Given my home base in Toronto, Ontario, one of the natural travel destinations is our neighbouring province of Quebec. I have had several opportunities to explore “La Belle Province”, from skiing in the Eastern Townships, on Mont Tremblant and Mount St. Anne to official travel writing projects in Montreal, and a recent bus trip to Montreal and Quebec City with some European visitors. Every trip showed me new and unique facets of this great region.

So it was great to receive an invitation from Quebec Tourism for a luncheon in Toronto last week that was held in Toronto’s hip Distillery District. Tourism experts and travel writers got together to exchange the latest news and interesting travel ideas for exploring Quebec. Almost 20 Quebec organizations were represented to educate us about new travel opportunities in their province. I had a chance to talk to all the experts, grab some brochures and put together this article to share these Quebec travel ideas with you.

In alphabetical order you will find a listing and brief description of the various regional tourism organizations and hospitality providers that participated in this informative luncheon. Feel free to use some of this information for planning your next trip to Quebec.

The Skyline of Montreal

Le Bateau-Mouche

Le Bateau-Mouche is a river cruise company that offers a variety of scheduled lunch and dinner cruises on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. It also hosts private gala evenings, company anniversaries, retreats, team lunches and other corporate and group events. The Salle Panoramique holds 140 passengers at water level while the Salon Prestige provides an air conditioned upper deck and terrace for 50 passengers. The sophisticated menus are a creation of renowned chefs Louis-François Marcotte and Charles-Emmanuel Pariseau.

Croisieres AML

This family-owned company has been in business since 1972 and offers cruises all through Quebec. Destinations include Montreal, Quebec City, Levis, Tadoussac, Baie-Ste-Catherine, L’Anse-St-Jean and Rivière-du-Loup. The cruise line-up in the big cities includes a variety of different outings, such as maritime excursions; brunch, dinner or evening cruises; fireworks cruises and special events.  Whale-watching is offered in Tadoussac / Baie-Ste-Catherine as well as in Rivière-du-Loup while nature at its finest can be experienced in a cruise of the Fjord du Saguenay.

Eastern Townships

The Eastern Townships are located south of the Saint Lawrence River and north of the United States border and anchored by the main cities of Sherbrooke, Granby, Magog and Cowansville. Tourists are also attracted to the quaint villages of Knowlton, Magog and North Hatley. Over the years the Eastern Townships have developed into popular four-season destinations with ski resorts such as Ski Bromont, Mount Orford, Mount Sutton and Owl’s Head, some of which convert their operations into mountain biking centres in the summer. The region also features wineries, fabulous cycling and hiking opportunities, canoeing, horseback-riding, golf and many health centres and spas. La Route des Vins covers 127 vineyards on 132 km of panoramic routes along 7 picturesque villages. Antiques, galleries, and various culinary attractions such as sugar shacks, chocolatie nrs, pastry shops, bakers and restaurants of various types provide great opportunities for gourmets and art lovers.

Eastern Townships

Hotel St. Sulpice, Montreal

This luxury boutique hotel in Old Montreal is located adjacent to Notre-Dame Basilica and minutes away from the city’s Old Port. Its 108 spacious suites range from 550 to 1500 square feet and many of them boast a balcony or a fireplace. Some of the huge terrace suites overlook the sunny courtyard. The Restaurant Bagatelle Terrasse offers exquisite lunch and dinner menus and has been called “Montreal’s most beautiful terrace-garden”.

Hovey Manor – North Hatley

Hovey Manor, or Manoir Hovey in French, is a luxurious 5-star lakeside inn in North Hatley in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It is a proud member of the Relais & Chateaux, the world’s most prestigious hotel group. Located right on Lake Massawippi, this Manor was originally a private estate modelled after George Washington’s Mount Vernon. A prestigious resort inn for over 60 years, this property has won numerous awards and distinctions, including the Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List in 2007. The 39 guest room mansion is surrounded by 25 acres of woods and English gardens and offers a sandy beach to its patrons. Hovey Manor is a year-round destination for international travellers who appreciate privacy, serenity and personal attention. Executive Chef Roloand Menoir delights his guests with his innovative Quebec cuisine and a wine list with more than 1000 labels and extensive menu of artisanal cheeses. With its the old Carriage House is a favourite spot for pre-dinner gathering and the view over Lake Massawippi provides a perfect backdrop for a peaceful country getaway.

