Quebec, CANADA

Forgive me, I figured I'd direct this question to the section dealing with France... I am devastated that there is no Rick Steves' guide to Quebec! I'm trying to assemble as much Rick-style information as I can-- I will be travelling to Montreal to attend an immersion French course at UQAM for three weeks next July 25-August 15 or so. I have never travelled to Canada before, but I have quite a bit of experience travelling with Rick's books in Europe. What can I expect in July/Aug in Montreal? Crowds? Weather? What kinds of tourist traps are there? I'm used to avoiding restaurants that boast "we speak english", but what's the equivalent of that in Montreal? Is Montreal more European or North American or half and half? Should I behave in the same way as I do in France? Any tips for living cheaply there like a college student? Are there stores/pharmacies that are open 24 hrs or very late like in the U.S.? Are stores/pharmacies open on Sundays?
Feel free to post ANY info you have about travelling in Quebec or Canada in general!!! Thanks!

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5296 posts

Should you behave the same way as you do in France? Well, how do you behave in France? With respect for the local culture? If so, then yes. The weather in July and August will likely be hot and humid. I have no knowledge of tourist traps nor do I know what you consider to be a tourist trap. Montreal is probably the most European city in North America, and you need to know that French is the official language... this is not a bilingual city ... well... it is really, but not officially. Are you getting a sense of what goes on here from what I am saying? Most stores are open on Sunday ... in that we we are very North American. There are a lot of quite good "bring your own bottle" (of wine) restaurants (google for a list) and many other really excellent restaurants. Most restaurants have servers who speak English and if you encounter one that doesn't, then here comes your opportunity to speak your newly acquired French. Once you are installed at UQAM (Univ. of Quebec at Montreal) your fellow students will clue in on all kinds of stuff (my husband taught there for a while) and I think Montreal will insinuate itself into your heart, just as Paris has done for so many of us.

Posted by Ilja
2732 posts

Norma, is Montreal even more European looking than Quebec City? I read about them and saw pictures of both. One day I am going to visit them so then I will know. In the meantime you can satisfy my curiosity.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24177 posts

Norma, Excellent description and nice to have someone here that can provide "first hand" information! Unfortunately, although I've transited through Montreal, I haven't made it there (or Quebec City) for a visit yet. I was speaking with someone this afternoon who "hails" from Quebec, and they suggested I should take a break from Europe and visit Quebec. One of these days..... Cheers!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13893 posts

My memory, from living in Montreal and travelling to Quebec for the Ice Festival - both nearly 40 years ago - is that neither looks European, whatever that is. Montreal is a lovely cosmopolitan city, Old Montreal was cobblestones, small and quaint. Quebec is dramatically smaller, perhaps overall cuter, but when its 40 below and people are partying outside some of the atmosphere is .... well .... The houses and buildings in both are neither USan or European, they are from Quebec. About the only thing that people say about Montreal which looks European is that many of the houses have iron balconies. That's true in New Orleans too. Is New Orleans European? Its a shame I had to leave PQ.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5296 posts

Well, I forgot about Quebec City, actually, which Montrealers have a tendency to do. And yes, it is very cute. When I say Montreal is a lot like a European city I certainly don't mean it looks like one, though Vieux Montréal does, I guess. It is the ambiance, the life style, the attitude, the cultural diversity of the place that has kept a lot of the Anglo community here long after the nervous members sped off to Toronto and points west. Since this is a European Helpline I think that is all I should say on the subject.

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

Loved Montreal and the surrounding area. Don't miss the Notre-Dame Basilica, especially during any type of performance. Enjoyed Richelieu Valley. Spent a week in Montreal and was never bored. You will enjoy it!