Given my home base in Toronto, Ontario, one of the natural travel destinations is our neighbouring province of Quebec. I have had several opportunities to explore “La Belle Province”, from skiing in the Eastern Townships, on Mont Tremblant and Mount St. Anne to official travel writing projects in Montreal, and a recent bus trip to Montreal and Quebec City with some European visitors. Every trip showed me new and unique facets of this great region.
So it was great to receive an invitation from Quebec Tourism for a luncheon in Toronto last week that was held in Toronto’s hip Distillery District. Tourism experts and travel writers got together to exchange the latest news and interesting travel ideas for exploring Quebec. Almost 20 Quebec organizations were represented to educate us about new travel opportunities in their province. I had a chance to talk to all the experts, grab some brochures and put together this article to share these Quebec travel ideas with you.
In alphabetical order you will find a listing and brief description of the various regional tourism organizations and hospitality providers that participated in this informative luncheon. Feel free to use some of this information for planning your next trip to Quebec.
Le Bateau-Mouche is a river cruise company that offers a variety of scheduled lunch and dinner cruises on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. It also hosts private gala evenings, company anniversaries, retreats, team lunches and other corporate and group events. The Salle Panoramique holds 140 passengers at water level while the Salon Prestige provides an air conditioned upper deck and terrace for 50 passengers. The sophisticated menus are a creation of renowned chefs Louis-François Marcotte and Charles-Emmanuel Pariseau.
This family-owned company has been in business since 1972 and offers cruises all through Quebec. Destinations include Montreal, Quebec City, Levis, Tadoussac, Baie-Ste-Catherine, L’Anse-St-Jean and Rivière-du-Loup. The cruise line-up in the big cities includes a variety of different outings, such as maritime excursions; brunch, dinner or evening cruises; fireworks cruises and special events. Whale-watching is offered in Tadoussac / Baie-Ste-Catherine as well as in Rivière-du-Loup while nature at its finest can be experienced in a cruise of the Fjord du Saguenay.
The Eastern Townships are located south of the Saint Lawrence River and north of the United States border and anchored by the main cities of Sherbrooke, Granby, Magog and Cowansville. Tourists are also attracted to the quaint villages of Knowlton, Magog and North Hatley. Over the years the Eastern Townships have developed into popular four-season destinations with ski resorts such as Ski Bromont, Mount Orford, Mount Sutton and Owl’s Head, some of which convert their operations into mountain biking centres in the summer. The region also features wineries, fabulous cycling and hiking opportunities, canoeing, horseback-riding, golf and many health centres and spas. La Route des Vins covers 127 vineyards on 132 km of panoramic routes along 7 picturesque villages. Antiques, galleries, and various culinary attractions such as sugar shacks, chocolatie nrs, pastry shops, bakers and restaurants of various types provide great opportunities for gourmets and art lovers.
Hotel St. Sulpice, Montreal
This luxury boutique hotel in Old Montreal is located adjacent to Notre-Dame Basilica and minutes away from the city’s Old Port. Its 108 spacious suites range from 550 to 1500 square feet and many of them boast a balcony or a fireplace. Some of the huge terrace suites overlook the sunny courtyard. The Restaurant Bagatelle Terrasse offers exquisite lunch and dinner menus and has been called “Montreal’s most beautiful terrace-garden”.
Hovey Manor – North Hatley
Hovey Manor, or Manoir Hovey in French, is a luxurious 5-star lakeside inn in North Hatley in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It is a proud member of the Relais & Chateaux, the world’s most prestigious hotel group. Located right on Lake Massawippi, this Manor was originally a private estate modelled after George Washington’s Mount Vernon. A prestigious resort inn for over 60 years, this property has won numerous awards and distinctions, including the Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List in 2007. The 39 guest room mansion is surrounded by 25 acres of woods and English gardens and offers a sandy beach to its patrons. Hovey Manor is a year-round destination for international travellers who appreciate privacy, serenity and personal attention. Executive Chef Roloand Menoir delights his guests with his innovative Quebec cuisine and a wine list with more than 1000 labels and extensive menu of artisanal cheeses. With its the old Carriage House is a favourite spot for pre-dinner gathering and the view over Lake Massawippi provides a perfect backdrop for a peaceful country getaway.
