We are just beginning to consider a trip to the Montreal/Quebec City area in the future and I am interested in gathering information from fellow MI who are familiar with the area. Of course, I need recommendations on hotels and restaurants, but I would also like to get suggestions on interesting places to visit and things to do. What time of the year would you suggest going? How long would you stay? Did you rent a car? Where did you fly to? (We are thinking about using a BOGO airline ticket that only covers the continental US, so we would need a destination within the US near this area where it would be easy to continue the journey into Canada.) All suggestions are welcome.
Also, I'm directing this part of the questions to my fellow cyclists. Have you ever cycled on the Route Verte? For those unfamiliar with this bike trail, it is called the most extensive biking trails in North America and passes right through downtown Montreal. It covers 3100 miles of paths, shared roadways, and paved shoulders in Quebec according to the Fodor's Travel Guide.
Thanks for your help.
Don't forget the Delta chain they are represented in both cities. Delta is similar in quality and service to Marriott.
In Montreal you do not need (or want) a car if you are just visiting the city. Montreal has a good transit system, and old Montreal is more like most European Cities in that it is better on explore on foot. I usually stay at the Chateau Champlain. The other hotel is fine but is used more for business. Eating places are everywhere and excellent.
I would take Via Rail from Montreal to Quebec City (go first class, it is worth it). Stay at the Delta or the Marriott, they are right beside each other. I usually stay at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac or the Loews Le Concorde (but I hear it has changed brands). If staying in old Quebec you do not want a car, as there is no where to park it and it is hard to navigate. Walking is best.
Aux Anciens Canadien is one of the oldest restaurants in Canada and is good and traditional (Touristy though).
Old Montreal a Quebec are very similar to European cities with the advantage that they did not suffer the war. There is lots to see in the cities and nearby.
Depending on your interests a week.
I suggest May/June.
I cant help you with flying, both cities are close to the USA (Vermont/Maine, but I am not aware of a large enough airport.
In Cycling, if you are avid and good shape it is probably excellent. Both Cities are hilly. I have cycled in Montreal, but not in the city core where I work on one assumption as a pedestrian that the car has the right of way no matter where it is on the street or what colour the light is.
Burlington, VT is just a bit more than an hour from Montreal and we have flown to Burlington a couple of times and then driven to Montreal. At present, with the strong US dollar, this trip will be a bargain
It's a great trip most of the year. If you ski, you can add a ski stop in Stowe, Vt, Mt. St. Anne, near QC or Mt. Tremblant about an hour and a half north of Montreal.
The Marriott in Old Montreal or the Spring Hill Suites in Old Montreal are both excellent hotels.
While in Montreal, there are numerous wonderful French restaurants that you can try and be delighted. In addition, you MUST try Montreal Smoked meat. It is a Jewish deli treat that tastes like Pastami and corned beef wed and had a baby. It is the best deli meat anywhere. (Sort of like the texture of corned beef and a flavor between the two but closer to Pastrami!) Montreal natives will also brag about their bagels, but here they are wrong. A Montreal Bagel islike a piece of bread shaped like a bagel.
Quebec City is the closest to France that you can get without leaving North America. It has all sorts of French restaurants, and bakeries, Make certain that you dine at the Chateau Frontenac and walk all over the city, including the lower part of town. Be certain to ride the fernicular!
I'm from Montréal and can help with some suggestions. Anytime from May to September is a good time to visit. All depends on your interest. From late June to early August there are festivals everywhere, Jazz festival and Just For Laughs in Montreal, the Cirque du Soleil new show Luzia in Old Montreal in April and May, the Québec music festival on Plaines d´Abraham, etc. Early June there is Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal, but if you are not particularly interested I would suggest avoiding this week as prices skyrocket!
I have cycled on Route Verte from Mont Tremblant, it is really beautiful, you could stay a couple of days at the Residence Inn. Mont Tremblant is the most popular resort area both in winter and summer. Route Verte in Montreal downtown can be nice around Canal Lachine, but otherwise could be simply the street shoulder.
