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pls help w/ last minute Montreal & Quebec City trip - 3 side trip options?

pls help w/ last minute Montreal & Quebec City trip - 3 side trip options?

Old Aug 25th, 2009, 09:49 PM
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pls help w/ last minute Montreal & Quebec City trip - 3 side trip options?

Hi all, my trusted Fordorites, I need your help. My Dad just caught a break from work and had flown in from oversea in the very last minute, now I have the "fun" of planning a trip in only days. Yikes! Although my parents would love to visit the Maritimes, but I think that's too big of a project, so I settled on the province of Quebec.

Background: My parents are in their late 50's, relatively healthy. My brother and I are in my late 20's. We have all been to the cities before except my brother. We enjoy food, nature, light hikes and seeing the water. We are not too keen on shopping or the arts. Also due to language barriers, my parents aren't that interested in museums, history or religion. I must say, we are very "slow" travelers, we like to take our time at things and definitely not early raisers!

We will be driving from Toronto. I think we'll stay 2 nights in Quebec City, 2 nights in Montreal, and I'm still debating where else we should stay for an additional night.

Please help me choose and advise the good and bad of each option. Also, these are done best as overnight trips or day trips? THANK YOU!!!

Option 1: Mont Tremblant
We'll probably not spend too much time in the touristy village/resort area except maybe to grab something to eat.

My desire is to visit the "Parc du National Mont Tremblant" for some light hiking. Are there lots of easy hiking trails (less than 2 hours round trip) with exceptional views? What other activities are there that we can do together as a family?

Option 2: Baie St Paul
We definitely won't visit any art galleries. I'm more interested in the "Parc du National des Grands-Jardins". But I don't see a lot of mention of this park in travel books or even on this board. Is it not nice? I understand that this park is more of mountains and artic tundra. I know my parents love the water (ie. lakes, ocean, rivers) much more than seeing rough terrains, would this not suit their taste then?

I know there is a famous "Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes Trail", but it's over 8km with the highest altitude at 980m. Has anyone done this?

The other thing that attracts me to this provincial park is the possibility of fishing. My dad used to fish when he was young, but we don't have any equipment, and there doesn't seem to be any tour operators that does half day fishing trips. Any ideas?

Option 3: Ottawa
Of course, this is the capital, but since my parents doesn't understand English too well or know much of Canadian history or politics, will this be very boring for them? Also, will this feel like another large, metropolitan city like Montreal and Quebec City? So we won't get a chance to feel the ourtdoors?

Sorry for such a long post. I am actually very nervous about this trip because of the extremely short notice. Please feel free to add any inputs or advices. Anything and everything will be appreciated! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!
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Old Aug 26th, 2009, 08:02 AM
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I strongly recommend your Option 2 above. The Charlevoix area is an excellent place for food & sights. If I were you, I would go to the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière Malbaie Park instead of Grand Jardins. Grands Jardins is indeed mostly for fishing, but you have to bring your own gear... Hautes-Gorges is well organized for all kinds of activities and the views are spectacular. The drive on route 362 between Baie St-Paul and La Malbaie is beautiful.
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Old Aug 26th, 2009, 11:56 AM
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Thanks for your suggestion to the "Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière Malbaie Park". It looks beautiful in the pictures! But it is about 2.5 hrs from Quebec City just to reach its nearest city, Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs (on 138 b/w QC and Baie St Paul, then switching to the more scenic route 362 from Baie St Paul to La Malbaie). And then from Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs, it is another 30 mins to reach the park entrance.

If we do go there, is the follow itinerary too much driving for out trip?

Day 1: drive from Toronto to Quebec City (800km, 8.5hrs non stop). Night in QC.

Day 2: morning to Canyon Ste Anne, spent afternoon in QC. Night in QC.

Day 3: drive to Baie St Paul (95km, 1hr), have lunch there. Then drive to La Malbaie (50km, 1hr via Route 362), and proceed to Hautes Gorges park (50km, 1hr via hilly back roads).

Will we still have time to canoe or kayak? Probably we'll only have time for a short hike. Then drive back to Baie St Paul (2hrs) to sleep.

Day 4: Drive from Baie St Paul (350km, 4hrs) to Montreal. Night in Montreal.

Day 5: Spend day in Montreal. Night in Montreal.

Day 6: Drive from Montreal back to Toronto (550km, 6hrs)


Please note, we are NOT expert drivers and most likely my brother will be the only one who's doing the driving. I am not a road trip person in heart, I've always prefer to do rail or fly. Am I just being too anxious? Or is this totally doable? Many THANKS again! Much appreciate!
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Old Aug 27th, 2009, 09:18 AM
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You have over estimated the time required to go from Baie-St-Paul to Hautes-Gorges.

Here's what's more realistic:
Baie-St-Paul - La Malbaie: 40 minutes
La Malbaie - Hautes Gorges: 40 minutes
Hautes Gorges - direct to Baie-St-Paul via 138: 1 hour and change. The road between 138 and Hautes-Gorges is brand new and fast.

It is doable. If you leave Quebec City early enough, you could have lunch in La Malbaie. Save BSP for dinner.
One good and quick service restaurant in La Malbaie is "Café Chez Nous". (http://www.cafecheznous.com/). That will let you have at least 3 hours in Hautes-Gorges, enough for canoe, hike or cruise on the river.

BTW, going to Canyon Ste-Anne is a very good idea. Very nice.
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Old Aug 27th, 2009, 08:35 PM
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Why not spend the morning of Day 2 in Quebec City and the afternoon at Canyon Sainte-Anne, and then go on to Baie Saint-Paul or even La Malbaie to spend the night?

That way you avoid backtracking and have more time to spend at Hautes Gorges the next day. Surely there is a store in Baie Saint-Paul or La Malbaie where you can get food for a pincic lunch. That would give you several extra hours!
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