My Trip to Montreal and Quebec City

Old Dec 31st, 2015, 11:56 AM
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My Trip to Montreal and Quebec City

Here's something I've been meaning to write for months! I spent a week in Canada in September splitting the time between Montreal and Quebec City. I went with DH who is not the best travel partner. In spite of that I had a great time. Well here goes...

Day 1 Driving to Montreal
Despite many many delays DH and I started driving to Montreal from our home in NJ by midday. We made pretty good time as there wasn't a lot of traffic. Our dinner stop was in Plattsburg NY where we dined at the Butcher Block. This was a restaurant DH found as he loves steak. I had a lobster mac n cheese which had a surprising amount of lobster in it.

When we reached the passport check at the Canadian border DH was surprisingly nervous. The official asked lots of questions. Finally he let us through and hurray we made it to Canada.

Finding Montreal was easy, finding our hotel was trickier as the exit we needed was closed. Fortunately I soon recognized a street name and the hotel was not too far off.

We decided to stay at the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain as we could use our points. Also the hotel is centrally located and the subway is right there.

Day 2 Montreal

We had the included continental breakfast in the concierge level. There was a decent selection, nothing special.

I walked to the Cathedrale Marie Reine du Monde which we can see from our room - it's only a few blocks away. The building is more interesting from the outside as it's a 1/4 scale replica of St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

I scheduled the Old Montreal East walking tour with Guidatour before we left. When available I like to take a walking tour when I arrive in an unformiliar city. As DH is not a great walker just getting to the tour on time was stressful, especially as he ran an errand on the way. Happily we got to the meeting spot with minutes to spare.

The tour was very interesting. Our guide Stamatia was passionate about Montreal. We started at the Notre Dame Basilica where an organist was playing the 7000 pipe organ, pretty impressive. The interior of this gothic building is beautiful as is the adjoining chapel.

We went down St Paul Street, saw Place Jacque Cartier, the city wall, City Hall and Bonsecour Market. I'm sure there were more stops on the tour but this is what I remember.

After the tour we had lunch at Restaurant Papillon on Saint Paul Est. It is a French/Italian Bistro. I had a tomato and red pepper soup followed by a pork loin with apples. I enjoyed my outdoor meal but not the bees.

Down the block is the store Canadian Maple Delights. We had some yummy ice cream and I bought a bottle of maple syrup.

DH went back to the hotel and I walked to the Musee du Chateau Ramesay which is a former Governor's mansion. There are so many fascinating items on display, clothing, weapons, toys old sporting equipment and lots of furniture and paintings. The lower level contains rooms in period fashion, kitchen, bedrooms etc. Each room had people in period costumes who explained various items.

After this I wondered all over and spent a lot of time in the Vieux Port area. It was warmer out than I expected.

I met DH for dinner at Chez Suzette where we both enjoyed the French Onion soup, DH had cheese fondue and I had a very good crepe stuffed with ham, brie and carmelized onion. It was served with maple syrup which is something new to me.

We took a taxi back to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

to be continued
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Old Jan 1st, 2016, 07:18 AM
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Day 3 Montreal

We had breakfast in the main dining area and both ordered the full buffet. There was a large assortment which included eggs benedict. I ended up eating too much.

I walked to the Musee des Belles Artes, DH stayed in the room. The museum had a temporary Rodin exhibit which was wonderful. I never thought I would see "The Thinker" again.
After that I went through all the paintings galleries, very enjoyable.

A few blocks from the museum is the Divine Chocolatier where I bought a few chocolates to bring home for my kids. The assortment was very appealing.

I walked back to the hotel for a short break and to see if DH wanted to go out with me for the afternoon. As it turned out I continued on my own.

I had lunch at Olive & Gourmando which is well known for sandwiches and salads. I had a Cubain which is a panini with pancetta, roasted pork and gruyere. It was delicious. I didn't love having to eat by myself but it was okay as I was seated at a communal table.

Next I went to the Musee d'Archeologie el d'Histoire Point a Calliere. I saw the special exhibit on the Aztecs which was in a separate building across the street. The exhibit was terrific. After that I went back to the main building and saw "Where Montreal was Born" which is in an archeological site in the basement. The guide was so informative which turned out to be the key to enjoying this part of the museum. I also watched a movie called "Yours Truly, Montreal.

