Canada is an extremely vast country: bigger than most Western European countries combined, it can hardly be visited in a single trip. You’ll run out of time a lot faster than you’ll run out of destinations to see! Today, we will be focusing on a single province: Quebec, the only French-speaking region of North America.
In the following article, we will study the main sights to see in Quebec, we will cover a few touristic resources to use and the presentation will end with a few cultural tips and guidelines to develop strong and healthy relationships with the fellows you meet in Quebec, Montreal and regions.
Montreal, the bustling metropolis
We’ll come to nature in a second; before, as most travelers tend to do, you should see if you’d be interested in visiting the main touristic spot in the province, which is the city of Montreal.
Even though the touristic seasons range from December to March and June to August, there is always something to do when you are in the city. You can enjoy different kinds of festivals, from theatre events to huge musical happenings and traditional cultural presentations. There are a few major events you should know if you want to plan your stay around them:
Festival Juste Pour Rire: This is one of the biggest comedy festivals in Canada. It mostly features French Canadian humorists but you can also find a few performances in English as well as silent comedy, magicians and much more. A lot of events also take place outside.Dates: In 2014, between July 12th and July 31th
The New France Festival: History fans will love this festival. During a few days, people dress as if they lived in the 16th century during the colonization of the continent by the French empire. It is the perfect occasion for all kinds of demonstrations: dances, banquets, tales of what happened during that era, museums and crafts… once again, most of it takes place in French but craftsmen and exhibitors will gladly give you explanations in English.Dates: The program and dates are usually announced a few months beforehand
Osheaga: Osheaga is a 3 days musical festival that definitely appeals to a large crowd. The Cure, The Black Keys, The Lumineers, Snoop Lion, Mumford and Sons… these are still pretty big names showing up year after year and you won’t have to pay a Madonna-price-tag.
Dates: In 2014, between August 1st and 3rd.
Then you’ll hear about Montreal en Lumieres, The International Jazz Festival in Montreal and many others. The resources mentioned below should help you navigate around the numerous events.
Did you know that Gaspésie, a small and typical Quebec region, was named as one of the 20 most beautiful spots to visit in the National Geographic top 20 in 2011?
It was selected since it offers five natural areas and six wildlife sanctuaries where you can admire flora and fauna. There are also four national parks based in Gaspésie where you can practice kayaking, canyoning, hiking, sailing and many more hobbies. Even though Winter is a less active period, you’ll find snowmobile trails to try out a very typical type of vehicle, dog sledding activites ans ski hills.
The view in this region is breathtaking and the slow pace of life feels amazing when you are looking to take peaceful vacations.
Touristic guides to show yourself around
Today, you do not need to pay hefty fees to tourist agencies in order to create your perfect travel plan. With internet and its amazing resources, you’ll have a easy time finding hotels and landmarks in the country.
First of all, you can’t avoid Tripadvisor when it comes to finding hotels’ ratings and peer evaluations for all kind of touristic spots. It is fairly safe from manipulations so you can base yourself on what other customers have said to see if you should have a good experience or not. You’ll be able to see all major attractions by ratings’ order.
If you’re looking for a most « local » approach to tourism, Passeport Vacances could be the website for you. On the previous link given, you’ll see a list of main activities recommended in Montreal, some of them coupon with a sweet coupon to get 3, 5 or 10$ off activities or lodging plans. You do not get to see peer reviews but you’ll find out about sights that are not covered by mainstream touristic guides… Arbraska, for example, is an amazing Quebec concept that should be discovered.
A few cultural tips
Let’s conclude by best practices to avoid conflicts or unhappy moments during your stay in Quebec.
Watch your language: In urban Montreal, most people are able to speak English without any problem. In general, the level of English in rural areas is also superior to people in most developed countries as Quebecers feel a North American pressure to learn the language. This does not mean that people love English and that they welcome with open arms people who do not care about French! Try to pick up a few words of French and do not be rude if people have a hard time understanding you. If you approach this topic in a gently way, people’s natural warmth should make the situation fine.
Respect political views: Speaking of politics might not be a good idea if you are with very sensible people. Half of the province feels like becoming an independent country and half of the province despises this project. It could be a good idea to be curious and ask people about their opinion, but do not feel comfortable enough to give a very confident point of view on the situation… you do not know the local realities and you risk starting an argument!
Do ask for help: As a general rule of thumb, people will gladly answer your questions, guide you around or look for something for you on their smartphones. This is not the case of everybody (and people will not walk 10 minutes to guide you somewhere) but it is worth braving your shyness.