Le Vouler des Voyages en Quebec

Montreal and Ville de Quebec, Canada

I had the good fortune to spend 3 days in Montreal and 2 days in Quebec.  

Pictures from my trip are online at photos.yahoo.com/reisefrau in the “Montreal and Quebec” album.  Other impressions and advice are here below.

Montreal

Quebec

Montreal

Major Points of Interest:

  • Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal (Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal)—This is a world-class connection of Canadian paintings from the 19th century to the present, decorative arts from around the world, and artifacts from Asian, African, and Latin cultures.  Best of all, it’s FREE! (though donations are encouraged).
  • Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal)—This area has a port and an old market which looks like a capitol building; now it’s shops and restaurants. Streets such as Rue St. Paul have some pretty good bars and some pricey but good restaurants.  The hostel I stayed in was down here, which was nice.
  • Chateau Ramezay—This old house now houses exhibits on the history of Montreal.  I learned a lot not only about Montreal, but about America and Native Americans (called First Nations in Canada). 
  • Quartier Chinois (Chinatown)—Part of this area is a pedestrian street with many Chinese restaurants and bakeries, plus some Vietnamese pho places. There were moments when it reminded me of Taipei. Good stuff.
  • McGill UniversityThe campus is set into the hills of park Mont Royal. Its old buildings are lovely.

Food. Many restaurants and sandwich bars have a pre-fixe menu with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert with coffee or tea.  Often the appetizer or dessert is listed simply as “chef’s choice”.  I didn’t quite have the budget to buy anything on the “lobster festival” menu, and I didn’t have the appetite for all you can eat mussels.  For the most part, I chose to stick with sandwich and salad bars that people working in Montreal visited on their lunch break. I have to put in a good word for Café Crescent on Rue Crescent near the Museum of Fine Arts; their salad with cheese and sliced meat was fantastic.  Also, I have to mention Ben’s Restaurant, a traditional Jewish deli and home to Montreal’s famous smoked meat sandwich (similar to pastrami or corned beef).  The central train station in Montreal also has great places to grab a sandwich for the train ride. Be aware, however, that these shops close up around 8.

Nightlife. Rue Crescent seems to be the place to go for a good pub crawl. Rue St. Denis had many places as well.

Other observations:  If New York is the city that never sleeps, Montreal is the city that stays up late and wakes up late.  When my bus arrived at 6:00 a.m., I had a hard time finding a coffeeshop that was open. Even Starbucks didn’t open until 7:00 during the week.  Also, tourist areas really start shutting down after Labor Day. For example, my AAA guidebook listed Parc Jean Drapeau, The Old Fort, and the Stewart Museum as a gem.  When I got there though, most of the park was under construction, the shops and eateries were closed, and the fort looked like it had just hosted a wedding and was still waiting for someone to pick up the empty bottles of booze.

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Ville de Quebec (Quebec City, aka Quebec)

I have to say that the whole city of Quebec is one giant must-see. Even the train station is beautiful.  Walk around the place for an hour or two and you’ll discover almost all of these treasures, at least at a glance. In fact, I recommend a walking tour for 18 CAD with Voirs Quebec.  They are found at the tourist office near the top end of the Funincular.

I’ll try to break it down for you though:

  • The Citadel—One of the old forts of the city. 
  • The Battlefields Parkincludes the Plains of Abraham where the British and French fought for control of the city.
  • Parliament—Quebec is the capital of the province, but this building feels like a national capital, Beautiful, big, and grand, with statues of important Quebecois heroes around it.
  • The Ramparts—These are the walls of the city.  Check out the view of the St. Laurence River from here. Amazing.
  • The City gates at St. Louis, and Rue St. Jean
  • Chateau Frontenac—A hotel built during the expansion of the Canadian Railway, and designed to look like an old French Chateau.  It is still a hotel with fine shops and restaurants.  An impressive edifice to say the least.  
  • Dufferin Terrace—Next to Chateau Frontenac is a boardwalk with another great view of the St. Lawrence River.
  • Place Royale—A restored area of old stone houses; now home to shops, restaurants, and expensive housing
  • Petit Champlain—Around the corner from Place Royale or down the hill on the Funincular, a picturesque cobblestoned street with fine shops. Budget travelers beware—there’s some great stuff and great food on this street.
  • Musee de la Civilisation (Museum of Civilization)—Has exhibits on the peoples of Quebec, and special exhibits on other cultures. When I was there they had

Food.  It was here that I threw out the budget sheet and succumbed to the joys of fine dining.  I actually skipped many of the restaurants around Rue St. Louis that catered to tourists.  On Rue St. Jean I found a neighborhood restaurant Bonnet d’An (Anne’s Bonnet) that had fantastic Veal aux Charlevoix.  I also enjoyed a nice chicken dinner at Bistro Sous-le-Fort on Rue Sous-le-Fort near Petit Champlain.  I had French onion soup and a superb escargot appetizer at Café du Monde, next to the cruise ship port.  The atmosphere was as exquisite as the view of the river.  Breakfast was not so expensive.  I enjoyed a gaufre (Belgian waffle) on Rue St. Jean, and a savory crepe at another restaurant on Rue St. Jean.  For an afternoon snack, I went to Ashton, a kind of fast food restaurant, for a regional dish called poutine. It’s French-fried potatoes covered in a thin gravy and cubes of cheese.  Tastes better than it sounds is all I can say.

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