Upon leaving the museum I heard bells ringing. It turned out a wedding party was exiting Notre Dame. I love when this happens. It's fun to see the differences in wedding parties to other countries.

I walked back to the hotel to find DH fast asleep. Dinner ended up being room service as he didn't want to go out when he woke up. I had my first taste of poutine which was something I was very much looking foward to. I know this wasn't the most authentic version but it was pretty tasty. If you don't know poutine is french fries with cheese curds and gravy, some versions have a protein on it too. This version had melted cheese instead of cheese curds so I had to wait to get real poutine.

to be continued
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Old Jan 3rd, 2016, 10:01 AM
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Day 4 Montreal/Quebec City

After eating one more continental breakfast in the hotel we went back upstairs to pack as we were driving to Quebec City in the afternoon.

We had the valet bring around our car only to find out that the window on the driver's side was open. This was bad as right before we left for the trip we discovered there was a problem with this window. With no time to fix it we left for Canada. DH forgot to tell the valet not to open the window when we checked into the hotel. Unfortunately no one could close the window. More bad news, it was raining out. We had no choice but to leave with the window open.

Our first stop was Saint Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal. As we were heading for the parking lot DH said he didn't want to go in and leave the window open. He found a parking space and tried the window again. It closed! I jokingly stated that it was divine intervention.

It is a huge impressive complex. The main building itself is very large with a dome. We arrived just in time for the 11 am mass in the Basilica which features a boy's choir. We listened to their beautiful voices for awhile and then took a look at the chapel. We skipped the museum for time reasons. The views from the building were obscured because it was still drizzling ourtside. On our way out I looked at the lovely garden area.

We drove to the St Viateur Bagel. I had read all about bagels in Montreal and was looking forward to trying one. I grew up eating New York so I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I waited on a long line but it moved quickly. Most of the people on line were tourists snapping pictures of the brick oven and the baking process. The bagels were much smaller, sweeter and crispier. I enjoyed eating a sesame bagel with cream cheese.

After this we drove through Little Italy to the nearby Jean Talon Market. Fortunately it stopped raining as the market is outdoors, although many of the booths are covered. I love visiting markets and this one was well worth going to. There was row after row of beautiful produce. Vendors sold meat, seafood, baked goods, cheese, maple products and lots more. I bought some honey, maple butter and a pastry to eat later. DH and I went into Hamels which is a large cheese shop. There were almost too many delicious looking items making it very hard to choose.

We took our purchases to the car and headed out of Montreal. We got on the nearby 40E and drove to Quebec City. The weather didn't really improve, it was still overcast and drizzly. I broke out the cheese we bought and ate some of it with some bread. Boy do we love cheese, these were delicious!

The drive was easy until we got to Quebec City. It was hard to find our hotel. When you get to the old city the streets wind around and it is confusing.

We almost stayed in a Marriott hotel as we have points but ended up in the Hotel Manoir de l'Esplanade. DH's main criteria for hotels is this - is it reasonably priced? and do they have rooms with king sized beds? This hotel fit the bill as it met my main concern - is it centrally located? We had a lot to bring up to the room and the staff was very helpful. I liked our room and yes it had a king sized bed.

We took a cab to dinner at the Creperie - bistro Le Billig. I was surprised DH agreed to go there as this was not the type of place he enjoys but I was very happy to go to a creperie. I had a delicious one stuffed with duck confit, spinach, goat and cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. The crepe was made with buckwheat flour. For dessert I had a chocolate chantilly crepe which was so yummy.

Back at the hotel we watched the US Open tennis finals and called it a night.

to be continued
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Old Jan 4th, 2016, 12:11 PM
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Day 5 Quebec City

We had the free continental in the hotel. It was only okay, nothing I would recommend.

I headed out for the 2 hour walking tour I booked with Tours Voir Quebec. It is called the Grand Tour and you check in at the Tourist Information Center. Our excellent guide Janet led us all over Old Quebec, throughout Upper and Lower Town. I was worried about the weather as rain was predicted but I lucked out. I loved the architecture and learned a lot about Quebec City.

At the end of the tour I took the funicular up from Lower Town. It is reasonable priced at 2.25 CD and the service is efficient. the view is nice too.

