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Montreal, Quebec City and Vermont

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Hi everyone. I read the other posts in this topic but they didn't exactly answer my questions. I am going this fall (probably October) to visit family in the Montpelier, Vermont area and I would like to see Montreal and Quebec City while I'm in the area. Flights from Tucson are cheaper to Montreal than to Burlington so I would just fly in and out of there. Would it be doable to see those three places in just over a week? Or would I be best to choose one between Montreal and Quebec City? I love Europe and am fluent in French and have heard that QC is much like being in France but I've also heard that Montreal is a fantastic city with so much to do. It would be hard for me to pick one! Also would it be best to rent a car in Montreal and drive all of this or take trains from one place to the next?

Thanks everyone!!

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    Using a multi-destination search function, you will find that you can fly into Montreal and home from Burlington (or the reverse) for just about the same fare as a round trip to Montreal. It will save you both time and the cost of driving. The Burlington airport used to be popular with travellers from Montreal for cheap fares in the US but the exchange rate has dampened that bargain. Greyhound, for one, does connect Montreal-Burlington.
    Subtracting the days you want to spend with family will only leave you time for a decent visit to one city. Montreal is lots bigger and more easily reached than Quebec City, despite the latter's substantial charms. One small alert: Oct. 10 is Canada's Thanksgiving holiday. One more: No car in Montreal. Public transit is good; traffic is dreadful; parking a nightmare.

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    One bit of concern... is the rental cars.

    I don't know how it is in the present, but in the very near past it was extremely unlikely that you could rent a car in another country, and bring it back into your own country without at least getting the 3rd degree. (and it might not be allowed)

    Now I don't think this really has much to do with Canada, but perhaps in order to make uniform laws for north and south, the rules were written similarly to prevent people from, say, Mexico, from renting vehicles in the USA and then bringing them back into Mexico, potentially to never be seen again.

    Then, of course, the two other countries would write similar laws just to match... and the result has been that somebody from Tucson
    might have trouble renting a car in Canada and then bringing it into the U.S.

    Look into this before you book your flights and/or anticipate driving a car you rented in Canada for the duration of your trip.

    (this would not apply if you rented a car in Burlington and then took it into Canada)

    As for the Canadian destinations... I love QC, but I think that the French there is looked-down-upon by purists... I myself don't speak French, so I was quite intrigued at the idea of being so generally immersed in French all around me. Montreal was a disappointment that way, as English was prominent in every coffee shop, and in most of the conversations I overheard.

    A favorite aspect of the area to me were the small towns I drove through when going along the St. Lawrence River. Those in a big hurry would take the #40 Freeway, but I took the #138 highway and really liked those little riverside towns, and I made particular note of their elaborate-seeming churches, even though I'm not religious.

    I am guessing that QC will have you right in a fun-filled element, with lots of neat shopping and culture.

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    It is the US Customs and Border Protection that will have the final say whether you can rent a car in Canada and drive it in the States;

    Quebec is to France as Olive Garden is to Italy, so if you really want to experience Europe and want to use real French, take advantage of cheap flights from Montreal to Paris (about CDN$750 in October) and spend a few nights there.

    Three nights in Montpellier, three nights in Paris would make for a pretty good week.

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    Sobnow my husband and I are going to have a weekend trip to NYC. He will have to fly back home after but I'd like to combine my time on the east coast with seeing my nephew in Vermont. He is in the Stowe area. I was also thinking since Montreal is cheaper to fly back to Tucson from I could spend a day or two there? Burlington to Tucson flights are pricey. What's the best plan of action for getting from NYC to Vermont, then between Montreal and Stowe? I understand there are no trains to Montreal and renting a car there and taking it to the states is also expensive and iffy. Also, is the Montreal airport easy to access from downtown? And the bus station as well? Thanks all!!!

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    Cdnyul's Olive Garden and real French comments are insulting. Quebec is a fascinating city and while it isn't France, it definitely isn't a 3rd rate fast food chain.

    As for real French, try using le parking or le weekend in Quebec City; they may think you're from France��

    Dorval -Trudeau airport is about 30 minutes from downtown and the bus station is downtown.

    There is decent rail service between Montreal and Quebec City.

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    Quebec City is a small French city. Everyone does speak English, but if you can speak French, then speak it! Everyone will appreciate it. It is very friendly. I liked the quaintness very much. Montreal is a larger city and was completely under construction while we were there in June 2015. I personally liked Quebec city better. The train ride between is easy and about 3 hours. You can fly into one and out of the other.

    I wouldn't compare Quebec with France, but it has it's own flair. It is not like Olive Garden to Italy comparison.
    To me, it is like country french. October is a great time to visit. I have stayed in both the Chateau Fronternac (Fairmont brand), looks like a castle and is very nice but expensive, but also stayed at Hotel De Vieux Quebec City and that was a lot less, small hotel, more personal and quite lovely with breakfast delivered to your door in a basket they hang on the door that you get when you wake up. My daughter and I stayed there and it is walkable to everything and the street it is on closes at night for people to walk to cafes and restaurants without traffic. I highly recommend it for a small hotel feel. When we stayed at the fronternac, it was my 50th birthday and we paid for a gold level room and were upgraded to a suite for my birthday which was very nice. I probably would not get that room again. It is a very busy large hotel. I recommend staying at the smaller hotel and having a drink at the Fronternac. Anyway, QC gets my vote.

