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QUEBEC

MONTREAL

You may have heard that the French Canadians don't care much for English speaking Canadians and that they especially dislike American English speakers.  However if that's the case, we have never seen it!

Even more so than in Toronto, Montreal has an expansive underground shopping area.  In the winter you can leave your hotel room in shirtsleeves (depending on where you're staying, of course) and wander around for hours shopping and dining at fine restaurants, all underground.

Montreal has a good mass transit system although in our opinion, not quite as good as the one found in rival Toronto.  One think you'll notice is that the Montreal subway runs on rubber tires rather than on rails. It's a unique feeling.  The subway in Paris operates in the same fashion.

Montreal offers a fine assortment of hotels.  We've concentrated our stays at the massive old Queen Elizabeth (a sister hotel to the Royal York in Toronto) and the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain.

If you happen to be in Montreal in November and the Gray Cup is in town, be prepared for some wild crowds.  The Gray Cup is Canada's  CFL version of the NFL Super Bowl.  One time while staying at the Queen Elizabeth we could hardly sleep on the night before the Gray Cup thanks to a bunch of loud, liquored up fans running up and down the hallways.

On our first visit we took an organized tour of the city and it was fairly interesting.  However this is a nice town to just get out and walk around -- if it's not snowing too hard!

One thing we'd highly suggest is a visit to the incredibly beautiful Notre Dame Basilica.  You can see from this shot just how beautiful it is inside.

Mont Royal offers skiing in winter and great views year round -- when it's not snowing too hard!

Gamblers will want to visit Casino de Montreal.  The design is rather odd.  From the outside it looks more like a football stadium.  Personally we didn't much care for all the levels in the place.

Other areas of the city to explore include the Quartier Latin, Vieux-Montreal (old Montreal), universities, parks and of course that great underground shopping.

I wish I had reviewed some of the restaurants we have enjoyed in Montreal but at the time, we weren't doing restaurant reviews on this site.

One restaurant we can recommend is Milo's.  It's a Greek restaurant specializing in fresh fish and seafood.  Read our review of Milo's here.

QUEBEC CITY

During one visit to our neighbor to the north we chose to visit Quebec City in the winter and it was beautiful.  They love snow in Quebec City and boast that they are the snow capitol of North America!

Sure enough, the city lived up to its reputation while we were there with plenty of snow coming down.  It made for a little slipping and sliding coming and going from restaurants and so forth but wasn't all that bad.

Like Montreal, this is a French speaking city and like Montreal, we didn't get any of "those" looks from local Quebecers.  Everybody was very accommodating!

Our favorite part of the city is the old walled city.  When you're there you'd swear that you were somewhere on the continent in Europe. 

While visiting Quebec City you must see the famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel.  It sits on a hill towering above the lower portion of the old city and offers great views of the St. Lawrence River.  If nothing else, drop by for a cocktail or a cup of coffee.  In the winter time it feels good to get a table near a fire place.  We headquartered at a Radisson Hotel.  It was nice and is situated just outside the walls opposite the Parliament Buildings.  I no longer see a web site for it so it has apparently changed hands.

We were there during their annual Winter Carnival and there were all kinds of events going on for kids and adults.

Our favorite thing about this city is just taking the funicular down to the oldest part of town and shopping and grabbing a beer.  While there you should invest in a bottle of real maple syrup, some of the best we've ever tasted.  And they sell little hard candies that are made of maple syrup and they're very tasty.

There are a number of old buildings and churches to explore in Quebec City along with museums, of course.  But we're not museum people!  In the summer tours of the St. Lawrence River are offered and I'm told that not too far upriver beluga whales can be seen. 

For skiers, there are numerous opportunities not far from Quebec City.

As with Montreal, during our visit to Quebec City  we were not in the restaurant review mode but we did review one place that specialized in mussels - Moulinere.  It was a great little place with a very pleasant staff inside.  Read our review of the restaurant here.

One crowd favorite in Quebec City and in Montreal is something called poutine.  It's just French fries, gravy and cheese curds.  It's okay but to me, nothing special.


 

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