I met DH for lunch at Cafe Buade which is a place he picked. I think he liked it as it is like a diner with a big menu. I had a tasty Canadian pea soup and poutine. This is the first time I had cheese curds which as a cheese lover I enjoyed. Also the gravy was pretty good. DH loved it there, I thought it was good but nothing special.

After lunch I went to the nearby Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame du Quebec. The alter was pretty eye catching, the stain glass windows were okay. Fun fact - I did learn on the tour earlier that when stain glass was transported from Europe it was packed in a crate filled with maple syrup to cushion it.

Next I walked down the stairs to Lower Town. There are a lot of stairs so be prepared if you decide to do this. Lower Town has a lot of fun stores to browse in on Rue de Petit Champlain. Unfortunately it started raining but this street is really beautiful.

I took the funicular back up and walked all over Upper Town. I went into the Chateau Frontenac to check it out. This hotel is the most well known building in Old Quebec. It is quite beautiful and faces the St Lawrence River.

At some point in the afternoon I walked back to the hotel to dry off as the rain never stopped. I decided to rest until dinner.

We had dinner at Le Feu Sacre which is a steakhouse near the hotel. I had a very tasty grilled salmon which was served with vegetable and pesto on the side. DH had a steak.

After dinner I walked around a bit to check out the nightlife. Well it was very quiet and almost spooky as the sky was so cloudy.

to be continued
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Old Jan 4th, 2016, 12:53 PM
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Great report jerseysusan! We must take a walking tour next time we go to Montreal. Glad that car window went up. Too bad you had so much rain in Quebec. My ancestors came over with Wolf and fought in the battle on the Plains of Abraham. One's daughter married the other one's son.
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Old Jan 4th, 2016, 06:54 PM
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Looking forward to more, jerseysusan! Sounds like you hit some highlights of my fair city (Montreal) and the neighboring Vieille Capitale (Quebec City)! I'm glad you made it to the Jean Talon Market area, one of my favorite spots in the city! I also saw the exhibit on the Aztecs at the Pointe a Calliere as well as the Rodin over at the Musee des Beaux Arts and I agree that both were excellent!

Anyway, I enjoyed reading your comments about this neck of North America. It seems you got a bit of a sense of why I love living here.

Best wishes, Daniel
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 01:00 PM
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Micheline and Daniel_Williams, I am so glad you are enjoying my report.

Day 6 Quebec City

After our so so included breakfast (I would prefer to eat elsewhere but DH doesn't) DH and I slowly walked to the nearby Citadelle. This is an uphill walk which proved to be too much for DH. By the time he got there he decided not to go on the tour. The Citadelle is an actively fortified base. Because of this you can't visit it without going on a tour. There is an interesting museum you can visit before the tour and smaller museums you visit as part of the tour. Our tour guide Maude was quite enthusiastic and knew a lot about Quebec City and the base which dates back to 1820. There are many cannons of various sizes around the base which was built on the highest point in Quebec City. The views of the St Lawrence River and the city were great. Fortunately the skies were clear.

After the tour I climbed the steps of the nearby city wall, which is right across the street from our hotel. The view was nice from there too.

When you walk through the gate of the city walls you reach the Plains of Abraham which is the site of a famous battle. It is a peacful spot with lovely landscaping. I enjoyed the beautiful flowers. I confess to limited knowledge of Canadian history so the significance of the spot meant less to me than to other visitors.

We then walked a few more blocks to the Hotel du Parlement. Anything involving politics is of great interest to DH so he was looking forward to this visit. We went on a very informative tour. The staff was very kind to DH as they saw his cane and let him take the elevator to the upper level. The rest of us walked up 4 staircases to view the blue debate/voting room and the red research/reporting room. I learned a lot about Canada's elections and parliament system. Also the building itself is beautiful inside and out.

We took another short walk(although DH didn't think it was short) so we could eat lunch at Chez Ashton. This is a fast food chain which is famous for poutine. The cheese curds here had the squeak I read about. I really enjoyed these fries but I must confess that I wouldn't want more fries for quite awhile as I normally don't eat them very often.

After lunch we walked back to the hotel where I dropped DH off. I decided to walk to Lower Town in search of the Marche du Vieux Port as I love market places. After a few wrong turns I finally found it. Although it is much smaller than the Jean Talon market in Montreal I still enjoyed my visit. I bought a jar of jelly.