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    Hi Lauren,

    Before getting into a "Quebec = Olive Garden" discussion...let me give you an idea of the travel times among the three cities you mentioned in your question (we live in Burlington in the summer/fall and travel easily to Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City, in fact we're going to QC in a couple of weeks):

    Montreal airport to Burlington: just under 2 hours (from downtown Montreal to Burlington: about 1-1/2 hours). Almost all of the route is superhighway, except for a small bit just before you get to the U.S. border. Try to avoid afternoon rush hours, tho I guess you can't tell your airline when to arrive...

    Burlington to Quebec City: about 4 hours, and, again, almost all of this is U.S. and Canadian superhighway except for that piece of two-lane farm road just north of the Vermont border.

    Quebec City to Montreal: 2 hours, all superhighway.

    So if you fly into Montreal, you can play with this triangle of the three cities. Double-check on the question of renting a car in Montreal and dropping it in Vermont. Even if you can do this now, in the NAFTA world, it's probably going to be more expensive than returning it to the same place.

    Oh, by the way, Burlington to Montpelier = 45 minutes by I-89.

    From New York City, it's about a 5 or 6 hour drive to Burlington. The Amtrak goes from NYC to Essex, just outside Burlington, but it takes 6 hours.

    Now on to the Olive Garden/Italy/Quebec issue:

    French Quebecers, Quebecois, have struggled for half a century to protect their language and culture against what they see as Anglo domination. I'm not taking sides, just saying what they thought. The Brits and the French seem to have an eternal love/hate relationship. Montreal, pre-1960, was clearly controlled by English Canadians economically, and the Quebecois in the entire province lived in a very traditional society--strong Catholic church, patriarchal, rural, very big families, sons go into farming or the priesthood or the law, but not business or engineering or the professions.

    Then, bam, comes what Quebec historians call the Quiet Revolution, la Revolution Tranquille, with the 1960 provincial elections ushering in a modernizing, reformist French Quebec provincial government. Next come several moves toward independence, etc. A lot of bitterness in these years. To give a flavor: one of the pro-independence Quebecers published a book in the 1960s about discrimination by Anglos against Quebecois. The title: "Les Negres de l'Amerique du Nord." Enough said.

    All very fascinating stuff. Lots of French and English Canadian books written about this. You may want to skim some of these before your trip.

    The French language in Quebec province: for reasons linguist experts don't understand, French in Quebec sort of stopped evolving after the initial settlement of New France in the 17th century. Even today there are archaic words and phrases. And there is a special argot or creole or whatever called "joual"--incomprehensible to outsiders even if one understands French.

    But the French spoken in Quebec City is certainly comprehensible. Montreal on the other hand is such a diverse city that hotel and restaurant staff will automatically switch to English as default as soon as they spot you. Very hard to practice your French in Montreal. If you listen to Radio Canada (French language broadcasts), it sounds like the flawlessly enunciated upper-class French of the best Parisians (actually, French folks in France do not consider Parisian French to be the purest--whatever "pure" means--and they tend to praise the French spoken around Tours and the Loire Valley instead).

    So enjoy Quebec, it's its own place, not a wannabe carbon copy of anywhere else.

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    Wow thanks for all the great replies! All good info!! I have definitely decided that the weekend will be spent exploring Montreal (my nephew and his mom will meet me there). I plan to spend two nights on either side of that weekend in Vermont seeing his house and school, etc. (he lives near Stowe).

    So now my final decision is to either a) fly into NYC and spend a night or two at my friends house in Brooklyn then take the scenic Amtrak Adirondack train up to either Montreal to meet my nephew on a friday...Or take the scenic Vermonter train up to meet them in Stowe on a, say, Wednesday. Then spend a couple days there and head up to Montreal with them on Friday. Spend the weekend and then fly home to Tucson on Sunday. Or B) no New York but instead fly into Quebec City on a Wednesday and spend 2 nights there, meet them in Montreal Friday for the weekend and ride back with them to Vermont for a couple days and then fly out of either Burlington or Montreal (take the bus up from Stowe).

    All very complicated! Basically I need to be in Montreal with nephew on weekend, spend a couple days in Stowe with him in either side of weekend. And the "extra" time for me would be 2 days in either QC or NYC. It's a much longer and more $$ flight to get from Tucson to QC than to NYC (which offers a nonstop)...but then there's the scenic train which would be nice in autumn. And I have never been to QC whereas I've been to NY.

    Am I trying to fit in too much? I have perhaps 10/4-10/12.

    Also I have not decided whether or not to rent a car. I am open to it.
    Advice on any of this would be awesome!!!
    Thank you!!!

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    i live in north central VT not far from Stowe and have taken the Vermonter many times between Montpelier and Stamford CT or NYC. It is a long trip although shorter than it used to be. It would eat up a day and is not all that scenic until you get north of Springfield MA. The trip is relaxing to me compared to dealing with airports, and I am always happy to have a long period for reading. If you do take the train, take your own food on board--snack car is very limited.

    QC City and NYC are obviously very different but are both great destinations Since you are less likely to go back to QC and have not been there before I would probably opt for that option if the $ difference is not too great.

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