Travelers visiting Eastern Canada are likely to know a little about Canada’s two French-speaking cities. But what if travelers only have time to visit one of the two cities? Both Montreal and Quebec offer an incredible look at the region’s connection to French settlers and all that they brought to North America. But, if there’s only time to visit one, let’s see which city suits which travelers. From beautiful Montreal parks to old Quebec City, travelers may have a tough choice, but one where they really can’t go wrong.
Why Montreal is the right solution
Montreal serves as a bit of a gateway to the rest of North America. With access by train, plane, bus and car to many Canadian and American cities, it is easy to travel to and from Montreal. The European vibe of the city makes it quite unique compared to other nearby cities. Montreal’s French colonial roots give the city a unique atmosphere in this part of the world. From the language and food to the architecture, the French influence is clear. All of this, along with its beautiful parks and the St. Lawrence River, will have travelers saying this is the perfect city for them.
Architecture and town planning
As walkable cities, Montreal has to rank among the most walkable cities in the world. The city’s downtown offers easy connection to the trendiest and most residential areas of the city. Thanks to a system of boulevards, public parks, cycle paths and a relatively simple metro system, it is an ideal city for navigating on foot.
The city is also home to some stunning structures that are great to observe while walking around this city. Places like Mile End and the Plateau also bring a bit of diversity to the city’s culture, with their trendy boutiques, small bars, restaurants and international food markets.
Food and drink
With amazing cuisine influenced by both French culture and other cultures that have ventured into Montreal over the years. Travelers visiting Montreal will have the most amazing restaurants and tastes in the city.
Atwater Market Cheese Factory
Some would say that dairy products simply taste better in Montreal. With an incredible selection of everything from yogurt to cream cheese, Montreal is Canada’s dairy capital. With their strong French culture, dairy products are important to this city. Home to delicious stinky cheeses, this is the perfect destination for dairy lovers.
- Address – 134 Atwater Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H3J 2J4, Canada
- Contact – +1 514-932-4653
- Their Cheese
Jean Talon Market
This European market is an essential destination for fresh produce and specialties. But one of the main draws for travelers to this market is the oyster shop there. All travelers need to do is grab a stool and dive into a shellfish adventure.
- Location – Google Maps
- Contact – +1 514-937-7754
- must try – Oysters
This traditional French bistro approaches its menu with a somewhat rustic and populist style. They offer their visitors smoked game, foie gras and savory terrines. For travelers who love a good cut of meat, this is a must-visit gourmet destination in Montreal.
- Address – 2491-2501 Rue Notre-Dame, Montreal, Quebec H3J 1N6 Canada
- Contact – +1 514-935-6504
- Cost – $$$$
Part of Montreal’s charm is the beauty that surrounds it. Travelers visiting Montreal will have the chance to discover the local inns, vineyards and traditional maple sugar production sites, Cabanes-à-sucre. For travelers who want to venture into the parks and surrounding nature, there is also an array of hikes to choose from.
Cultural and special events
Another great aspect of Montreal is the number of free or affordable ways to enjoy the city’s streets and public spaces. Events like the International Jazz Festival attract visitors from far and wide to enjoy the summer and dance a little with the drummers at Parc du Mont-Royal, and Piknic Electronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau. In the heat of summer, street vendors become commonplace and the pedestrian-only streets of Rue Sainte-Catherine are packed with people enjoying the warm weather.
Why Quebec City is the right solution
Quebec and Montreal from both French-speaking cities and the east coast of Canada. Only three hours away from each other, they share a lot of history. They are both picturesque and culturally significant cities, and they both offer a lot to their visitors. However, if travelers had to choose, then Quebec City would be the better of the two, and here’s why.
Closer to the ocean and with great waterways like the St. Lawrence River and with access to the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec City is a nature lover’s dream. With its old French architecture, cobbled streets and historic neighborhoods, Quebec can offer even more French vibes than Montreal. And with food and restaurants, which are at least equal to Montreal, Quebec must be a traveler’s choice.
Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a bastion of traditional French culture in North America. It is also the only walled city in Canada, as well as the entire United States. Travelers can stroll through its historic cobbled streets and admire the various historical sites of Old Quebec. It’s the best place in North America to experience European charm and influence on the continent.
Food and drink
Quebec City has many passionate chefs working in established and emerging culinary establishments. This collection of enthusiastic and competent chefs has made Quebec City an unmissable gastronomic destination.
Restaurant Le Saint Amour
Since its foundation by Jacques Fortier and Jean-Luc Boulay in 1978, the Restaurant Le Saint-Amour has been serving gastronomic circles for years. Its stellar French cuisine has made it an iconic destination for foodies and those who love good food.
- Address – 48 rue Sainte-Ursule, Quebec, Quebec G1R 4E2 Canada
- Contact – +1 418-694-0667
- Cost – $$$$
- must try – Halibut
The Leaning Bell Tower
Somewhere between unique cocktails, savory starters, and delicious entrees, travelers should realize just how amazing Le Clocher Penché is. Travelers will have an amazing evening if they have been here.
- Address – 203 St-Joseph East Quartier St-Roch, Quebec, Quebec G1X 5H4 Canada
- Contact – +1 418-640-0597
- Cost -$$-$$$
- must try – Ricotta Cavatelli
Those who like everything fresh from the oven, and in particular French pastry, should check out Paillard. Travelers can enjoy a bit of everything here, including fresh bread, pastries, pastries, specialty coffees, soups, salads, gourmet sandwiches, and ice cream in the summer.
- Address – 1097 Saint-Jean Street, Old Quebec, Quebec, Quebec G1R 1S3 Canada
- Contact – +1 418-692-1221
- Cost -$
- must try – Increasing
Montreal may be an island full of gorgeous parks and surrounded by beautiful nature, but Quebec City is still the top city for exploring nature. This is largely due to its proximity to the St. Lawrence River and the Gaspé Peninsula. Both of these destinations offer visitors to the city almost endless nature to explore and enjoy.
- Montmorency Falls – St. Lawrence River, 83 m (272 ft) waterfall.
- Local hikes – Trail maps
culture and history
Travelers with a bit of history will delight in glimpsing this city’s historic structures that boldly claim their French influence. Some of these sites include the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec. Travelers can also check out the historic defensive structures as well as a variety of museums to check out, making it the better of the two cities to learn about French culture and the roots of this region.
- Basilica of Our Lady of Quebec – Built 1647