I know this veers off topic, but I have noticed that several liners are Canadians and I’ll bet some may have good advice for us. We are planning a trip to Quebec next summer (myself, DH, DS18, DS16, DS11, DD7 and DD3). We have never been to Canada before and are looking forward to finally making it up there! Also after visiting WDW last August we decided to vacation somewhere a bit cooler this year! We got a great airfare and now have to figure the rest out. Any recommendations on where to stay (considering a VRBO-type rental vs 2 hotel rooms), attractions to see, restaurants to visit and whether to rent a car or not? I’m hoping to stay close enough to sites and restaurants to not need a rental car, unless we need one anyway to get around. Any input is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Are you going to Quebec City, Montreal, or somewhere else in ‘La Belle Provence’? Also (because this is VERY RELEVANT outside of Montreal), parlez vous francais?
Quebec City, the older area I presume is where most attractions to see are located? My DS18 will have just finished 4 years of French in high school so we will be relying on him! But I hear most speak English there also?
Also DS18 and I are taking a tour of France earlier in the summer so hopefully I will pick up a bit!
As @AkronAaron mentioned, outside on Montreal this can be a little problematic. However, if you have someone who is at least attempting to speak French, the locals are more likely to offer to speak English to make things easier.
I grew up in Québec (fully bilingual, though from an English-speaking family). Bienvenue / welcome!
You will be fine in many regions of Québec- from Montréal to Québec City, you will find English speakers to assist you wherever you go. Even in other regions dependent on tourism, you will find people who can speak English (try whale watching Tadoussac, for example or a visit to Mont-Tremblant or a visit to the fjords in The Saguenay-Lac St. Jean region- this area is the most francophone part of the province). Canada’s capital, Ottawa, is across the river from Gatineau, Qc, and also has a plethora of museums and activities to take in only 2 hours away from Montréal (by car).
In terms of language, French-speaking Quebeckers will always appreciate someone who tries to speak their language. Basic sentences, s’il-vous-plait, merci, etc… demonstrate courtesy and go along way to breaking the ice and contribute to positive interactions.
I can’t comment on VRBO, as I am a hotel girl myself, but I highly recommend Le Château Frontenac in Québec City and its sister hotel in Montréal Le Reine Elizabeth. They are splurges, but the Chateau in particular sits atop the bluff of the old city and is central to everything. There is Marriott below the bluff; it’s very nice, too. Parts of the movie Catch me if you can was filmed in the Old City. I can look into some of the more desirable neighbourhoods for a VRBO listing if you’d like.
Would you also like me to list some museums or other attractions to visit in a follow-up response to this thread?
Yes please! Thank you so much, we are going into this blind and although I will be researching online, firsthand advice from a local is the best!
Le Château Frontenac sounds fabulous but is a bit out of our price range since we would need two rooms for a week, but it seems being as close to that area as possible would be desirable. Other good neighborhood recommendations would be great! Do you think there would be enough in that immediate area to keep us busy or are we really going to want a car to get out further? I think we’d be willing to drive 1-2 hours for a day trip but not much more, if we rent a car. Recommendations of things to do/see would be awesome! Given our wide array of ages I need to find things that appeal to both younger kids and teens, but not necessarily at the same time, they can tolerate/appreciate each other’s interests I hope!
Here is one rental I’m looking at for example…
How important is AC in late July there? Does the weather get hot?
A few questions, if I may:
- Where are you flying to: YQB (Québec City) or YUL (Montréal)?
- Do you have your heart set on spending one week in one city or are you open to split your holiday between two cities?
- Would you be willing to take the train (Via Rail) to Québec City from Montréal, for example?
- What kind of touring do you want to do with your family? Adventurous? Cultural? Historical? A little bit of everything?
YUL summer weather 75F to 82F average; often hotter in high summer (very high humidity; so temperatures will generally always feel much warmer than the average). Central AC is a necessity, particularly if you are sleeping on upper floors.
YQB summer weather 77F average (high humidity, but further down the St. Lawrence River, so weather will often be somewhat milder than YUL’s). I would give preference to AC here, too.
Getting around: Metro (subway system) is your best bet along with on foot http://www.stm.info/en/info/fares/transit-fares/weekly-pass
Things to do:
- Science Centre https://www.centredessciencesdemontreal.com/
- Rio Tinto Alcan Planétarium https://espacepourlavie.ca/en/planetarium
- Insectarium and Biodome (currently closed for renos)
- Point-à-Callière Museum https://pacmusee.qc.ca/en/ (archeology)
- La Ronde (6 Flags amusement park) https://www.sixflags.com/larondeen
- Voiles en voiles (downtown Ropes course and family amusement park) https://www.voilesenvoiles.com/en/
- Festivals mtl.org
- Montréal Botanical Gardens https://www.mtl.org/en
- Climb Mount Royal
- Bike the Lachine Canal https://caroulemontreal.com/ene
Getting around: Walking is your best bet if you can stay close enough to the Old City. Taxis/rental van if you plan to go further afield.