We have lots of good restaurants in Montreal, Europea is very fancy, pricy, and good, there are many others less expensive but good French or Italian cuisine. French bakeries are plenty around Montreal, with Maison Christian Faure the best!
As for the airport, Burlington Vt is probably your best choice. My family and I use it sometimes to fly cheaper to the US, Jet Blue has better prices than Air Canada most of the times. And it's only an hour from Montreal.
You will need a car if you decide to go to Mont Tremblant, but in Montreal you will get around with the subway, parking is difficult downtown in the summer months.
Let me know if you need more info, I'll be happy to help.
I've traveled to both Montreal and Quebec several times, both winter and summer. Being from Florida, honestly I really enjoyed winter. Everything was very walkable from the Old City locations and food was great. Check the calendar to find out when festivals are taking place or if you book really ahead of time, you may be able to go to a sugar shack for brunch in the rural areas...google it. The smoked meat is also a must.
I've taken the train between the cities and agree first class is totally worth it. So easy and such a lovely ride...we saw a huge herd of deer. Mont Tremblant is a lovely resort, but it was horribly hot there when we went there in the summer...something I didn't expect.
Jet Blue is a good choice to fly there on.
Insiders came through again and offered some wonderful tips when I originally posted this request for help in January. I am hoping that by replying to my original post, other insiders who may have missed the original post will offer more suggestions. We are still considering a 2-3 week trip, but it doesn't seem like we would need that much time to cover the Montreal/Quebec City area. We may consider extending the trip in NYC where we would like to see more plays on Broadway. I appreciate all the recommendations.
Montreal and Quebec City are great cities and are as close to a visiting france as you can get without crossing the Atlantic. Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain and Spring Hill Suites Old Montreal are both wonderful places to stay. In Montreal, walk around the Seaport and visit the park on Mont Royal. The Cathedral and the Shrine are both spectacular. Enjoy the French dining and for a special treat, have some Montreal Smoked meat, by favorite cold cut, any where. It's sort of like the best features of pastrami and corned beef rolled into one delicacy. (Schwartz and Snowdon Deli are two excellent places for this treat.)
Quebec City is really like the old world with lots to sea and do and eat. I'm not certain about hotels there. I stayed at the Chateau Frontenac and not a Marriott. There is a fascinating fort and lots of old winding streets. The upper city is wonderful and so is the lower which is along the waterfront. There is an interesting device that transports you between the two parts of town.
We aren't planning a trip to Europe this year so here I am again asking for more information on the Montreal/Quebec City area so that we will feel like we are in France. All of the information I received previously was excellent and I appreciated all the suggestions. With so many new members since last year, I decided to pose the question again to see if I could gather some additional information. We're saving our BOGO Delta ticket for a trip out west, so most likely we will fly into Montreal and take the train to Quebec City. At this point, we probably won't rent a car unless we decide to extend the trip into the countryside.
Do extend the trip into the countryside. Don't just limit your trip to the cities. It is beautiful, especially along the St. Laurence.
Another day east o QC the river is like an ocean and in the summer you can see all sorts of whales, including many from the shore. A good destination for whale watching is Tadousac. Contact the Quebec travel office for lots of great information. If you stay at any Provincial parks in Quebec, you will find that they have a much better attitude toward food, than in the US. Dining in Quebec's Gaspe Provincial park was spectacular- far better than sany US national of state bark that I have visited.
By the way, Montreal has a delicacy found in its Jewish Delis called Smoked Meat, that Is fabulous. Sort of like a cross between corned beef and pastrami but better than either. If I could choose ten meals to eat before being executed, at least 3 of them would be smoked meat sandwiches. The most famous is a place called Schwartes, where the staff is rude and the side dishes nothing to brag about. The sandwich, however, is wonderful. An alternative is the Snowdon deli where the sandwich is almost as good and everything else better. (Shwartzes is in the Old City. Snowdon will only work if yoy have a car.)
phctourist, Thank you for the additional information. As you may know, I love whale watching and will have to research Tadousac. I will also have to research Provincial parks in Quebec.
