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A Tale of Two Cities

by Matt Salisbury on 22 December 2014, 13:12PM A Tale of Two Cities

When it comes to the questions you get asked in this job, ‘Would you like to go on a wildlife trip to Canada?’ was a pretty easy one to answer.

It’s a country that I’d never previously visited, and the opportunity to head out onto the Saint Lawrence River to view whales and to head deep into the forests in an attempt to find moose was just too good to miss.

Without doubt, the province of Quebec is one of stunning beauty, with the rolling landscapes of the Charlevoix Region, the riverside views from the Train of Le Massif and the awesome power of the Montmorency Falls amongst the delights that were enjoyed.

But Quebec’s cities were just as impressive, and are certainly worthy of further exploration.

The first of the two cities I’d spend time in during my Canadian adventure was the provincial capital Quebec City; one of the oldest European settlements in North America dating back hundreds of years.

Quebec is very much a city of two halves, with the historic buildings of the Old Town sitting side-by-side with the high-rise buildings that are to be found outside the city walls.

Strict building regulations within the fortified city walls ensure that the area has lost none of its charm, with the chance to take a stroll on your own through the city streets, to travel in a horse-drawn carriage or to embark on a guided tour from the tourism centre on Rue Sainte-Anne, opposite the famous Chateau Frontenac.

It was one such trip that provided the chance to explore the delights of Rue Saint-Jean, which is a popular draw for tourists thanks to an array of bars, shops and restaurants.

The French influence was also more than evident at every turn, most notably in the impressive architecture that would surrounds you and could also leave you to feel you were actually walking through the streets of a major European city.

Montreal by contrast provides a much more multi-cultural experience, with the city being home to immigrants from around the world who arrived on the Saint Lawrence and then settled.

A trip along St Lawrence Boulevard provided the perfect chance to see that first hand, travelling through Little Portugal, Little Italy and the Jewish Quarter, while Montreal also has its own bustling Chinatown.

As in Quebec, the historic region of the city provided a fascinating insight into the Montreal of the past, with narrow streets lined with impressive old buildings and a selection of statues that harked back to a previous era.

Montreal is a city that simply begs to be explored, and amongst the hidden delights that we were able to visit were Wilensky’s Light Lunch on Fairmont Avenue for a famous Wilensky’s Special and the Sainte Elizabeth bar, which was home to one of the most impressive beers gardens I’ve visited in some time. The beer itself was also pretty good...

Arguably one of the most memorable moments however would come on a trip to the Olympic Stadium, which was built to host the 1976 Summer Games.

Here, there was the chance to take a trip to the top of the Montreal Tower, the tallest of its kind to be found anywhere in the world, with the end reward being outstanding views out across the city.

While Quebec and Montreal provide alternative experiences of city life within Canada, there is no doubt that both will feature highly on the ‘to do’ list when I get chance to head back across the Atlantic in future.

Having had a taste of what to expect, I’ve only been left wanting more...

Five things to do in Quebec City:

  • Sample fine dining showcasing the best of Quebec’s famous ‘Flavour Trail’
  • Tour the World Heritage site of Old Quebec and embrace the history of North America’s only remaining fortified city walls
  • Take in the impressive religious sites of the Notre-Dame de Quebec Cathedral and the Notre-Dame des Victoires Church
  • Marvel at the power of water cascading over the Montmorency Falls
  • Stroll past the famous Chateau Frontenac and take in stunning views across the Saint Lawrence from Terrasse Dufferin. Take the funicular to the Lower Town, or enjoy a ride on the winter toboggan

Top tip:

Book a table at Chez Boulay, where a mix of culinary traditions and international influences combine for a first rate dining experience

Five things to do in Montreal:

  • Take a tour on foot or by bike to see the best the city has to offer, with diverse neighbourhoods, historic buildings and bustling markets to explore
  • Embrace the stunning design of the Notre-Dame Basilica and explore the streets of Old Montreal
  • Hit the track and cycle around the famous Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame or pay a visit to the Olympic Stadium
  • Enjoy a stroll through the beautiful Botanical Gardens before getting close to nature in Montreal’s impressive Biodome
  • Take in a hockey game in the Bell Centre

Top tip:

Join Fitz & Follwell for the Flavours of the Main tour and sample some of Montreal’s top treats

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