I watched the boats in the nearby port. I needed a break by this point and this was a pleasant way to pass some time.

Next I went to the nearby Musee de La Civilisation. There was an exhibit I wanted to see called Egyptian Magic. This was really a treat as I love looking at all things Egyptian.

After walking around Lower Town for a bit I had dinner at Le Lapin Saute which was a meal I was looking forward to. The restaurant is such a pretty place and I loved my meal. I had an appetizer of rabbit rillettes which was delicious. For a main course I had a rabbit leg and duck sausage cassoulet which was excellent. For dessert I had sugar pie with berries, also delicious. I was so stuffed by then!

I took the funicular back up and walked back to the hotel.

to be continued
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 02:08 PM
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After I eat poutine I always feel I never want to see a fry again. But I still order it about twice a year.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 12:19 PM
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Micheline, I would be happy to eat pouting a few times a year, even though I don't eat fries very often. I need to see where I can buy cheese curds.

Day 7 Quebec City

This, our last full day in Quebec City was spent on a "road trip". Ater our sub par breakfast DH and I headed for our car. Because we have a handicapped parking sticker our car was parked very close to the hotel. This was the first time we moved it.

The plan was to go to Montmorency Falls first but we missed the exit on 138. Instead of backtracking we continued on the road and went to the Basilique Ste Anne de Beaupre. This shrine is very beautiful inside and out. The exterior has two spires and many statues. The basilique has an impressive rose window and lots of stained glass. I was glad we made the effort to see it.

We next drove to the I'le D'Orleans which is reached by crossing the St Lawrence River on the "bridge with no name".
This island is very rural with lots of small villages and farms. The plan was to have lunch at Panache Mobile on the vineyard Vignoble De Ste Petronille. Even though I had directions, the vineyard was a little tricky to find. This restaurant is a permanently placed food truck which is attached to the wine tasting room. It must be popular as we had to wait for a table on a Wednesday. DH and I shared a tasty cheese and fruit platter. I had a delicious lobster roll which was topped with an avocado sauce. This was a beautiful setting to have a meal.

For dessert we drove over to the nearby Chocolaterir de I'le d'Orleans. Although the candy on display was so tempting, we had ice cream instead. I choose maple nut which is a flavor I wish we had at home.

We drove off the island and went to Montmorency Falls. It seemed funny to me that the falls can be seen from the main road, which was lucky for DH as was tired by then and decided to stay in the car. If you want you can walk up to the top of the falls but I took the cable car up. As it is you have to walk on a long path to reach the observation points and suspension bridge. The views are fabulous and it was fun to walk across the bridge. I could see all the stairs you had the choise of walking up and was so glad I didn't. Additionally it was a beautiful warm day. It made me laugh to realize I could see our car in the parking car and took a picture to show DH. I took the cable car back down and visited DH to see if he wanted to get out of the car. As he didn't I walked over to the observation point on "ground level" This was actually a long walk and the sun was quite strong. This made the spray from the falls feel good. I walked back to the car and we drove back to the hotel.

When we reached our hotel the handicapped space was no longer available. The man at the front desk advised us to park the car in front of the hotel as one can do so for 2 hours. In less than an hour we got a call from the front desk that the handicapped space was now free. I thought that was so nice that they made that effort for us.

We had dinner at La Buche which is a Canadian/Quebecois style restaurant which is a few blocks away from the hotel. I had a tourtierre which is a meat pie. This was another enjoyable meal and the end of a great day.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 11:34 AM
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jerseysusan-- Sounds like you had a great trip! I've been to Quebec City about a half dozen times as I had a close friend who lived there and you did quite a few things that I have never done (including Montmorency Falls!). I'd recommend reading a bit about the Plains of Abraham at some point, as that battle was a pivotal moment in not only Canadian, but also North American history in general.

Poutine is an occasional guilty pleasure. Poutine-specializing places seem to be sprouting up all over Montreal these days, with some more *ahem* gourmet varieties LOL.

Thanks again for the report! Daniel
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 11:43 AM
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Hi Daniel_Williams,I did come home wanting to bone up on history. I guess I should have before I left. I certainly enjoyed the poutine I tried but I agree it should only be eaten occationally.

