Montréal: Suggestions for Excursions
Marc Bourdeau, Montréal Chapter of the ASA
Do you plan a more in-depth visit of the Province of Québec? Les Laurentides (the Laurentians), a chain of mountains northwest of Montréal, offers numerous resorts and lakes for all tastes.
On the southeast side, you will find—at less than a two-hour drive—the beautiful Lake Champlain, mostly located in the United States (Vermont and New York), with a surface of more than 490 miles2. It offers many mountain sites (e.g., Green Mountains in Vermont, Adirondack Mountains in New York), lake islands, ample space for swimming and boating, and beautiful views.
Actually, Montréal is located at more or less a five-hour ride from Boston and a seven-hour ride from New York City. But let us not forget that one can find in the Province of Québec more than ample opportunities for culture, nature and recreation, and rest. In every region, you can find fine food and comfortable lodgings.
Québec City, a medium-sized historical city and the capital of Québec, is a leisurely three-hour ride from Montréal down the Saint-Lawrence River. It has kept its old fortification walls (a unique feature on our continent), and you can see from its heights in the heart of the old city one of the more beautiful vistas in the world, according to Charles Dickens.
Dominating Québec City is the Château Frontenac, a historical luxury hotel that is part of the Canadian Pacific Railway chain of hotels dispersed in the Canadian territory. The Terrasse Dufferin, on its side, provides a long boardwalk with a view of the river. From there, you can walk to the old city (or take a funiculaire). Needless to say, Québec City is especially nice for tourists during the summer. You will find nice bike lanes on both sides of the river and a bicycle shop in a little market near the Gare du Palais (bus and train station) to rent bicycles (“Québec Vélo,” +1-418-692.25.17).
Further down the river’s left bank, you will come along magnificent vistas of the river and charming islands and cultural towns such as Baie-Saint-Paul, right in the center of beautiful Charlevoix regional county.
Don’t be afraid to take a ride orthogonal (!) to the river—on the wild side, so to speak—because the population is by and large located along the river. There are interesting and comfortable B&Bs along the lakes and brooks. By the way, is there a more interesting way of traveling than hopping from B&B to B&B while meeting fellow travelers and local residents?
There also are large resorts in the Charlevoix region. For instance, Le Manoir Richelieu, in La Malbaie, is a renowned hotel with a casino. But some of the best Québec inns with fine dining rooms can be found all along the riverbank. The Charlevoix region is surely a favorite for vacations in the Province of Québec.
If you have more time, say a week, you could cross the Saint-Lawrence River from its left bank at Saint-Siméon to the right bank at Rivière-du-Loup and continue traveling down the Saint-Lawrence River, right around the Gaspé peninsula, with a long stopover in the village of Percé.
For those who like to fish and canoe, you can find many pourvoiries (outfitters)—wide and wild areas—with marvelous clubhouses reserved for rod and gun adventurers. They provide all the necessary equipment, with dining rooms and chefs who are the pride of our countryside.
Now that we have described a few excursions on the north, east, and south of Montréal, we must not forget the west. On the Rivière des Outaouais (i.e., Ottawa River), one can find Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. Some of the best museums in the country are here, and it’s only a two-hour bus or car ride from Montréal. Worth a visit: the Musée des beaux arts du Canada/The National Gallery of Canada. Every summer, one can find a special exhibit in this beautiful building with a spectacular view of the Federal Parliament’s library. Also, across the Ottawa River is le Musée Canadien des Civilisations (i.e., Canadian Museum of Civilization), the most popular museum in Canada.