Just For Laughs Festival

This hugely popular comedy festival in Montreal has been attracting large crowds since its beginnings in 1983. It includes English and French-speaking comedians as well as international and non-verbal acts such as pantomimes and acrobats. Street performers can be seen throughout the festival in the beautiful and newly modified “Quartier des Spectacles”. It is accompanied by the Just for Laughs film festival that awards prizes to short and feature films. The 2011 inaugural Videotron Just For Laughs Gala will be hosted by star comedian Russell Peters. Craig Ferguson’s International House of Comedy (** Pancakes Not Included) features the popular host of CBS’s The Late Late Show. Modern Love: The Relationship Show is hosted by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet  and dissects love in every imaginable way. Another feature event is The Decline of the American Emprire?! which is hosted by The Daily Show’s John Oliver and will enchant those who love politics. Don’t miss this year’s festival, from July 11th through the 31st.

Montreal's beautiful Marché Bonsecours

Montreal Festimania

Montreal Festimania is a brand-new organization intended to position Montreal as a tourism and business destination par excellence in North America in the long term. This four-week event brings together the worlds of fashion, comedy, music and entertainment. From mid-July to mid-August the first edition of Montreal Festimania will boast 11 festivals of different kinds that will establish Montreal as a global festival hub. These fantastic events include the Just for Laughs Festival (comedy), L’International des Feux Loto-Québec (fireworks), the Nuits d’Afrique International Festival (music) , Zoofest (music, theatre, circus, humour, cabaret, storytelling), the Fantasia International Film Festival (film ), the Montreal Completement Cirque (circus arts), Divers/Cité (gay pride), the Osheaga Arts and Music festival (music), the MEG Montreal Festival (emerging and urban music), the Montreal First Peoples Festival (native culture) and the Montreal Fashion & Design Festival.

Landscape in the Outaouais Region

Outaouais Tourism

The Outaouais Region is located in Western Quebec  north of the Ottawa River. Its main areas include the Gatineau Region, the Pontiac Region and the town of Maniwaki. This region combines various cultural and heritage attractions with a wide range of nature and outdoor activities during summer and winter. The popular Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train is a throwback to the era of steam-powered railways while the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival attracts pilots from around the world. The region’s proximity to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, provides great cultural and entertainment opportunities. The Museum of Civilization, located in Gatineau, is Canada’s most visited museum. You can also experience a boat cruise on the Ottawa River or savour upscale cuisine at the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau. The Theatre du Casino du Lac Leamy will be featuring the Beatle’s Story to take you back to the glory days of the Fab Four. The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, a five star resort, features the largest hotel indoor pool in all of Canada. Active travellers will appreciate that there are over 220 kilometres of urban bike paths in the Outaouis Region. And Morrison’s Quarry offers the highest bungee jump in all of North America!

Quebec City Tourism

With its French-inspired historic architecture, Quebec City is city is a unique destination in North America, and Old Quebec is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Food lovers will enjoy Quebec City’s lively restaurant scene, and many travellers enjoy taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the atmospheric streets of North America’s only walled city. While the famous Chateau Frontenac towers over the city, other perennial favourites such as the Dufferin Terrace, the Old Port, Place Royale and the Quartier Petit-Champlain also enchant countless travellers. The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec presents Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes while the Observatoire de la Capitale has been revamped with interactive touch screen terminals and sound booths, 3D imagery to give you new insights on Quebec City’s interesting history. Le Capitole de Québec features The Man in Black – a Tribute to Johnny Cash and Dance into the Light, a tribute to Phil Collins. A unique culinary experience awaits you at Panache Mobile at Vignoble de Sainte-Pétronille: a gourmet trailer set in the middle of a vineyard. In recent years Quebec City has also developed into a popular cruise destination: major cruise lines such as Holland America Line, Prince Cruises and MSC Cruises now feature Quebec City in their Canada / New England cruise lineup.

The information about the various travel regions and tourism providers was gathered at an information luncheon that was organized by Tourism Quebec. La Belle Province is always a great place to travel to, and easily reachable for people along the entire Eastern Seaboard. Every year millions of people from places like New England, New York, Washington, Ottawa and Toronto travel to Quebec’s urban destinations and into the countryside to explore the province’s boundless outdoor opportunities. In addition to its unique heritage, culture and history, Quebec offers countless festivals, special events and outstanding hospitality.

