find walls covered in crutches, left by those who have recovered from illness and injury.
After learning about woodcarving from a local artisan and storyteller, we embarked on a bicycle tour of Québec city's history. We capped off the evening with a delicious dinner at Côtes à Côtes, followed by an evening dance cruise made all the more magical by the city's nighttime skyline.
Day 4 was our last full day in Québec, and it was another day filled with learning, fun, and discovery!
First, we breakfasted on savory crêpes at 'Au Petit Coin Breton', followed by a French vocabulary scavenger hunt at a local supermarket. We then visited the campus of Université Laval, complete with state of the art sports facilities and graffitied underground tunnels!
For lunch, we headed to the local mall (with an indoor amusement park, including ice skating!), followed by a trip to Québec City's observatory, the tallest building in the city.
After the observatory, we visited the Museum of the Plains of Abraham, where we participated in an interactive theatrical re-telling of the 'Guerre de Sept Ans' to learn about the French and British struggle for North American land.
For dinner, we visited a Cabane à Sucre, where we feasted on traditional 17th century Québecois fare, including, of course, plenty of maple syrup! We danced off our meal to classic French folk music, and sharpened up our wooden spoon percussion skills. A tractor ride through the woods and a tutorial on sap harvesting wetted our appetites for some taffy and a visit to the local boutique for sweet souvenirs.
We spent our last morning in Old Québec, completing a fact-finding mission about Québec City's historical buildings and architecture.
At noon, we bid farewell and "à la prochaine" to our phenomenal tour guide, Laurent, and our marvelous driver, Richard at the Québec City international airport.
We then hopped back on our flight to JFK. It was truly a pleasure to journey to Canada with such a lovely group of courageous and enthusiastic travelers. Have a wonderful summer, and à la prochaine!