Day 8 Quebec City/home

We packed up after breakfast as we were driving back home to New Jersey after lunch.

I decided to spend my last morning walking around Old Quebec. It was really a beautiful morning so I spent a long time sitting by the St Lawrence River on the Dufferin Terrace. This is a walkway which is by the Chateau Frontenac. I watched the boats go by, a pleasant way to spend some time.

I had lunch at Aux Ancien Canadiens which is a very well known Quebecois restaurant. This is a place I knew I wanted to go to but wasn't sure I wanted to splurge on. I walked past it so many times in the last few days and noticed they had a lunch special. Well that convinced me, I deserved to eat there.

Aux Ancien Canadiens is in the oldest building in Quebec City, dating back to 1675. It's really quite charming. I had a wonderful meal. My appetizer was caribou/bison rillettes, so creamy and delicious. I had a Lac St Jean tourtierre for my main dish. I don't remember everything in it buy it included elk, beef, pork and venison - excellent. For dessert I had some yummy maple creme brulee. This was a great final meal in Quebec City.

So this was the end of my vacation. After lunch I went back to the hotel and we started driving home.

Final Impressions

I expected to love Quebec City and I did. It was great to visit a city with "European charm". I love to wander around places with great architecture and cobblestone streets. Also the food was wonderful.

I wasn't sure about Montreal before we left. I knew I wanted to go there when I planned the trip but then so many posters on this board had negative things to say about it. I became concerned about my decision. However I am very glad I went to Montreal. I enjoyed diversity of the neighborhoods and had a great time.

It's not easy to travel with someone who has a different "style" than yourself. DH likes to rest on vacation. I want to see as much as possible, walk as much as possible and try lots of food. We made it work.

I learned on this vacation that I can navigate on my own. I usually travel with DS who is an excellent navigator. I planned ahead and had maps, it worked out fine.

I also spent a lot of time on my own. I can't say that I prefer this but it also worked out. Certainly you can go at your own pace this way. I ate many meals by myself. I wasn't looking forward to doing this but it wasn't the end of the world. Better to eat the meals alone than to not eat in the restaurants you planned on.

I certainly loved my time in Montreal and Quebec City and hope I inspire others to visit there.
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Old Jan 9th, 2016, 09:57 AM
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Aux Anciens Canadiens has a wonderful lunch deal. It used to be ridiculously cheap. We once made reservations for dinner but when we arrived in Quebec City we were hungry and went there for lunch instead. We were so glad we did. I felt like I was a child again eating at my French grandmother's. Do you remember what it cost?
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:10 AM
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Micheline, I can't find my receipt for my lunch in Aux Anciens Canadiens, it seems I paid in cash. However I did take a picture of the lunch board outside of the restaurant. The 3 course deal started at $19.95, rising depending on your choice for the main dish. This included a glass of wine. I felt it was an excellent value.
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Old Jan 11th, 2016, 04:03 AM
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Thanks jerseysusan. It was about $15.00 five years ago so it's still an excellent deal
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 09:06 AM
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Thanks Susan. We are currently planning to visit Montreal this year so your report is very useful.

Visited Quebec a few years ago. We ate twice at Aux Anciens Canadiens--what wonderful meals.

Poutine was on the opposite end of the spectrum: I don't care if I never have it again.
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 10:45 AM
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jerseysusan, Thank you so much for your posting! I've always wanted to travel to this corner of the world and your report gave me some ideas for the future!

So glad you enjoyed it!
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Old Apr 12th, 2016, 03:54 AM
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Hi lynni, nice to hear you enjoyed my report.
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Old Apr 24th, 2016, 05:54 PM
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Loved reading about your trip to the 2 cities my husband and I plan to visit in August. Do you think a week total was enough or would you have wanted to stay longer? We will not have a car and will take the train between the cities. Have not checked to see if we want to fly into Montreal or Quebec yet from San Francisco and then fly on to NYC.
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Old Apr 25th, 2016, 04:53 AM
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gailscout, I felt that I had enough time in the 2 cities. I guess it depends on how much you like to see in a day. I tend to do a lot each day.
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Old Apr 25th, 2016, 07:13 AM
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Thanks, jerseysusan. We do a lot as well so I'll get planning.
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