Quebec vs Montreal

Quebec vs Montreal

With masses of nature and diverse cities, not to mention famously friendly people and a laid-back lifestyle, a getaway to Eastern Canada could easily turn into a lets-move-to-Canada trip. But for those of us who don’t have the luxury to jet off to the luscious lands of Quebec Province indefinitely, a sure question to consider is Quebec or Montreal? The short answer: it depends on the type of city break you’re after – Montreal is bigger and more urban, which means you have an array of fine-dining options, boutique shopping and cosmopolitan museums at your fingertips; Quebec is smaller and quainter, making it a great choice for those keen to explore historical sites and old cobbled streets. Let the battle of Quebec vs Montreal commence…


For an Old-Town Feel… Quebec

Quebec is second to none when it comes to quaint, cobbled streets – think Old Town Edinburgh with a French Provence infusion. Lined with upmarket souvenir stores, charmingly-traditional restaurants and stone houses with colourful shutters, Petit-Champlain Avenue (in the heart of Old Quebec) is often crowned Canada’s most beautiful street. Shop for hand-crafted wooden sculptures and wall hangings at Flamand Sculpteur, enjoy a coffee at the nearby original Maison Smith at Place Royale and buy sweets at La Maison Jean-Alfred Moisan, the oldest grocery store in Canada and a true Quebec institution. Despite being much bigger and more urban, some areas of Montreal have retained some serious old-world charm – specifically, Old Montreal, a neighbourhood with gorgeous boulevards that look as though they’ve been plucked straight out of 17th-century Europe.


For Trendy Neighbourhoods… Montreal

When it comes to the trendy neighbourhoods, it’s hard to crown a champion in the battle of Quebec vs Montreal, but we’d say the latter has the slight edge, due to their sheer diversity. Make sure to dedicate some time to soak in the artsy vibe of Mile End – catch a theatre show, rummage through vintage stores and sample some local craft beers. There is also Mont Royal Avenue, a laid-back neighbourhood filled with colourful French townhouses, stylish cafes and charming street markets; as well as Verdun, a chic neighbourhood almost entirely dedicated to eating and drinking, with craft breweries, cocktail bars and fine-dining restaurants all in abundance. To get a taste of each district in one fell swoop, we can arrange for one of our top local guides to devise a tailored cycle route that utilises the city’s some 400 miles of cycling routes. And while most of the action in Quebec centres around the old town, there are still a good few neighbourhoods known for their arty, bohemian feel – Montcalm, Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Saint‑Roch are just a few of our favourites.


For the Best Food… Montreal

Montreal’s food scene has quite literally feasted on the city’s diverse, multicultural, melting-pot-like identity. Neighbourhoods like Verdun and Mile End are full to the brim with cosmopolitan eateries dishing up everything from Mexican and Italian to Cambodian and Argentinian. Verdun is the place for high-end gastronomy – Mediterranean-Asian fusion cuisine at Chez BOSS & fils, French cheeses and charcuterie at Fromagerie Copette and Cambodian street food classics at Les Street Monkeys. Head to Mile End to sample the classic Montreal-style bagel. They tend to be thinner, sweeter and denser than the New York bagel and you can pick up some of the very best at St. Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel which are real institutions in the city. For something a bit more unusual, we can arrange a hearty breakfast in a local Montrealer’s gîte (cottage) followed by a culinary cycle tour to discover the city’s most iconic delicacies. In Quebec you’ll want to focus more on the regional delicacies served up in the many traditional establishments – make sure to sample poutine (cheesy French fries), tourtière (meat pie) and soupe aux pois (pea soup), as well as sweet treats like maple syrup ice cream and sugar pie.


For Historical Sites… Quebec

Quebec is the only fortified city in all of North America and a prized UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its mind-boggling number of historic sites. In fact, the entire city feels like one great big open-air museum. Alongside one of our knowledgable local guides you can enjoy a private tour to all the top sites: the Quebec Citadelle, perched on a promontory strategically overlooking the St. Lawrence; the Plains of Abraham, the which saw the British battle the French to control the region in 1759; and Battlefields Parks, a historic site filled with old cannons, monument and Mortello towers. Historic sites in Montreal, in turn, are more turned to religion – the Order of Saint-Sulpice Seminary and the Notre-Dame Basilica are among our favourites.


For Cosmopolitan Museums… Montreal

While, yes, Quebec features a great range of museums (the Museum of Civilisation and the fine art museum are particularly well-curated), they tend to err on the side of traditional, sometimes lacking the contemporary flare of their Montrealer cousins. Our team of experts can tailor an itinerary for you to enjoy the best of Montreal’s unfailingly memorable museums – be that to the Observatoire de Montreal to admire a multimedia exhibition on contemporary life in Montreal (hint: diversity, creativity and passion) or to the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum to marvel at the city’s impressive underground archaeological remains.


For Easy Access to Nature… Both!

We thought we’d finish up our Quebec vs Montreal debate with something they both offer in equal measure: great access to nature. The landscapes in and around both cities characterise the natural beauty of Eastern Canada perfectly: vast mossy forestlands, gushing waterfalls and peaceful lakes. From Quebec City, a beautiful riverside journey takes you into the heart of the Laurentian Mountains where you can enjoy hiking and animal watching, swimming and canoeing in tranquil lakes or just kicking back in one of our top properties in the region: an exclusive lakeside lodge surrounded by nature. Montreal is surrounded by an array of national parks that can be reached within an hour. Mont-Saint-Bruno, Mont Saint-Hilaire and Mont-Mégantic each offer dizzyingly diverse landscapes and plenty of well-marked trails.