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Best Time to Go to Montreal and Quebec City and Where to Stay

Best Time to Go to Montreal and Quebec City and Where to Stay

Old Jul 23rd, 2010, 06:00 PM
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Best Time to Go to Montreal and Quebec City and Where to Stay

Hello,

A relative of mine is looking to make a trip to Canada next summer. She would like suggestions on whether end of July or August is better to visit Montreal and Quebec City.

She also researched some hotels in Montreal and wanted info on which is the better location in Montreal. Which would you recommend among these: The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, the Relais Lyonnais or the W Hotel. Is there any other that comes highly recommended. As far as location, which is better to the major attractions, transportation, eateries, etc. Is it better to stay in the Latin Quarter or near Old Montreal?

Is there any good recommendation for Quebec City?

How many days in each place is sufficient to see the major sites.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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Anyone have any ideas?
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 12:28 PM
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"Better" depends on what your relative is interested in doing, and how she likes doing it. Does she like to walk a lot, or would she want some sort of transportation? Is she traveling alone? I just got back from Montreal and Quebec City--spent six days in each. Six days was plenty for Quebec City, but I didn't see everything and go everywhere that I wanted to in Montreal. Is your relative interested in shopping? Montreal is great in that respect, but shopping does take time away from sightseeing. I stayed three days at the W in Montreal, and three days at Le Meredien. The W is definitely a nicer hotel, but I liked the location and feel of Le Meredien better--more my style. Personally, I would rather stay near the Latin Quarter. I thought there were too many junky souvenir stores and too many tourists in Old Montreal, but again, just my opinion. (I also was in Ottawa for three days and loved it!)
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Hi europeannovice

July and August are pretty equivalent although there are a few more festivals in July in Montreal.

I can't really recommend one way or the other with regards to the hotels, but the "W" is more ultramodern trendy, the QE more historic. Their locations are equivalent, in downtown, with the "W" a bit closer to Old Montreal. I've never been in it, but the Relais Lyonnais is in the Quartier Latin, an area of the city quite central with plenty of amenities that doesn't really appeal to me all that much. All are well-situated near eateries, easy access to attractions, metro, taxis.

3-4 nights in Montreal and 2-3 nights in Quebec City is a typical intro to the cities. Some people prefer longer.

Hope your relative has fun! Daniel
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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Maryanntex--She will be traveling with her family. She just has me doing all the leg work since I just arranged a European trip for my family this year with a lot of help from fodorites. They like to walk and see things of historical significance. She likes shopping. What part of Montreal is the Le Meredien in? I haven't looked at the maps yet. Where in Ottawa did you stay and what did you like best?

Daniel-Williams--May I ask why the Latin Quarter does not appeal to you if it is central and has plenty of amenities? What do you not like about it? As far as weather is concerned, is August or July more preferable? Is the amount of rainfall relatively the same between the two months?
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 04:27 PM
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Hi europeannovice

What is called the "Quartier Latin" is essentially the area immediately flanking Saint-Denis below Sherbrooke to about Rene Levesque Blvd, so there's really not much to it (3-4 blocks). It's pretty much a commercial stretch, so lacks some of the neighbourhood pride or parkspace you'll see in other areas of the city, like the Plateau-Mont-Royal, Mile-End or even Little Italy. Also, about a block from the Quartier Latin in Place Emilie Gamelin, homelessness and drug abuse is more in evidence than in other parts of the city; while other parts of the city one certainly can run into these urban troubles, one can't miss it in the Quartier Latin. While the Quartier Latin is not an area I per se avoid or feel worried about, in my mind it's not a major pole of attraction and I tend to be there for a purpose (such as going to a specific restaurant or to one of the theatre spaces there). The plus is it is very central, with Berri-UQAM metro right there, the only stop on three subway lines: the orange, green & yellow.

As I said, August & July are pretty equivalent. Might be cool, might be hot, might rain, might not; having lived here 13 years, both seem an equal crapshoot to me, but I don't have hard statistics.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 05:32 PM
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Le Meredien in Montreal is right by the Guy-Concordia Metro station and not far from McGill University. It is very close to the Musee de Beaux Arts and shopping along Sherbrook. Also, being close to a metro stop, you can get around many parts of the city quite easily.

In Ottawa, we stayed at the Westin in the Rideau Center and loved it. (Note that these are all Starwood hotels.) Ottawa has lots of biking/running trails and great museums. We loved the National Gallery, and really loved the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau--you just walk across the bridge to Quebec and you're there. ByWard Market is fun to walk
around--produce, flowers, restaurants, some nice shops, some souvenir stores. We got coffee (adequate) and pastries (fabulous) every morning at Planet Coffee which is on York Street next to the ByWard Market. We went antiquing on
Bank Street (took the bus there), went to Parliament Hill and saw the Changing of the Guard and looked at all the statues, especially the Terry Fox one, ate at several good restaurants, most notably Savannah--just had a great time there.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 06:30 PM
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Yes, the weather is unpredictable. Even the forecasters don't get it right. Good to know about the Quartier Latin. Thanks for the info.

