Quebec City And Montreal: My Visit To French Canada

If I was going to travel all the way to New York state for a conference, I wanted to go somewhere after that that was just for me. Somewhere I hadn’t been before and that I could explore alone.

The natural choice was New York City. However, since I already have a trip booked there for next year, I kept looking.

Next up was going overland to Niagara Falls and Toronto. However, I could only spare a few days and public transport to get to Niagara from my conference is very time consumming.

Once I realised my best bet was to fly out of the Fingers Lakes area, it opened up many options – and I ended up deciding on Quebec.

Why Quebec?

Quebec City

Quebec City

I have always wanted to go to the French part of Canada since first reading about it in the local paper when I was a kid. Quebec City looked so gorgeous and European and it seemed really strange to me that it was French speaking and situated in North America.

I love visiting different places unlike ones I have been previously so Quebec made it to the bucket list.

The problem is that Quebec is just so far from Australia – case in point is that it took me 36 hours to fly back from Montreal on my home!

This seemed like the perfect opportunity, however. It was just two short flights from Fingers Lakes to Quebec City and, if my flights had gone to plan, it would have only been a four hour journey including transit time.

My Itinerary

I could only spare three days so I planned one night in Quebec City and two in Montreal with a train journey between the two. This split up my daylight hours.

Quebec City

Quebec City

It seemed fast but I figured I would see far more with 24 hours in a city than I usually do in four days without the kids! I was right 🙂

This plan was ruined when I had problems flying into Canada (I didn’t realise I needed an Electronic Travel Authorisation from Canada before boarding my plane) and the Canadian Government site to apply for this was down!

So I ended up with just an hour to explore Quebec City before continuing on to Montreal.

This was a huge shame as Quebec City is just stunning (more below), but I’m still glad I got to see something.

I visited in mid September and the weather was perfect. It was in the high twenties (Celcius) and sunny every day.

Exploring Quebec City

Quebec City

Quebec City

Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America and you can tell.

I found it utterly bizarre to think I was in Canada as I wandered around the very French streets. It felt like I was in Europe.

An hour is not long at all, but I did get enough of a taste that I know I need to go back. It’s somewhere I can imagine hanging out in outdoor cafes for days.

It definitely delived on giving me a very different North American experience.

Exploring Montreal

Place Jacques-Cartier,

Place Jacques-Cartier, Montreal. I ate dinner here both nights.

It’s just over three hours on the train between these two cities and it’s very easy. I bought a business class ticket which was superb – lots of drinks and food and big seats. It was a lovely journey.

Montreal surprised me by having a very big city feel. I guess this shouldn’t have surprised me but after charming Quebec City, it felt weird to be back in a big city.

However, the Old Town is still very charming, just in more of a big city way.

Montreal, Old Town

Montreal, Old Town

I was surprised by how French everything is in Montreal as well. I kept reading beforehand how it is a bilingual city, but I would say it is far more French than bilingual, at least where I went. Everyone spoke English fluently, however.

I loved exploring the Old Town, eating in Place Jacques-Cartier, having dessert at the old port area and walking into the neighbouring suburbs.

I spent a lot of time walking and enjoyed Montreal a lot. I especially found the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History very interesting – it helped me not just understand the history of Montreal but of the settlement of North America in general.

Final Words

I highly recommend visiting Quebec, both Quebec City and Montreal. They are quite different and both very French. It’s a very different part of the world and I highly enjoyed my time here.

Now to find a way to get back to Quebec City as only having an hour was definitely a tease!

Have you been to Quebec? What did you think?