Am most interested in additional responses and your trip report after you go. I think YogiB may have some info to add, as he has written before about French Canada. Still hoping to take my bride there in the near future.
If an extended trip is still an option, you might consider adding Ottawa to your itinerary. Canada will celebrate its 150th birthday on July 1 this year, and as the nation's capital, Ottawa is the epicentre of the year-long celebrations. Ottawa is a beautiful city, only two hours from Montreal by train.
I feel transported to another place and time when I visit Quebec City. The main tourist area is compact and eminently walkable, although hilly, and the cobblestone streets are uneven. Anyone walking in high heels does so at their peril! A walking tour is a must; these are offered in English and French. The Marriott is just outside one of the gates to the Old City, but a bit too close to a major thoroughfare and the attendant traffic noise for my comfort. The property was under the Courtyard banner until a few years ago and has an improvised CL, one of the worst I have encountered. For a more European experience, try one of the many boutique hotels in Old Quebec.
Montreal will be hopping this summer, with lots of extra activities planned to mark the city's 375th birthday. No need for a car, but you will need to navigate the Metro as the sites are quite spread out. In addition to the great suggestions above, I'd also recommend a visit to the Botanical Gardens and the Musee des beaux-arts as well as a stroll through the Plateau area on Mont Royal. I'm not a fan of the Chateau Champlain; it has a bit of a pretentious vibe and the rooms are small and in need of an update. The Springhill Suites and new Courtyard are better options.
I have no first-hand experience with the Delta in either city.
On Via Rail, Business Class is definitely the way to go. Purchase your tickets as soon as your plans are in place. Discounted tickets are available, but in limited qualities and prices invariably increase closer to the date of departure.
marvelmed, Thank you for the additional information. Adding Ottawa to our itinerary is definitely a possibility. Would 3 or 4 days be long enough to stay or should we plan a longer visit?
After having both knees replaced, there are no high heels in my closet anymore! We experienced cobblestone streets in Boston recently. A model in high heels was doing a photo shoot and I kept expecting her to fall down. We would definitely enjoy a walking tour.
I need to research the activities planned for Montreal's birthday celebration. Thanks for the suggestions to visit the Botanical Gardens, Musee des Beaux-Arts, and the plateau area on Mont Royal.
I have the Fodor's Tour Guide for Montreal and Quebec City that I need to study thoroughly and will need to gather tourist information on Ottawa.
Welcome to the nation's capital....Ottawa will be a hub of activity this year with the celebration of our 150th. There are a number of things to see and do but all is dependent on the time of year that you are planning to visit. Accommodations in Ottawa have hit ridiculous prices for our National Holiday...July 1st...the Marriott downtown Ottawa is asking 3x the average rate during the week leading up to July 1 and the Delta which is down the road has doubled their prices during this time. All the otherS, CY, RI, TS and FFI are sold out and have been for a couple of months. If your visit is in May, we have the Tulip Festival which is a wonderful story...
"Following the Nazi Invasion of the Netherlands during the Second World War, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands took refuge in Ottawa along with her two young daughters, Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene. While in exile in Canada, Princess Juliana gave birth to her third daughter, Princess Margriet. At the time of the baby’s birth, part of the Ottawa Civic Hospital was declared Dutch soil, to allow the new princess to hold Dutch nationality exclusively. Ottawa also helped to celebrate the princess’ birth by flying the Dutch flag at the top of the iconic Peace Tower and playing Dutch music on the tower’s carillon. Ottawa was home to these Dutch royal family members until they could finally return to a liberated Netherlands in 1945.
