Le Bic, Québec – Eider chicks in panic and a five-star cowshed

The St. Lawrence River is said to be one of the world’s best whale watching spots. Clear water from the Great Lakes assembles in the St. Lawrence River, flows into the St. Lawrence Gulf and eventually into the Atlantic. At the lower reaches of the estuary the bottom suddenly climbs from 340 to below 40 meters. Eutrophic water is forced to the surface and nourishes plankton and therewith many other marine animals wide into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Parc National du Bic is a nature reserve situated at St. Lawrence River with lots of bays, rocks, islands, and salt marshes. We are lucky today and can observe seals and the timid eiders. As usual in bird life only the male wear splendid colours, the eider feathers are white black and yellow. A huddled group neutrally coloured eider mothers and a not defined number of tiny panic-stricken chicken flee paddling. A glance into the binocular lets Joerg discover some whales. For animal watching we have been walking far into the bay at low tide. That retaliates as it suddenly starts to rain heavily and we have to go back all the long way. After few minutes the soaked trouser legs dangle around our calves; at least the waterproof jacket keeps us dry. Jeans are a very stupid piece of clothing for hiking. In a region wit fast weather changes it’s recommended to wear water-repellent hiking pants. Not that we don’t have those. We learn – for next time. Two hours later the temperature rises just as fast from 12 to 22°C.

The area around St. Lawrence River presents itself in a very attractive manner: green willows and hardwood on the south side, the Laurentian Mountains on the north shore and high tree-covered islands in the estuary. A village follows the other, the houses are delightful. Besides the in North America customary wood houses a lot of stone is used for construction here. Nearly always buildings are decorated with gables, porches, balconies, or terraces. Souvenir shops, boutiques, small specialized groceries, or arts and crafts businesses are often equipped distinctively loving so that it becomes clear from a distance what shall be disposed here. Sometimes a colour-fitting car stands in front of a painted house: beige to beige, blue to blue, red to red. That must be French elegance. Generally vehicles differ a lot from the rest of Canada. Instead the favoured pick-up trucks and SUVs we see mainly limousines and compact cars. The density of German cars of all categories, according to budget – besides the usual Japanese brands – is noticeable. Even sports cars are big sellers. French cars instead are completely missing. What must be the reason? However, everything is guarded by the Catholic Church. The smallest village is towered by an excessively big church, and its silver-grey roof is a reminder to all the surroundings.

The probably most unusual building is a five-star cowshed. The spacious building stands on s hill at St. Lawrence River. To make the cows enjoying the view, the stable is glazed from bottom to roof. The beautiful black and white cattle stand like behind a show window. With this luxury it is no wonder that one litre of milk partially costs nearly four Dollars.

But of course there is the other Québec as well. Here people smile less American-friendly, but they jostle more European-like. While driving they don’t stay squeamishly with the regulations. Other travellers do not report about this province without reservation. At ten past five we reach the tourist information. Both clerks stand in front of the door and inform me that they have already closed. So far so good. They ask me anyway what I want. As I explain them that I just would like to get a map of Québec, they shrug their shoulders and proceed back to their office. Well, it’s just closed, they say as they leave. Why do they ask?

Other travellers driving towards us informed us that Québec City does not allow camper parking. We made inquiries of Mélie’s parents and decided to stay in the other side of the river in Lévis. It’s difficult there anyway, but directly beside the ferryboat service there is a 24-hours parking lot for motorhomes as well. That costs money, but therefore we can stay until the next evening. The picture postcard view to the old town of Québec is included to the price. Tomorrow we want to ferry across the river to Québec City without car.

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