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Montreal in October for long birthday weekend


Aug 11th, 2010, 10:36 AM
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Montreal in October for long birthday weekend

Hi - My husband and I are planning a quick get away to Montreal (never been) for 3 days in the beginning of October. We really wanted to go to Paris, but then we came up with this idea that seems to be as close as we'd get on our budget! (I believe we are staying at the Embassy Suites (Hilton) not too far from Old Montreal.) I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions on what to do/see while there for only a short time ( we will have a car ).

We will definitely go see the Old Montreal area as we really like the quaint feel, cafes etc. When we went to Paris last year we loved being able to buy a bottle of wine, baguette, cheese and picnic somewhere outside... can you do this in Montreal? Is it legal to drink in public there? Any suggestions on what to see or do or where/what to eat would be great!

How is the weather in early Oct? We are from Boston... can't imagine it would be much different....
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Aug 12th, 2010, 04:14 AM
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Hi - the Embassy Suites is practically in Old Montreal - just walk around the corner. The main part of downtown is almost as close in the other direction.

There are lots of restaurants and outdoor patios, but I suspect that otherwise you can't drink in public outside licensed facilities (I'm guessing this but other Canadian provinces definitely have this law). That being said - my spouse and I often do picnics with wine or beer when we travel - but we'll find a park conducive to this and be a bit subtle, e.g. bring some plastic drinking cups and pour discreetly. However we've never actually done this in Montreal. Hopefully someone else can suggest some locations. Weather maybe slightly cooler than Boston (the Weather Network has statistics for all major cities online for a comparison of averages).

Seeing you are looking for quaint, I wonder if you considered Quebec City instead? The "Old Quebec" ("Vieux Quebec") district is one of the oldest historical areas in North America, more extensive than Old Montreal with cobblestone alleys, street artists and performers, 17th century buildings converted to restaurants, cafes, inns and interesting shops, etc. There, a possible picnnic spot would be the Montmorency Falls which are a short drive outside the city and I believe might have a picnic park. For supplies, the Quebec City Old Port Market (Marché du Vieux-Port) is just outside of the "Lower City" of Old Quebec, adjacent to the St. Lawrence River.

I haven't done this at that time of year, but for a day-trip a little further afield, I'm thinking the fall colours could be spectacular if you keep driving north along the St. Lawrence from Montmorency into the picturesque and hilly Charlevoix region.

I know I'm veering away from your planned getaway, sorry, but only because I tend to think of Montreal as a Big-City destination, offering a great day of strolling Old Montreal but particularly popular for Night Life. Quebec City is more of a Charming and Romantic destination and although some will say 3 days is a lot there, if you spend one of those days picnicing and day-tripping, I think that amount of time would be perfect.
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Aug 12th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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Hi maxmox

I've noticed Montreal weather is often a bit cooler (say, 10 degrees Fahrenheit) than that in Boston, but not always.

I don't THINK it's legal to drink in public here in Quebec. However, I see people do it all the time. That said, I also DID see some cops come over to speak to some picnickers sipping some bières en cannette on a plot of grass by the Lachine Canal the other day.

3 days in Montreal? You honestly shouldn't need that car much and parking CAN be a bit of a headache/expense. Biosphere, Botanical Gardens, Parc Lafontaine, Old Montreal, climbing the mountain, exploring the Plateau Mont-Royal/Mile-End, going to the Jean-Talon or Atwater Markets, cycling the Lachine Canal or to Jean Drapeau Park via Bixi... plenty to keep you busy. If you wanted a day trip by car, there are many options. I'll throw out the fort in Chambly as one interesting choice, in a lovely setting, but frankly, I doubt you'll have time to do that.

Like mat54, I don't think of Montreal as "quaint", although I know the history can charm (just like some of the rowhouses in Philadelphia can be charming, but are they quaint?).

Have a great trip! Daniel
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Aug 13th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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Thanks mat54 and Daniel for your great responses. We decided on Montreal over Quebec City b/c we are driving from Boston and it is the closer choice! 5 1/2 hours will be enough time in the car for us - otherwise I would take you up on that suggestion! I suppose we will park the car for those few days and hopefully forget about it... would be nice to get some walking in!

As it turns out a couple of our close friends will be joining us which will be fun - so maybe the night life will be a plus after all! Can you suggest any particular spots for night life, or places for dinner with nice views/patios? Does the botanical garden still do the thing at night with the chinese lanterns and is that something worthwhile to do in the evening?

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Aug 16th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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A few years ago, I took my husband to Montreal for his birthday. Because of a family emergency, we had to delay the trip to October instead of late September, and despite the cool wet weather we had a great time. I had worked quite a bit in Montreal so I had a free night (with an upgrade to a suite) at the Queen Elizabeth so that's where we ended up staying. I booked a couple of great restaurants for dinner and we took cabs both times since they weren't within walking distance. Other than that, we walked. We had taken the train from Toronto, which was perfect for staying at the QE, and we really had no need for a car.

One funny experience though with the cab. We were going from the Queen Elizabeth to Lemeac restaurant on Saturday evening. We had the address, but the cabbie had no clue where it was. I had given my husband a GPS for his birthday and gadget guy that he is, he had brought it along with him - he thought it would be useful when we were out walking. It actually came in quite handy that evening!
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Aug 16th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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The Chinese lanterns are not year-round, only during certain times in the fall I believe. Oddly enough, even though I go to the Botanical Gardens quite regularly, I've never been during the lantern-fest. I've heard it's lovely though.
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