Quebec, the Other France!
Canada's largest province is also one of its most beautiful and intriguing. Quebec - famously French, historic and strikingly beautiful. From huge urban cities to rural communities, maritime towns and mountain getaways, Quebec offers a unique cultural experience that is unique in North America.
Despite its considerable size, most of Quebec's population lives near the Saint Lawrence River, especially between Montreal and Quebec City.
Montreal is a major aviation hub, so flying here to start your journey is a natural choice. French and English are the main influences, but this unique Canadian city is truly international.
Perhaps the biggest draw in Montreal is the city's Old Town, which is a central riverside neighborhood, preserved in much of its original state, and profuse with French flare. The seventeenth century architecture and cobblestone streets are just a couple of the features that make this area special. Old Montreal can be explored easily in a day.
The Downtown core has many of the big chain hotels you'd find in any city, while Old Montréal, the Plateau, and other surrounding areas have unique auberges (inns) and boutique hotels.
Most of the major hotels in Downtown-the ones with big meeting rooms, swimming pools, and several bars and restaurants-are ideal for those who want all the facilities along with easy access to the department stores and malls on rue Sainte-Catherine, the museums of the Golden Square Mile, and nightlife on rues Crescent and de la Montagne. If you want something a little more historical, consider boutique hotels that occupy the centuries-old buildings lining the cobbled streets of Old Montreal. Most of them offer all the conveniences along with the added charm of stone walls, casement windows, and period-style furnishings.
With regards to culture and activities, you should take the time to see a hockey game and maybe have an initiation to? Keeping in mind that Montreal is an island, it is was as such an important site for water-based sports during 1976 Summer Olympics and you can still enjoy water sports today: dragon boat lesson, catch a wave (yes, you can surf in Montréal!)...
if you are looking for something quieter, visiting the city on a bike is a good alternative. You can find unique bike tours created by professional guides to explore Montréal's history, architecture, cuisine, and quirky sides.
Chosen for its strategic position overviewing river, this super-sized version of Old Montreal is steeped in history and flushed with European charm. Cobblestone walkways, well-preserved 17th century architecture, sidewalk cafés and the only North American fortress walls that still exist north of Mexico, have all contributed to Quebec City's status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hotel options range from elegant boutique hotels in the Old City to larger chain hotels and, of course, the iconic Chateau Frontenac (now part of the Accorhotel Group). There is so much to do and see in Quebec City that two nights is probably the minimum stay to take it all in.
We slept at the Auberge Saint-Antoine, a Relais & Chateaux, located in the heart of Old Quebec. With only 95 rooms, it is a lovely boutique hotel. Hundreds of artifacts from both the French and English regimes were discovered during an extensive archaeological dig on the property. In this unique contemporary space, the past has been audaciously re-interpreted for you to enjoy. It also host intimate, and yet glamorous, Jazz concerts (every Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays).
On your way out of town be sure to stop at nearby Montmorency Falls (taller than Niagara Falls!) and Isle D'Orleans, where you could even find a gourmet food truck from the Auberge Saint Antoine (in partnership with the Vignoble de Sainte-Pétronille). The covered terrace is the perfect spot to savour an exquisite meal matched to just the right wine with magnificent views on the Montmorency Falls.
And in between? The Eastern Townships !
As we rented a car upon arrival in Montreal Airport, we took the time to make the journey between Montreal and Quebec City. It is a charming region of Quebec about an hour south of Montreal, stuck in between the Saint Lawrence River's southern shore and Northeastern U.S.
We first stopped at the Lake Massawipi at the Hover Manor. This is the perfect location if you are coming with a group for incentive trips; no matter in which season you are coming: ice fishing, ice sculpting, horse-drawn sleigh ride, bike excursion, lake cruise, horseback ridding. And after you can enjoy the outdoor swimming pool or the Spa & Wellness area, to relax before a wonderful dinner (the best we had during our whole stay in Quebec!).
We also strongly advise you to follow for a while the Quebec's Montérégie cider route. Visit some Cider Houses and have a free tasting. We personally went to Michel Jodoin Cider House, where we had a full guided tour of the cellars and facilities and they showed how cider is made. We ended the visit, of course, with a tasting. We would not want to miss the ice cider, for anything in the world. It is the equivalent of ice wine, but obviously with apple. This is a specialty from Quebec and we were not disappointed at all (we even took back some in our suitcases! )
Last but not least it is also the perfect opportunity to visit a sugar shack. You will learn every single secret about the sugar maple, that they of course turn into the famous syrup but not only! You will find in under different form: soap, candle... At the end of the visit, take part into an authentic dinner. Of course the menu is all around sugar maple, so we hope you love it! Generally you'll find pea soup, thick-cut ham, sausage links, bacon, meatballs, meat pies, omelet, fried pork rinds called "oreilles de crisse," roasted potatoes or French fries, pickles, beets, baked beans and fresh-baked bread. Yes... it's not light!
Now there is one thing left to do: contact us! We will help you build your private or incentive trip!