to visit (southern) Quebec:
Best weather: May-September. Skiing, Dec-March. OK: Skiing, Nov-May.
Worst: Oct-March unless for winter sports. As always, in
July/August crowds & prices will be up.
Quebec is Canada's largest province and resolutely French. Quebec City is indisputably Canada's prettiest and most European city, while some of the
best winter sports can be found in the province and their cuisine, culture
and joie de vivre are famously rich and invigorating.
Old Quebec City, centred on Frontenac Chateau
An historic walled city (founded in 1608) in a stunning cliff location,
Ville de Quebec is the capital of the province and a fine France
substitute for North Americans without the time, money or inclination to travel long-haul to the Old World.
Vieux Quebec, the old town's ramparts, fortifications, cobbled streets, picturesque ancient buildings and historic home-museums are
a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evocative of a distant Europe and perfectly walkable, especially the Terrasse Dufferin promenade high over the river with its charming
cafés, gazebos and sophisticated, francophile (i.e. they are not too wild about speaking English!) locals.
Kids love walking the city walls, the funicular ride, the ferry across the river, the endless street performers, while
as a romantic destination, especially for a White Christmas, Vieux Quebec is difficult to beat; for a different perspective take a Levis Ferry trip on the St Lawrence River to see a 'postcard' view of the city.
Downhill and Cross-country skiing: numerous good slopes/trails less than one hour from Quebec City;
many skiers like to commute from the city. See Mont Tremblant lower down this page.
Skating: many long circuits all around,
some free. Oct-March.
Biking: Excellent trails in and around
the city, some of the best in Canada. Rentals available.
Wildlife near the city, see the dedicated section at the bottom of this page.
Late January - February, Quebec City, Quebec Winter Carnival, a vigorous 2 week celebration of parades, themed parties, ice sculptures and,
bien sur, winter sports of every description.
July, Festival d'Eté International, two weeks of all kinds
of music, much of it free.
End July-early August, Quebec Musical Firework Competition.
Montreal's old town, Vieux-Montreal
Canada's second largest city, Montreal is architecturally Europe
meets New York, especially in the old quarter.
The essence of the city is not specific attractions but a
relaxed European ambience, a wild nightlife and multitude of international events and festivals. Second only to Paris in numbers
of French speaking people, Montreal is a lively, bilingual, multi-cultural
city surrounded by rivers but untouched by the narrow-minded nationalism
sometimes visible in Quebec City.
North Americans seeking a quick and easy France experience would
do well to vacation in Montreal or Quebec City.
Some of the most popular sights are:
the massive, stylish Botanical gardens (Jardin Botanique de Montreal) that house 20,000 plant species in many differing gardens including Japanese and Chinese; Saute-Moutons Jet Boat Tours; Jean-Talon Market
for superb food at street prices; the stunningly ornate Notre-Dame Basilica; the small but well-preserved and charming Old Town (Vieux-Montreal).
January-February, weekends only, La Fete des Neiges (Snow Festival), Montreal,
dominated by a huge and labyrinthine snow castle.
June, Montreal Fringe Festival, a lively international theatre event.
June-July, Montreal International Jazz Festival.
July, Just For Laughs, Montreal, a world comedy festival.
August, Montreal Pride, a huge performing arts festival, gay, but not
exclusively so. Free concerts, shows, parties conferences and more.
Winter sports: lots of cross-country
ski areas, snowshoeing areas, toboggan runs and alpine ski slopes at Mont Tremblant (see below).
Skating: very big in this city of champion
ice hockey teams. There are around 200 open-air rinks in the city.
Walks/hikes: Plenty of these too when
Jogging: Many paved trails.
Biking: Montreal has a network of around
100 miles of dedicated bike trails. Rentals available. Montreal has 400 miles of bike and skate paths.
In-line skaters (roller blades): Popular,
especially in Vieux-Port area. Rentals available.
Wildlife near the city, see dedicated section at the bottom of the page.
Mont Tremblant: just 1.5 hour's drive from Montreal (75 miles/120 kms) in the Laurentian Mountains Mont Tremblant National Park is east Canada's biggest sports/recreation destination, summer or winter, packed with all the usual activities (including dog sledding, ice climbing, zip lines, but skiing is #1) as well as spas, golf courses, and a casino. Mont Tremblant also has an airport with direct flights from Toronto and New York City. More.
The vast Saguenay Region (picturesque villages, fjords, rivers, lakes and mountains) a short distance north of Quebec City and favourite escape chute for city folk also provides a lot of adrenalin action both in winter and summer. A gorgeous bike route around Lake Saint-Jean, the Blueberry Cycling Route (Veloroute des Bleuets) is an outstanding attraction.
Getting up close with wildlife on Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine.
Quebec Wildlife: there are several good wildlife reserves not far from the cities, such as Jacques-Cartier National Park, 50km north of Quebec City or Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area on the north shore of the St Lawrence River in the Saint-Joachim region, 40 minutes drive north-east of Quebec City.
Baie Ste. Catherine, two hours north of Quebec City in upper Charlevoix is packed with vast numbers and variety of whales (including beluga and minke) from mid-June to early October. Visible from land but of course tour boats get a lot closer and provide interesting information too.
Tadoussac is a famous whale-watching town on the St Lawrence River, not a pretty town but the vicinity is attractive and the fjord and whale tours pricey fun. Beluga whales are an especially popular sight.
Further out, on the Gaspé Peninsula:
Forillon NP offers a variety of environments including a sea coast with dunes, salt marshes, cliffs and forests. Forillon is home to moose, bears, seals and whales, as well as porcupines.
Iles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) are a remote group of inhabited islands (near Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) good for fishing, bird watching in spring and autumn
and seal watching most of the time.
More Quebec Wildlife.
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