Anyone else have good hotel recommendations not mentioned in the above? We have to look more closely at the W and the Le Meredien too.

They might have to add Ottawa too. Sounds interesting.

I read that the Biodome and insectarium are closed. Is it expected to re-open? Are they worth seeing? How different is the Biodome from the Biosphere?
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 06:47 PM
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I went to both cities last summer. We stayed in a B & B in the Plateau area which we really liked. I liked being able to walk down the street and be in Parc Le Fontaine in minutes. This area has a nice neighborhood feel to it with lots of restaurants and interesting streets to walk on. Plus it is close to shopping if that is something they are interested in. We went in mid-July and the days were mostly warm but the evenings were pleasant. It did rain hard a few days but we didn't let it stop us from doing things.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 07:13 PM
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KKukura--Do you remember the name of the B&B in the Plateau? That seems to be the recommended area to stay. Do you know if the B&B accepts children?
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 09:20 PM
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europeannovice, here's the website for the civilization museum in Ottawa. http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/exhib...ne-exhibitions I think it is a place that kids would love. So much to see. Even the website has on line exhibitions.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 07:07 AM
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The B & B we stayed at is called Boulanger-Bassin Bed & Breakfast, www.bbassin.com. It is not fancy by any means and it has received mixed reviews. The owner, Ken, is very knowledgeable and helpful. He makes great breakfasts too. I saw on the website he accepts children ages 6 and up. If you do a search on Fodor's there are people who stayed at other B & B's in the Plateau area which have received more consistent reviews.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 07:09 AM
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This might be helpful too. http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/montreal-quebec.html
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 08:30 PM
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Maryanntex and KKukura thanks for the links! I have my research to do for them.

If you come up with any other great walking tour companies or bus tours at either Montreal, Ottawa or Quebec City too please me know. Thanks.
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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 05:34 AM
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We just stayed at the Queen Elizabeth, and liked it quite a lot, although we thought it very business oriented. The location was fabulous for us though, since we were traveling by train with two children and an elderly man with minor mobility issues, not to mention a small mountain of luggage.

We also stayed at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and absolutely LOVED it. To get to it from the train station, we did have to put the elderly man and the luggage in a taxi with myself and the older child, while the younger one was wheeled up the hill by his mother (the cab driver was willing to take him, but we had no car seat, and his mother didn't want him riding in a taxi without one).
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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 11:20 AM
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Persimmondeb--what did you like best about Montreal and Quebec City? What did you do in each place? Will you write a trip report?

What places did you go to eat and would you recommend any? Were they within walking distance of the hotels you stayed at?
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Old Jul 27th, 2010, 05:01 AM
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I was thinking about writing a trip report, although it'll be a little bit before I have the time. We liked both cities a lot, although I've been to Montreal before, and I think Quebec City was easier with this gang, since it's more compact and tourist oriented, if extremely hilly.

In Montreal, we visited the science center by the old port, the archaelogy museum at Pointe-Calliere, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. I would not really recommend the Architecture museum for children under twelve. It was interesting, and their bookstore had a fabulous collection of books on the subject, but it was very abstract, and more like installations of modern art than the photos and blueprints I had been expecting and the children had been looking forward to. Both kids (mildly autistic 15-year-old and extremely precocious 4-year-old) really enjoyed the science and archaelogy though.

In Quebec City we strolled around a lot, rode the funicular, took the ferry to Levis, visited the Citadelle, and generally just bopped around. My sister rode a horse-drawn tram tour with the little one too, while myself, my dad, and the big one visited Maison Chevalier, which had installations of typical Quebecois interiors of varying periods.

We were moving a little slowly, due to traveling with a small child and an 82-year-old man with a cane, and I think most people would have gotten a little more in, but we had a good time.
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Old Jul 27th, 2010, 04:00 PM
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The Biosphere museum is at parc Jean Drapeau on Isle St. Helene. It is built inside the biosphere (geodesic dome) designed by Buckminster Fuller for the American pavilion at the 1967 Expo. The main part of the museum has environmental exhibits including a big permanent exhibit on the St. Lawrence.
There are lots of interactive exhibits good for kids.
Last but not least it is fascinating to see the biosphere itself and there are great views of the city from viewing platforms. It is easily reachable by Metro.
http://biosphere.ec.gc.ca/

The biodome has four different climate zones with animals from each. I am not a big fan of zoos and am therefore not so enthusiastic about it but lots of people like it.

We have stayed at the Auberge de la Fontaine in the Plateau area, right across from the park and along a major bike path. One feature that might be good with kids is access to a kitchen with snacks. There is a review on the Destinations section of this web site.
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Old Jul 29th, 2010, 06:50 PM
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In the Vieux Port there's an interesting museum devoted to Montreal city life through the centuries. It's in former fire-house. Very interesting exhibits, you can take it all in about 90 minutes.
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