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Quebec City/Montreal for Christmas

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Hello Fellow Fodors - My wife and I are looking to travel from Chicago to Quebec City and possibly Montreal as well for Christmas (Please let us know if there are any better combination cities with Quebec City).

Dates we are looking at are Friday, December 22nd, flying back Friday, December 29th/30th? During our trips, we always do tons of walking (Paris, Italy and Vancouver). We usually don't do tours unless they're really worth it. We love the food scene and for this trip we're looking for tons of European-style Christmas scenery/neighborhoods, history, outdoor and indoor fun. Not big museum buffs unless they are must see.... just the best of Quebec and possibly Montreal or any other recommended cities. Even thought NYC.

I have the following questions below:
- Where do we stay in Quebec City to get the best out of our trip and any other recommended cities?
- How many days should we stay in Quebec City? 4-5? (Want to be in Quebec City for Christmas as it looks glorious with all the lights and decorations).
- What other city do you recommend to pair up with Quebec City?
- What transportation do you recommend if any while in Quebec City and other paired city (Montreal possibly most logical)?
- Do you recommend staying at a hotel or AirBnB? I've heard that hotels are decorated beautifully for Christmas.
Transportation Recommendations?
- I'm assuming there are a lot of places closed on Christmas. Any recommendations of what to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?
- What are must-do's and can't miss sites/activities?

Looking forward to all your recommendations/opinions.


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    There will be church services, especially around midnight Christmas Eve, in both cities' historic Catholic churches. Expect many businesses to shut down around noon on Dec. 24. It will be a treasure hunt to find restaurants on Christmas eve and day. Some hotels will no doubt maintain services. covers a wide range of restaurants, sorted by location, style of cuisine, etc. and including bring-your-own-wine places (in French, AVV.) is the equivalent. Flying to Quebec City will require at least one change of plane but it is a very scenic place any time of year. Unfortunately public transit to downtown from the Lesage airport is very skimpy and probably requires a taxi. Note that Porter airlines flies from Chicago Midway to both Montreal and Quebec City through Toronto's downtown airport, using comfortable prop-driven aircraft.

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    When you say you're seeking European-style Christmas scenery, what exactly are you seeking? Montreal and Quebec City are historic in the same way that Boston and New York are historic, but they're still very much North American cities. There will be old churches and cobble stone roads of course in the old parts of the cities, but do realize this isn't Europe, the culture is North America, so what you'd expect to find on Christmas in Chicago is culturally similar to what you'd expect to find in Quebec City and Montreal - closed shops on Christmas Eve/Day, but everything's back to normal on Boxing Day. Do note that Boxing Day (Dec 26) is the Canadian Black Friday, so all the shops will be having their clearance sales.

    I haven't spent time in Quebec City at Christmas, but I've spent 3 Christmasses in Montreal. Although the old part of Montreal is the most historic, it's also the most quiet at Christmas time. I found the other neighbourhoods, like the Plateau, Mile End, etc. much more vibrant at Christmas. Everyone is hanging out in the cafes, the patisseries, the lounges, the bars, the live music venues, the art galleries, the shops, etc. They're all hibernating away keeping cozy.

    Montreal is a city like New York City's a city, so if you love restaurants, the arts, and exploring different neighbourhoods, or if you fancy yourself a foodie, if you like exploring wine bars, ethnic cuisine, etc. put the emphasis on Montreal. If you're just looking for a small city where you're content to stroll around the same small area day after day, Quebec City will suit you well. Typically I'd say you'd need more time for Montreal than Quebec City.

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    Quebec City is magical any time of year! The pubs, restaurants, wine bars, hotels etc are wonderful. The food is superb as well as service.

    I don't know what your budget is but currently the exchange rate is favorable for we Americans. The grand dame of hotels is the Chateau Frontenac and it is majestic. I would think for sure they would offer holiday dinner. A highly rated and member of the venerable Relais and Chateaux group of lodgings is Auberge St. Antoine.

    A hotel that is less expensive but quite nice is Hotel 71.
    There are numerous places that have cozy, comfortable pubs such as Oncle Antoine's.

    Montreal is also loads of fun. A lovely resort just north of the city is Mont Tremblant, a ski village with tons of choices for hotels right on the mountain. Just down the road is the fabulous Spa Scandinave offering hot tub/plunge pools on the banks of a rushing river. Magical!

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