Just For Laughs Festival
This hugely popular comedy festival in Montreal has been attracting large crowds since its beginnings in 1983. It includes English and French-speaking comedians as well as international and non-verbal acts such as pantomimes and acrobats. Street performers can be seen throughout the festival in the beautiful and newly modified “Quartier des Spectacles”. It is accompanied by the Just for Laughs film festival that awards prizes to short and feature films. The 2011 inaugural Videotron Just For Laughs Gala will be hosted by star comedian Russell Peters. Craig Ferguson’s International House of Comedy (** Pancakes Not Included) features the popular host of CBS’s The Late Late Show. Modern Love: The Relationship Show is hosted by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet and dissects love in every imaginable way. Another feature event is The Decline of the American Emprire?! which is hosted by The Daily Show’s John Oliver and will enchant those who love politics. Don’t miss this year’s festival, from July 11th through the 31st.
Montreal Festimania is a brand-new organization intended to position Montreal as a tourism and business destination par excellence in North America in the long term. This four-week event brings together the worlds of fashion, comedy, music and entertainment. From mid-July to mid-August the first edition of Montreal Festimania will boast 11 festivals of different kinds that will establish Montreal as a global festival hub. These fantastic events include the Just for Laughs Festival (comedy), L’International des Feux Loto-Québec (fireworks), the Nuits d’Afrique International Festival (music) , Zoofest (music, theatre, circus, humour, cabaret, storytelling), the Fantasia International Film Festival (film ), the Montreal Completement Cirque (circus arts), Divers/Cité (gay pride), the Osheaga Arts and Music festival (music), the MEG Montreal Festival (emerging and urban music), the Montreal First Peoples Festival (native culture) and the Montreal Fashion & Design Festival.
The Outaouais Region is located in Western Quebec north of the Ottawa River. Its main areas include the Gatineau Region, the Pontiac Region and the town of Maniwaki. This region combines various cultural and heritage attractions with a wide range of nature and outdoor activities during summer and winter. The popular Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train is a throwback to the era of steam-powered railways while the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival attracts pilots from around the world. The region’s proximity to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, provides great cultural and entertainment opportunities. The Museum of Civilization, located in Gatineau, is Canada’s most visited museum. You can also experience a boat cruise on the Ottawa River or savour upscale cuisine at the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau. The Theatre du Casino du Lac Leamy will be featuring the Beatle’s Story to take you back to the glory days of the Fab Four. The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, a five star resort, features the largest hotel indoor pool in all of Canada. Active travellers will appreciate that there are over 220 kilometres of urban bike paths in the Outaouis Region. And Morrison’s Quarry offers the highest bungee jump in all of North America!
Quebec City Tourism
With its French-inspired historic architecture, Quebec City is city is a unique destination in North America, and Old Quebec is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Food lovers will enjoy Quebec City’s lively restaurant scene, and many travellers enjoy taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the atmospheric streets of North America’s only walled city. While the famous Chateau Frontenac towers over the city, other perennial favourites such as the Dufferin Terrace, the Old Port, Place Royale and the Quartier Petit-Champlain also enchant countless travellers. The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec presents Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes while the Observatoire de la Capitale has been revamped with interactive touch screen terminals and sound booths, 3D imagery to give you new insights on Quebec City’s interesting history. Le Capitole de Québec features The Man in Black – a Tribute to Johnny Cash and Dance into the Light, a tribute to Phil Collins. A unique culinary experience awaits you at Panache Mobile at Vignoble de Sainte-Pétronille: a gourmet trailer set in the middle of a vineyard. In recent years Quebec City has also developed into a popular cruise destination: major cruise lines such as Holland America Line, Prince Cruises and MSC Cruises now feature Quebec City in their Canada / New England cruise lineup.
Check out Part 2 of this article for additional travel ideas in the province of Quebec.
Visit our website for travel advice, interviews and first-person travel adventures.
Check out our photo collection from our 2008 trip to Quebec City.
Have a peak about our article series about our 2006 trip to Montreal.
Check out our travel tips for Quebec City.
Here are our travel tips for Montreal.
This article talks about Canadian train travel with Via Rail.