driving from montreal to Nova Scotia

Old Feb 19th, 2010, 10:25 PM
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driving from montreal to Nova Scotia

Hi all,

I'm an American, looking to explore a little of southeast Canada next May. Since, I think the best way to travel is to set your own pace, I was thinking of renting a car in Montreal and driving to Nova Scotia, stopping in Quebec for a night or two and other places, if anyone has suggestions.

1. Will I have trouble renting a car in Montreal? And would it be okay to drop the car off in Nova Scotia, since I want to continue my way to Maine via a boat?

2. Is the trip worth it? It looks like I'ld be taking Route 20, 2, and 102 during the trip. How's the scenic view? Lots of things to see or do along the way? Also, are these roads safe and well traveled or terribly isolated?

Thanks a bunch.
wander_bug10 is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2010, 05:59 AM
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Hi wander_bug

I think the CAT ferry services from Yarmouth Nova Scotia-Maine are no longer running, at least that's what one poster indicated a while ago...


I've never been by road much past Quebec City (outside the immediate vicinity of the two cities, it's not scenic at all Montreal-Quebec City on the main Autoroute), only by train have I gone all the way to Nova Scotia...It's quite rural in northern and central New Brunswick; the Baie des Chaleurs was a scenic highlight of the train ride in a peaceful, remote sort of way with views of the hills of the Gaspe peninsula opposite. However most drivers I know go the faster way via Edmunston, New Brunswick, which does not take you too close to the Baie.

I have friends who have driven that way (to Moncton, NB) from Montreal... Roads are fine they say, and that things quiet down north of Quebec City; they mentioned lots of trees in inland New Brunswick.

Hopefully others will chime in with some ideas.

Daniel_Williams is online now  
Old Feb 20th, 2010, 07:10 AM
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You will have no trouble renting a car in Montreal. You may, however, have to pay a one-way charge but if you shop around, you might be able to find a company that doesn't add it on.

I wouldn't take Autoroute 20 (Trans-Canada)unless you are pressed for time. The most scenic route between Montreal and Quebec City is on the north shore, Hwy 138, which is known as the Chemin du Roy because it was one of the earliest roads along the river. I would take Autoroute 40 as far as Trois-Rivières and the continue to Quebec City on 138.

After Quebec City (to which you should devote at least two days) it again depends on how much time you have. I would spend a couple of days along the north side of the river visiting the Ile d'Orléans and the Charlevoix, with an overnight in either Baie St Paul or La Malbaie. The countryside and the scenery are quite beautiful. You could then take the ferry across the river from St Siméon to Rivière du Loup and continue on to the Maritimes.

However, the South Shore is just as interesting if you take the old highway (132) along the shore--there are many interesting towns such as Montmagny, St-Jean-Port Joli, and Kamouraska. Only if you are pressed for time would I recommend continuing on Hwy 20.

Through New Brunswick, Hwy 2 (Trans-Canada) is a good road, but you might want to get off it from time to time for such places as Grand Falls, Hartland (world's longest covered bridge), King's Landing Historical Village, Fredericton and Sackville.

In Nova Scotia, I might be tempted to leave the Trans-Canada Highway (104)at Amherst and follow hwy 2 to Parrsboro and along the Minas Basin to Truro before rejoining 104 and then 102 to Halifax.

Again, I don't know how much time you have, but instead of heading directly to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick,you could also cross the Confederation Bridge to PEI and return to the mainland by ferry from Wood Island to Nova Scotia (near Pictou). You would want to spend at least a night on PEI.
laverendrye is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2010, 01:50 PM
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If you do end up taking the trip, definitely go along hwy #138 from Montreal to Quebec City.

You will likely need to stay in Canada if you are an American with a Canadian rental car, so that strong implies the path up around near Riviere-du-Loop or the like.

I wouldn't exactly say there are "lots of things to do" along the path in eastern Quebec and in the Maritimes. The scenery is fine, and there are "enough things to do" during your stopovers.

I think I'd consider a route via Gaspe, Campbellton, and Moncton vs. the alternative of Edmundston-Fredericton. It would be longer and more scenic.

By the way, a surprising favorite appeal to many of the small towns in Quebec are the splendid churches located in most of them. (I'm not even religious, and I didn't stop)

I'm sure the roads are reasonably well-traveled, and supremely safe (for their usually not being "on the way to anywhere" unlike various paths through the central U.S.).

Once you get to Moncton, you'll stop to watch the Tidal Bore (which could make you yawn, depending)... and then strongly consider going down to "Hopewell Cape" (most preferably at low tide if you can only be there once). Next you have the option of taking the Confederation Bridge to PEI, as mentioned here previously.

At any rate, save some time for viewing the tides in the Bay of Fundy. If you want a good hike... "Cape Split" requires a drive near Wolfville, NS... to "Scots Bay", beyond which you park your car, and then walk 2 1/2 hours out to the end of a cape, which will have you well out in the Bay of Fundy, with the world's highest tides at work down below.

It is said that the amount of water that passes between Cape Split and Port Greville (other side of the water) during the average day, is equivalent to the combined flow of all the rivers on earth during the average day.

If there is time, go north to see Cape Breton for a couple of nights... and save a couple of more days for Halifax.

I hope you can find a suitable way to get from NS to Maine.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2010, 09:04 PM
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Route 20 might be the least scenic road in all Quebec. Avoid it. Take route 138 on the north shore. As mentionned above, highway 40 up to Trois-Rivières and 138 from there is a good choice.

East of Quebec, I prefer the north shore as well. Charlevoix is quite hilly with lots of pretty scenery. You also pass by Montmorency Falls and St-Anne basilica. Make sure you take route 362 between Baie-St-Paul and La Malbaie. A good side trip is île-aux-Coudres. Route 362 is very hilly and twisty so go easy. Another side trip would be inland to Haute-Gorge-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie par5l near La Malbaie. You can cross the St-Lawrence in St-Siméon or Les Escoumins. I suggest Les Escoumins so you'll go by Tadoussac. The whales won't be there yet though.

The south shore is flat and somewhat similar to the north shore between MTL and QC, though prettier IMO. I suggest the north shore for variety.
Erick_L is offline  
Old Mar 16th, 2010, 09:24 PM
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Thank you much!! All the suggestions sound great and I can't wait to have a finalized plan for my trip. And, thanks, Daniel, for pointing out the closing of the CAT. It's strange, because the CAT website is still running and there's no indication that it's closed. I'm gonna have to call and see what's happening.

Thanks again.
wander_bug10 is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2010, 06:39 AM
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We did a similar trip last summer, drove East from Quebec and stopped at Rivière du Loup for lunch (found a great spa to have lunch in, all French speaking though), then headed South toward Alma, staying in Grand Falls for a night. We skipped NS since we had to drive back to NY, (saving NS for another trip).

The roads are excellent and very quiet once you leave Quebec. Definitely stop in Hartland to see the Covered Bridge and buy some Covered Bridge Potato Chips.

When we reached Bar Harbor on the way back, it was a shock to be in traffic again, you tend to quickly forget how rural places can be. That being said, it was a great trip.

I did write a trip report if you link onto my name.
owlwoman is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2010, 02:06 PM
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(Remembers own meal in Riviere-du-Loup)

A fast-food pizza place, and not a word of english... hand signals and numbers.

Then the french lady dropped something and she said: "Oops"
NorthwestMale is offline  
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