Free and Cheap Montréal and Québec City
There might be no such thing as a free lunch in Montréal or Québec City, but plenty of other things are free, or nearly so.
Admission to the permanent collections of Montréal’s Musée des Beaux-Arts (www.mbam.qc.ca) and Québec City’s Musée National des Beaux-Artswww.mnbaq.org) is always free. The Musée d’Art Contemporain (www.macm.org) is half price on Wednesday nights. Every summer the city of Montréal mounts an outdoor exhibit of art or photographs on the sidewalks of avenue McGill College between rues Ste-Catherine and Sherbrooke.
Montréal’s Christ Church Cathedral (635 rue Ste-Catherine Ouest514/843–6577), a magnificent neo-Gothic treasure, and Oratoire St-Joseph (3800 Chemin Queen-Mary, 514/733–8211) offer free organ recitals on Sunday afternoons at 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm throughout the year. And Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, one of the finest boys’ choirs in North America, sings the 11 am mass at the Oratoire every Sunday from March to December 24. They also perform several free concerts through the year.
Montréal’s Festival Internationale de Jazz every June and Québec City’s Festival d’Été in July have dozens of free, open-air concerts. These huge happenings bring thousands, and tens of thousands, of revelers to the streets.
From mid-June through July, the sky comes alive with light and color on most Wednesday and Saturday evenings when fireworks teams from around the world compete in the spectacular L’International des Feux Loto-Québec. You can pay for a seat at La Ronde amusement park, or join thousands of Montrealers in the Old Port, on the Jacques Cartier Bridge, and in Parc Champlain on the South Shore and watch for free.
Political junkies can join free guided tours of North America’s only French-speaking legislature, the Assemblée Nationale du Québec (418/643–7239). The parliamentary debates are on Tuesday to Thursday from August to November and February to May.
McGill University’s Redpath Museum (859 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, 514/398–4086) houses an eclectic collection of dinosaur skeletons, seashells, fossils, minerals, Egyptian mummies, and Stone Age tools in a beautiful 19th-century building. Watch for free lectures.
For one of the best views of Québec City, take the C$3.35 ferry (10 rue des Traversiers , 418/643–8420) for a minicruise across the St. Lawrence River to Lévis and back. Or for C$2.25, ride the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec (16 rue Petit-Champlain, 418/692–1132), the sharply vertical railway that creaks along the cliff from Lower Town to Upper Town.