Upon returning to the Netherlands, Princess Juliana sought to thank Ottawa and the Canadian people with several gifts, including 100,000 tulip bulbs. Today, more than one million tulips decorate downtown Ottawa each May and this lasting gift of tulips is known as the ‘Tulip Legacy.’"
Ottawa is is also home to hundreds of kilometres of bike paths that challenge all skill levels.
Parliament Hill is home to our changing of the guard ceremonies, which remind one of Buckingham Palace changing of the guard.
I could ramble forever....if you need any info do not hesitate to ask.
Guidedog613, Thank you for sharing the story of the "Tulip Legacy". I was not familiar with the circumstances that affected Princess Julianna and her daughters. The link to the Tulip Festival information was much appreciated. We will definitely have to plan a trip to Ottawa in May. Touring Keukenhof (Netherlands) has always been on our bucket, but like seeing the cherry blossoms in D.C., the aurora borealis, or peak foliage in the northeast, the peak time to visit is always a moving target. Spending the day on a bicycle touring tulip gardens would be a wonderful way to spend a day. I will let you if I need any further information.
razorbackfan, Wonderful to hear that you are planning to visit Ottawa. Canada's National Capital Region has so much to offer and there will be no better time to visit than during the 150th year. Ottawa springs to life once the long winter is over - there is a palpable energy and vibe in the air. The Tulip Festival is magnificent! Three or four days would certainly suffice, but you might consider a bit longer visit if you wish to combine outdoor activities with museums and galleries.
Here's my Ottawa Must Do List:
Parliament Hill and a guided tour of the Centre Block (the changing of the guard ceremony starts in late June)
National War Museum
Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization)
Thanks for tagging me, AZDesertRat! I definitely can give some suggestions, since I live in Montreal and have lived in Québec City.
As underlined already, 2017 should be one of the most interesting years to come visit up north, as Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary and Montreal is celebrating 375 years! A lot of extra activities are being planned as we speak to fill up an already very complete summer full of festivals.
Montreal: most time of the year you can find interesting things to do. As mentioned before, we have the world famous Montreal Jazz Festival, the only Formula1 Grand Prix of North America, the Just For Laughs comedy fest, the FrancoFolies (French-language music fest), Festival Mural (graffiti art), the LotoQuebec fireworks festival and the Montréal Complèment Cirque (circus festival) to name a few. Choose your pick and plan the rest around it.
Old Montreal and the Old Port make for lovely strolls, we have also great botanic gardens and near the Olympic Village and a indoor zoo at the foot of the Olympic stadium. You can also take the elevator up to the top of the tower of the stadium. Combination tickets are available for these activities. A visit to Montreal is not complete without climbing the mountain for a nice view over the city centre and the surrounding region. The history of Quebec is not complete without mentioning the huge catholic herritage: check out the Mary-Queen-of-the-World basilica (copy of the St-Peter of Vatican City) and the St-Joseph Oratorium (pilgrimage destination, featuring a clash of architectural styles). Not to mention the Notre-Dame basilica in Old Montreal.
How long to visit? Depending on how many activities you want to do, you can easily spend 3-4 days or even more without getting bored.
Ottawa: If you want to add this to your list of places to see, definitely go there for Canada Day (July 1st) or Tulip Fest (May 12-22). Personally, I've visited Tulip Fest for the first time last year and it was quite nice. Not as large or impressive as the Keukenhof or any other place in the Netherlands, but being a lot closer to home: it's worth visiting. Don't forget you can get free tours at the federal parliament building including going up in the big clock tower! (Probably a lot less busy in May.)
Right above me marvelmed gave a few nice suggestions, but I would add the civilization museum to the list (technically it's in Gatinau, but it's right across the river at the exit of the bridge).
How long to visit? 2-3 days should be sufficient.