The following information covers different tourism providers and regions and will be helpful to you in planning your next trip to Quebec.

Percé Rock on the Gaspé Peninsula

Quebec  Maritime

Quebec Maritime is the tourism organization for the regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent, the Gaspé Peninsula, Côte-Nord and the Îles de la Madeleine. Located on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River, the Bas-Saint-Laurent (Lower Saint-Lawrence) Region is a land of seafarers and farmers. Travellers will enjoy activities and adventures in the forests, islands and the shoreline of this pleasant region. The Gaspésie (Gaspé Peninsula) is one of Quebec’s most well-known tourist destinations. Its interior is rugged and boasts a section of the International Appalachian Trail. Cap Gaspé juts out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the famous Percé Rock at its tip. One of the main attractions on the North Coast (Côte-Nord) is the Whale Route where 13 species of whale found in the St. Lawrence River can be observed along this scenic drive. Tadoussac Bay is a member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club and a great starting point for ocean excursions. Îles de la Madeleine, the Magdalen Islands, are a small groups of islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and offer many kilometres of white sand beaches and sandstone cliffs. Quebec Maritime offers a combination of stunning landscapes, history, culture and friendly hospitality.

Quebec’s National Shrines

Canada has five national shrines, four of which are located in Quebec. Many of these shrines are popular pilgrimage sites, and the following Quebec shrines have been recognized by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops: Saint-Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, Our Lady of the Cape Shrine, the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and the Ermitage Saint-Antoine de Lac-Bouchette. Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal is known as the largest shrine in the world dedicated to St. Joseph while Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, located at 20 minutes from Quebec City, is dedicated to Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. Our Lady of the Cape Shrine is located in Trois-Rivières – its chapel, built in 1714, is one of Canada’s two oldest churches. The Ermitage Saint-Antoine de Lac-Bouchette is located near Lac Saint-Jean and is connected to the 215 km Notre-Dame Kapatakan hiking trail. More than 3.5 million people visit these shrines every year to experience their spiritual and historical significance.

Ste. Anne de Beaupré

Reseau Sepaq (Parks Quebec Wildlife Reserves)

The largest nature and outdoor network in Quebec features a collection of national parks, wildlife reserves and tourist resorts. 23 national parks offer trails, campgrounds, discovery and service centres, while 15 wildlife reserves cover huge tracts of forest and wilderness which are ideal for hunting, fishing, kayaking, canoeing or showshoeing. 8 tourist resorts will accommodate travellers in truly unique settings, from mountain lodges to cabins and tents. On 16 hectares of indoor and outdoor grounds, the Aquarium of Quebec  in Quebec City houses 10,000 marine animals, some of the most popular include polar bears, walruses and seals. Nature lovers will enjoy Sépaq Anticosti which includes summer vacations, fishing and hunting on Anticosti Island. Quebec’s scenic routes showcase some of the province’s best cultural and natural treasures: the Whale Route is one of the rare places where you can watch gigantic blue whales right from the coast. The Navigator’s Route focuses on the capes, bays, coves, islands and mountains of the St. Lawrence estuary. The Fjord Route highlights the glacial landscapes of the Fjord-du-Saguenay. The Mountain Route covers the majestic heights of the national parks of Grands-Jardins and Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie while the Summit Route offers hiking trails that lead up to three mountains with an altitude of more than 1000 metres.

Ritz-Carlton Montreal

Located in the heart of Montreal’s Golden Square Mile, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal has been one of the city’s most elegant hotels since its opening in 1912. Upscale boutiques, galleries and museums are just steps away from this luxury hotel. Acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud will create a fine restaurant in this legendary hotel. Born in Lyon, France and trained by renowned French chefs, Daniel Boulud has won multiple awards and runs restaurants in New York City, Miami, Palm Beach, London, Beijing, and Singapore. Recently the Ritz-Carlton has been totally reconstructed at a cost of $150 million. It is expected to be fully operational by 2012 and will feature 130 completely redesigned rooms and suites as well as 46 new luxury condominiums.

