Stop #5: Montreal
Montreal, you totally won us over. We’re smitten. We’re even thinking about asking you to go steady (immigration procedures be damned!). Okay, okay, maybe we won’t take it that far yet.
It would be an understatement to say that we “liked” Montreal. We had a downright blast. Yes, it was challenging to bike ~20 miles per day, and there were lots of hills- but that just gave us an excuse to eat and drink ourselves into mild food comas at delicious restaurants!
In between eating, we did manage to see some of the major and not-so major tourist attractions. We found ourselves charmed by the city – there’s a distinctive quality to the cityscape that we hadn’t yet experienced in other North American cities; something about the lack of skyscrapers and the intimacy created by more human-scaled buildings & streets. Montreal also seems to place a great deal of value in its public spaces and is home to many very welcoming and pleasant urban parks.
Instead of giving the full play-by-play of all of our activities, I’ll skip straight to our highlight reel:
- Brasserie Dieu de Ciel – I was SO excited to visit this brewery after being introduced to them via New Belgium Brewing’s Lips of Faith series. They didn’t disappoint 🙂
- Biosphere de Montreal – Unfortunately closed when visited, but we did get to admire it from outside
- Old City Montreal & the Promenade du Vieux-Port
- Fairmount Bagels – sorry, folks we didn’t think they better than New York Bagels, none-the-less it interesting to learn just how seriously Montreal takes its bagels (Google “Montreal Bagel Wars”)
- Evening strolls through the Parc LaFontaine and the trendy Mile End neighborhoods, enjoying the sound of french being spoken around us.
- Had our favorite meal of delicious croissant sandwiches and sangria at La Croissanterie Figaro
We stayed at Sogerive Halte Campground, a city-run marina & campground located across the river from downtown Montreal in Longueuil, QC. There’s nothing fancy about this campground – it’s just a large parking lot with a few hook-ups – but boy, is the location amazing! Several quick options were available for getting into downtown: nearby metro & bus station, a separate bike road, or even a water taxi from the marina that’s onsite. (We opted for the 9 mile bike ride across the Pont du Jacques Cartier so that we could stop and see the Ile Sainte-Helene and save our loonies for beer and food.)
In all, we’d return to Montreal in a heartbeat. If you need more reasons (besides the beer and food) on why, just give http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/ a quick peek.
Stop #6: Quebec City
Since we enjoyed Montreal so much, our expectations for Quebec City were high. We managed to secure a parking spot in Levis, and mapped out a 9 mile biking route that enabled us to see a bit of the area on the southern shore of the river before taking a ferry across to Quebec’s Old City. This was our fourth day in a row of averaging about 16-20 miles of biking per day, so we were a bit more tired than usual. Thus, we were way less enthused about trekking up and down the numerous and steep hills of Quebec city.
Though Quebec’s Old City is home to some truly striking architecture and has a charm stemming from it’s emphasis on old-world architecture and city planning, the environment seemed a bit too manicured & over-the-top touristy for us to really love it. None-the-less, both us are glad to have visited, as the visit did spark our interest in the history of Quebec Province and lead us reading up on the subject during our next drive. I also snapped a few nice photos!
We stayed at Camping La Relache in Levis, QC. This is a well maintained campground, though like many private RV parks, the sites are closely packed together. The staff was nice and went out of their way to give us information about the area. We mostly picked this spot for its proximity to Quebec City.