Things to do:
- trip planning site for families https://www.quebec-cite.com/en/what-to-do/activities-attractions/family/
- Visit Old Québec (Plains of Abraham, The Citadelle, the Château Frontenac, la Basse-ville (lowertown), walk along the fortifications)
- Montmorency Falls https://www.sepaq.com/destinations/parc-chute-montmorency/index.dot?language_id=1
- Aquarium of Québec https://www.sepaq.com/ct/paq/
- Ile d’Orléans http://tourisme.iledorleans.com/en/
- Shopping along Petit-Champlain (cobblestone streets in the Old City)
VRB0 you are looking at looks great- well-located next to Plains of Abraham! Best price I could find for what seems to be on offer.
Will research some accommodation options in YUL, too.
We are flying into YQB so definitely plan to stick around there, unless we run out of things to do. Not that we need to be touring commando-WDW style, but one or two things a day for 6 days is what I’m aiming for, and then whatever exploring interests us. As far as the type of touring, I guess a little of everything. Certainly want to see the historical and cultural sites, and will need some things the little ones enjoy also. I understand that there is a fantastic dipped-ice cream shop that I hope to hit several times also! I could look into flying first to Ottowa or Montreal and then Quebec City, but we got such a good deal on our flight and increasing that cost would limit what else we could do. The train between Quebec City and Montreal might be a really good option for a day trip! What would be your top recommendation to see in Montreal if we had one day?
Sounds awesome! Keep an eye on Via Rail for deals (they often have amazing deals for families/kids). Tuesday is their discount day.
If you go to YUL for the day, I recommend visiting the old City/Port (including la Basilique Notre-Dame), Pointe-a-Callières museum (including going underground to visit the ruins) and the ropes course. The Old City is accessible from the Via Rail station (downtown stop is under Le Reine Elizabeth Hotel). You should also eat some poutine, hit Schwartz’s Deli for smoked meat and have some fresh Montréal bagels.
That all sounds fantastic! Looks like we have a day planned already!
Ok now you have me thinking…I’m still within 24 hours on my flight reservation…I could cancel the flight to YQB and fly into YUL instead, it’s the same price! Then we could train to Quebec City after a couple of days.
Go for it if you can. I don’t think you can go wrong. Fly into YUL and then fly out of YQB, that way you only need the train in one direction. K
My family felt like we saw all of the major sites of interest in Quebec City in 2 days / 3 nights, but we have spent many long weekends in Montreal and still find new things to do. Yours may be different, but I highly recommend a few days in and around Montreal as part of your trip.
Thank you both! I did go ahead and change our flight so we go into Montreal first and out of Quebec City. So glad to have your advice while that was still an option! I think that will give us many more options for things to see and do! Do we need to schedule the train ahead of time or can we get tickets the day of?
VIA Rail has Discount Tuesdays - sign up for an account now, and keep watching your trip dates to get a cheap train trip during your time. You will have to book the tickets on Tuesdays, but VIA offers discount tickets every day of the week (as long as you book on their website www.viarail.ca on Tuesday).
Very good to know! I will do that. Thanks!
Bonjour, Québécois de Montréal ici !!!
I see you already got a lot of answers and information from different people. I was born near Montréal and have lived in different places in the province of Québec for my entire life so I can also assist if needed.
As has been stated before, a few simple french words go a long way and you will have no issues in english in the places you plan to visit. Montréal is heavily bilingual and Québec City is super touristic and all people who work in tourism are required to know english.
I strongly encourage you to do rent a car and explore outside the cities. The most interesting and beautiful places in Québec are outside the cities, even though Montréal and Québec City also have a lot to offer.
A little more info on your family’s favorite activities would help but I strongly suggest to push to Tadoussac for some of the best whale watching in the world (seriously). If you don’t want to drive you can join a group from Québec City (even though I personnally hate tour groups maybe you don’t lol).
For the kids, there is an awesome water park near Québec City (link below). Around Montréal there is pretty much everything so maybe if you have some more specific questions I can help but here are some additional internet ressources for you.
Bienvenue au Québec, we will be so happy to welcome you here !!!
Thanks, Valcartier looks awesome, we may have to make another trip in winter for the snow playground!! Whale watching sounds very interesting, would be a new experience for us and since it has been mentioned a few times we will definitely look into it. If it is easy for Americans to rent a car there, maybe we do that rather than take the train, then we can get out of the cities more. So many good options! I will take time to look at them all in detail later! I really appreciate the welcome and advice!!
As easy for you to rent a car here as if you were in the US, no difference except for the road signs being in french LOL
The road between MTL and QC is pretty boring. In MTL, you definitely don’t need a car so maybe fly into QC, visit the city for 2-3 days then rent a car, visit around QC (including Valcartier and Tadoussac), then drive down towards MTL, keep the car to do some activities around MTL (like maybe ‘‘arbre en arbre’’ or ‘‘arbraska’’ forest adventure, Mont-Tremblant, camping in the Laurentian mountains or by the beach in Oka, etc…) and then drop the car in MTL and finish your trip without a car in the city of MTL itself and fly out of YUL. Something like that I think would be pretty great.