As we drove from the airport in Quebec City to Le Monastère, I had the sensation of being in a time machine. Entering the old walled city through the St. Jean Bridge, the modern paved streets teeming with cars slowly gave way to cobblestone streets lined with shops. I began to envision a different time, a time when New France was just beginning
History of Hôtel-Dieu de Québec Monastery
On August 1, 1639, three young nuns arrived in New France with the mission of establishing a hospital to care for both the Aboriginal and settler population. The Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery was the birthplace of the first hospital on the continent, north of Mexico.
Its history is reflected in works of art dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries hanging on the walls.
Scattered throughout the alcoves tucked away on each hallway are original desks and other artifacts.
Le Monastère Today
While staying at Le Monastère, I opted to sleep in a traditional room, which provides an “authentic” experience. I walked down narrow hallways, with low ceilings featuring exposed expresso-colored wooden beams to arrive at my room.
My room was designed to recreate the full historical experience, furnished with simple Augustinian furniture and a small iron bed. Sitting at the small window with wooden shutters and window seat I could imagine a new novice nun nervously sitting in that same spot pondering her future and meditating as she peered down at the old city streets.
Though very simply furnished, the bedding was quite luxurious, with handmade quilts on each bed and a quote carefully placed on top of each bed, written in both English and French.
Le Monastere des Augustines has six private shared bathrooms for the 33 authentic rooms. The bathrooms are spacious and well appointed. The shower is large, and all shampoo, conditioner, and soap are provided via a wall dispenser.
Burnished wood doors against bright white walls greeted me as I walked down the corridor to view the contemporary rooms. Rough-hewn beams are exposed on the low ceiling. I felt as if I were at the crossroads of old world meets the modern world. The 32 contemporary rooms continue the old world elegance of exposed ceiling beams and whitewashed walls. These rooms are in stark contrast to the authentic rooms with a platform bed and modern built-in closets.
Each room has a private bath with a beautiful vanity, white tile and bathtub with shower.
Boasting plenty of alcoves and other spaces which provide the perfect place for meditation or reflection, Le Monastère is a perfect spot to unwind in peace and tranquility in Québec!
Le Monastère is a working cloister, with ten Augustinian sisters still residing here. Due to an aging population, the Augustinian nuns in Québec created a trust to preserve their rich heritage, which includes more than 1400 artifacts. Among these treasured artifacts in the on-site museum, is the original document signed by Louis XIII granting the rights of the land and the creation of the hospital, and the original 17th-century trunk the three sisters brought with them to New France.
Le Monastere has stayed true to its original mission of healing people. Isabelle Duchesneau, the executive director, explained that “all profits go back into the social mission of providing care to those who seek it — including caregivers.”
The broad range of treatments focusing on alternative health includes sleep therapy, posture instruction, holistic health evaluation, aromatherapy, and reflexology. Le Monastere is a complete wellness and hospitality center designed to help you rebalance.
Sharing a meal with strangers in complete silence allowed for moments of reflection and introspection giving my day a calming beginning. This opportunity to leave the hustle and bustle behind and rebalance my life is a gift, and the legacy of Le Monastère.
Photo Credit for Feature Photo – Château Frontenac in Autumn: Luc-Antoine Couturier
She is an adventurer and sailor, and can most often be found on the search for the perfect beach.Shehas been featured in Sailing Life Magazine, The Best of Life Magazine, and a guest contributor to several online blogs.Her latest travel ventures and adventures can be found on her blog, Betsi’s World.