Québec City: the big event is the Summer Festival (Festival d'été). If you want to get a laisser-passer (ticket for all shows and concerts), you'll need to order it online as soon as ticket sale opens! Another one of personal favourites is the Carrefour international de théâtre (international theatre festival), this year May 25 - June 10. It offers some of the finest theatre pieces currently playing in the world. Obviously Old Quebec can not be missed: with your hiking shoes start at the gates at Carré d'Youville, continue on St-Jean street and slowly find your way up to the Chateau Frontenac, after which you can go down to Petit Champlain (by foot or by cablecar) to visit the oldest part of the city.
Also look for the Abraham Battle Fields Park, the Fine Arts Museum and the Montmorency Falls (higher than Niagara Falls!)
How long to visit? Depending on what you want to do, 2 days minimum.
Tadoussac: this is one of the best places to do your whale-watching tour. Please be sustainable and choose a zodiac tour.
Quebec province has other great destinations to offer, such as Lac-Saint-Jean, the Gaspésie peninsula (Canada's #2 destination according to National Geographic, after the Rockies).
I don't have any experience with Québec's La Route Verte (Green route), but I've heard many great stories. You can visit any of the wonderful regions I've mentioned via this vaste cycling network.
Where to stay?
Montreal: I have only stayed as a guest at the Delta and the Springhill Suites.
For the elites that want to focus on the FS hotels, I would prefer the Delta. It's very close to the festivals site and slightly more central than the Marriott Chateau Champlain. The Delta certainly has a better restaurant/bar (check out the signature cocktails!) I suppose both CLs have a breathtaking view (the Delta has a balcony view that allows to see the fireworks competition, not sure about the Marriott offering a good viewing angle). The Marriott at the airport is definitely a lovely brand-new property if you have an early flight out, but I wouldn't recommend staying there while visit the city for several days.
As far as the Select Service hotels go: many options avaiable. The downtown Courtyard is also brand-new, has amazing views, a very good restaurant (Le Darlington) and amazing staff. Springhill Suites is in the middle of Old Montreal, but heavily understaffed and seems to be often used by student groups on a budget to party hard.
Quebec City: I have never considered the FS Marriott, simply because you pay top dollar for a property without CL (as far as I could find online). The Delta (which I've stayed at several times as a guest) has better rates, one of the better CLs that I've attended throughout this brand and amazing views (Golds and Plats: ask for room 1198 or 1298!)
A new Courtyard opened up last year, but it's not close to anything at all (~40 mins by bus with at least one transfer).
Ottawa: I've stayed both at the Marriott and the Delta. My favourite is the Marriott, since the rooms are significantly larger and has a better CL. There are also some Select Service properties, but I haven't stayed there (yet?)
Still not an option to tag Delta Hotels in the location tags....
So jealous that you are doing this trip! We drove from Boston to Montreal last year via an overnight in Burlington VT, took in the Grand Prix (an unforgettable experience) and many of the tourist sites mentioned above. We drove on to Quebec and loved it there - the food was SENSATIONAL! We then drove up via Maine to Prince Edward Island (a bucket list item for my wife) before driving back to Boston. I can't help with Marriott reports - we clocked up 15 SPG stays on the trip (this was before the programmes could be linked)!
We stayed at both of the Four Points - both are way out of the city. Being Four Points, the recognition is not particularly good at either, though the free breakfast was better at the Levis Convention Centre, where we had access to the full buffet whereas the Four Points Resort just offered a continental. Wish we had tried the Pur Hotel - in the city centre, but a bit of an SPG anomaly, it seems to be affiliated without being a member of any particular brand. When I asked about it on the SPG advisory forum, no-one knew anything about it. The FP Resort had excellent sports facilities, good golf course etc. Incidentally, when we stayed at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Montreal (in most ways a standard airport hotel) we were surprised ( but delighted) to find that the lounge hosted a happy hour, with some good free wine & beer, unusual for Starwood in North America, but very much the norm in the rest of the world.
