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Montreal and Quebec City

Its my first time to Quebec City and Montreal October 3rd to 11th. I think I am more excited than my children...mainly because I like French food!

I have 5 people, my wife and I, our kids 15, 5, and 2. Im having trouble deciding how to split up our time.

We fly into Montreal Saturday night, so I was thinking about staying the night there, plus 2 additional nights. We could rent a car and leave for Quebec City Tuesday noon and spend 4 nights there. Our flight back to PHX is Sat at 530 pm, so we could easily leave QC in the am and make it to the airport in time.

Im wondering, should I spend 4 nights in Montreal and 3 in QC, or the opposite?
Should I rent a car or take the train back and forth?
Anything that is a must see that isn't the typical tourist attraction?
We really want to see the fall colors, so is there a farm we could go visit?

Also any restaurants that I should go to?(besides Joe Beef and Pied Au cochon)

any suggestions are appreciated!

Posted by
79 posts

This is a tough call. Quebec is so quaint and has a great "old town" but it is tiny. Montreal is a very modern sophisticated cosmopolitan city. Spend the extra time there.

It's been several years since we visited but here are my suggestions:

In Quebec, we had a great meal at Aux Anciens Canadiens, a restaurant serving traditional Quebec food. The wait staff served in traditional cotumes and the food and service were excellent. We also stayed at Hotel Vincent, which, at the time, was ranked number 1 on TripAdvisor (although I see it has since slipped a bit). We had a very nice stay there.

In Montreal we stayed at Le Square Phillips Hotel & Suites. It is in a great location, easily walkable to most sights. They also have a very nice rooftop pool for relaxing after a long day. Don't recall exactly where we ate but of course we had the obligitory fondue in the old city. Make sure you see the Notre Dame Bascilica of Montreal. We were there during Easter week and got to hear the choir practicing. Nice. Also, take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the old city...they drivers are quite entertainig and interesting.

Be forewarned, the drive from Montreal to Quebec is long and boring.

Have a great time.

Posted by
8597 posts

I think Quebec city is beautiful and worth and staying a night or two. But there is eally not that much to see in the old city which is small and easily seen by walking. More of a place to see and enjoy the atmosphere, similar to Rothenburg obT. Sorry no recommendations of nearby places, although I understand Mont Tremblant area is worth seeing.

Posted by
8293 posts
  1. Give more time to Montreal than to Quebec City, which I consider too cute for words, but many others love.

  2. Take the train, do not rent a car. It's a long and not very interesting drive. If the trees are in full colour you'll see the showiness even in Montreal, or may I say especially in Montreal. The city is built around, and on, a mountain, Mont Royal, and it is spectacular in the autumn.

Posted by
7061 posts

It's been years since I've been there but I think a car would be nice when visiting Quebec City if you want to see some things outside the city such as Montmorency falls and St Anne de Beaupre basilica both of which I thought were worthwhile. I agree that the drive between the two cities is a bit boring but if you take the train you do miss some things. I was there in the spring so can't comment on the fall colors but with a car you could ask at your hotel for advice on where to go for a day trip.

Posted by
2031 posts

I like Quebec City a lot but might be hard pressed to spend four days, or even three. In Montreal, EVERYONE insisted we go to Schwartz's for smoked meat. We did some good eating in Montreal. Perhaps it was along Catherine St? Or St Denis? Sorry I cannot recall, but it was packed with many restaurants of all sorts.

Posted by
8293 posts

There is a stretch of St. Denis where there is a restaurant about every 20 feet, almost all of them worth trying. Boul. St. Laurent is where you will find Schwartz's. It has had a fairly recent change of ownership so I can't vouch for its smoked meat now, but it used to be the best in town, bar none. Sort of a rough and tumble kind of place but people line up to get in!

Posted by
4062 posts is a useful site because it searches for restaurants under several categories. It has a sister site for Quebec City.
Both populations are very serious about dining out. You will need reservations well in advance for such celebrity rooms as Joe Beef and Au pied de cochon (in other words, the Anthony Bourdain circuit) and probably will have to telephone. The most popular places can be dismissive of e-mail. Another dining room that has been renowned for a decade is Toqué! , somewhat further up-market. I've never planned far enough in advance to be able to get a table. It does offer e-mail reservations.
A popular feature in both cities is the ability to bring your own wine, marked AVV, for apportez votre vin, only at some special places. It's a useful sales feature for smaller establishments which don't have the capital to invest in a full wine cellar. My favorites for AVV, currently, are Quartier General, in the upper Plateau area, and A L'os, to the west of the Plateau in what's now called Mile End. The site is in French but the staff speak good English; the name, roughly, means At the Marrow Bone.