Sunset in the Laurentian Mountains

Tourisme Laurentides

The Laurentides are located in the southwest part of Quebec and include renowned ski resorts such as Saint-Saveur and Mont Tremblant. With its mountains, hills, plains and valleys, the Laurentian area is an extremely popular year-round getaway area for Montrealers, many of whom own vacation homes here. The Upper Laurentians boast 4,500 lakes and rivers set among mostly untouched nature while the Laurentian Heartland offers countless opportunities for action and relaxation. The Laurentian Gateway furthest south is minutes from Montreal and boasts a combination of agricultural tourism, heritage buildings, cycle paths and family attractions. All the makings of a romantic, family or sports vacation are there. Opened in 2010, the “Chemin du Terroir” (literally translated: “Local Road”) is a 226 km long signposted trail that covers agricultural tourism, heritage, culture and history, where locals await to share their Laurentian experience with you.

Tourisme Montreal

Montreal is perennially one of Canada’s most exciting cities. As Quebec’s largest metropolis, the city offers a great combination of culture, entertainment, architecture, culinary delights and festivals. Montreal’s lively nightlife has made it an attraction with visitors from all over the world. In an effort to cater to different crowds, the city has recently developed some new tourism packages with the themes For Foodies, Romantic Getaway, Family Package and LGBT.  Other recent additions include the Vista-Architecture Tour, a three-hour bicycle outing that covers some amazing historic architecture and great parks. Other cycle tours include Montreal City Highlights, Montreal Neighbhourhood tours, and the Montreal Sunday Urban Culture Experience. For the winter, Snow Tours Montreal offers guided experiences that cover Montreal’s major sights as well as activities such as ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow tubing. The Montreal Science Centre offers an exciting event called “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archeology” while the Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier can be experienced at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Bell Centre will feature a special show by the Cirque du Soleil  called “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour”.

Tourisme Saguenay – Lac – Saint – Jean

The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region is located in the centre of Quebec and features two major bodies of water: the Saguenay River and Lac Saint-Jean. The region is a fertile enclave within the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield, and its culinary offerings include a variety of cheesemakers, specialty farms, microbreweries, fruitpicking operations, sugar shacks and farmers markets. First Nations culture and industrial tours highlight the special heritage of this region, while galleries and museums will enchant art and culture lovers. The region also has unique offerings for religious and science-focussed travel. All sorts of summer and winter outdoor activities are easily accessed while whale watching and cruises on the Saguenay Fjord, the only navigable fjord in North America, are also popular activities.

The Village of Tremblant

Tremblant Intrawest

The Mont Tremblant Ski Resort has become Quebec’s premier ski and golf resort. Its pedestrian village offers shopping, dining  and nightlife in a charming car-free environment. There are a wide variety of accommodation options, from hotels to condos, chalets and vacation homes. The resort has  an Adventurer’s Club, a panoramic gondola, the Beach and Tennis Club and a mini-golf course that is free for guests that stay at participating hotels.  Skiers and snowboarders have long discovered Mont Tremblant, and a wide variety of activities await active summer vacationers as well: from  hiking, biking, horseback riding to swimming and golf. Special events and activities keeps young and adult guests entertained. Naturally a visit at the spa will provide much-deserved relaxation at the end of the day.

Via Rail

Being headquartered in Montreal, Via Rail is an important part of Quebec’s travel landscape. Via Rail offers great connections in the Windsor- Quebec City Corridor for leisure and business travellers alike with complimentary Wi-Fi Access along the entire route. The famous Ocean long-distance train service from Montreal to Halifax departs in downtown Montreal and travels across New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. Frequent connections also exist between Ottawa and Montreal. Via Rail is one of the most convenient ways of getting to Montreal and Quebec City, without the hassles of airport security.

Zoo Granby

Located in southwestern Quebec, Granby is the fifth largest city in the Montérégie region and one of its most popular attractions is the Granby Zoo. Founded in 1953, this zoo now features more than 1000 different animals of 200 species and attracts more than half a million visitors a year. Nearly $10 million have been invested in new facilities and two new and rare feline species will be featured: the Himalayan snow leopard and the Russian Amur leopard. The Amazoo water park is located next to the zoo. The zoo offers a variety of special experiences, such as An Evening at the Zoo which includes international culinary delights in exotic surroundings. Travellers can stay overnight at the Auberge Zoo Granby or experience a Night Safari, with presentations, dinner and a night spent in the Discovery Hut.

The Granby Zoo

Enjoy your time in Quebec…..

Posted by ralfowen

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