If I'm allowed to jump in on the SPG sites:
YogiB We are very interested in staying near the city centers, so thank you for pointing out the hotels that are too far out to make exploring convenient. I am going to research the SPG properties you mentioned and see which of those would meet our needs. I have studied the Marriott properties in Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City and have worked out a preliminary stay chart, but since I did not make any prepaid reservations I can change the reservations as needed. Right now, I have 3 nights in Ottawa, 4 nights in Montreal, and 5 nights in Quebec City. We may take a couple of day/night trips from Quebec so that number of nights is currently very flexible. We may fly in and out of Montreal because of the flight schedules/prices/size of plane, so there may be a couple of more nights added there. We also considered including Toronto, but there would just be "too many pieces in the puzzle" and the hotel prices were astronomical!
Good news that you're planning is taking form, razorbackfan!
Montreal is definitely, out of these three cities, the most convenient for flying.
If you want to take public transit into town, note that the ticket for the 747 bus is a 24h ticket good in the entire transit system (metro + bus). You can also take a longer ticket right away, such as unlimited weekend or 3-day ticket. Week or longer passes are only available on a rechargeable OPUS chip card ($), but can be used in Québec City as well to charge tickets on.
However, you may not want to drag your luggage through the metro system, since there aren't a lot of elevators.
YogiB I appreciate the information on the airport express bus. Buying an OPUS chip card may make sense. We may also be going straight to the the train station from the airport (Montreal to Ottawa) depending on our flight schedule and a shuttle is provided on that route, but we would probably need the 747 when we return to the airport. We try to take advantage of public transportation when we are traveling. I will have to look closely at using the metro because we will be traveling with luggage. One thing I noticed during my research on ViaRail is the weight limit on carry-ons (25 lbs.) and suitcases (40 lbs.). I can manage that weight limit without a problem, but it could become a problem for bikinchris and all his camera gear. He may have to be prepared to pay the excess weight fee which I think was 10CAD for an extra 10 lbs.
I am glad that you pointed out that the FS Marriott in Quebec City does not have a concierge lounge. According to Flyer Talk, that information is correct. They provide a 10CAD f&b credit and a 10CAD appetizer credit. The Delta is more expensive (about 50CAD a night if I remember correctly), but I think it would probably be worth it. I'll have to study it some more, so I can make an informed decision.
The Delta is more expensive (about 50CAD a night if I remember correctly), but I think it would probably be worth it. I'll have to study it some more, so I can make an informed decision.
That's odd, the Delta is usually slightly cheaper. It might be because of a big conference happening at the Quebec Congres Centre, which is next door.
As for VIA Rail: look at the different trains. I believe there is one train per day that has a luggage wagon, so checking in luggage is obligatory and they'll surely measure your luggage. On the regular trains, the sometimes randomly check people, especially when there is a large line-up. If you only arrive at the line up when people are already boarding the train and you can act like it weighs nothing, you might get away with it.
razorbackfan, I do the via train quite a bit, I was actually surprised that you found a weight limit, because they don't seem to enforce it. Compared to airlines, i have seen some pretty big bags. Also, I think you said that you are getting on at Dorval Train Station. This is a tiny little station, and not many will be getting on there, so i doubt that your bags would be checked for weight there.
My experience is i always carry on my luggage, i have only checked a bag once and it was a disaster.
There are some renovations going on in Ottawa on the government buildings so you may not be able to get into some,
I use the 747 bus into town, that yogi suggests, it has always worked out for me. I get the pass for what ever length of time i am there because it is less than two one way trips to the airport and it lets you use any bus or metro in the system while you are there. There is a luggage rack and the route is good for most of the hotels in the core. Depending on where you stay, there is some cobblestone in Montreal and a lot in Quebec City and rolly bags don't do so well.
I think you made a good choice in not trying to squeeze Toronto in, If you come an other time to Toronto, it is an excellent place to use points on dollar per point return.