Arrive in Montréal and head to your hotel in Vieux-Montréal. Drop your bags and head out to grab a coffee and a light bite at Olive & Gourmando. Then stroll down rue St-Paul, the oldest street in the city, and do a little browsing.
Head to the Pointe-à-Callière Musée d’Archéologie et d’Histoire to brush up on your Québec history. Kitty-corner to the museum is Place Royale, the first public square in Ville-Marie. Walk down to the Vieux-Port and stroll along the waterside promenade and check out Habitat 67 and Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, the oldest church in the city.
In the late afternoon head out onto Jacques-Cartier Quay to Terrasses Bonsecours for a drink on the patio and a great view of the skyline as the sun begins to dip down. Head past the artists and street vendors on Place Jacques-Cartier and up to Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal for the nightly light show.
Try local French favorite Le Club Chasse et Pêche for dinner. After the meal, head to Place d’Armes Hôtel and Suites for a nightcap and a view of the city’s twinkling lights at rooftop bar La Terrasse Place d’Armes. If you’re not ready to head back to your hotel, there’s always a chance to make a few late-night dance moves at dance club Wunderbar.
After breakfast at Le Cartet, rent a Bixi from the closest stand and head down to the river and along the Lachine Canal. Hook a right and cross the bridge at Marché Atwater; leave the bike there and head along rue Notre-Dame West to dig for treasures in the numerous antiques shops. Stop for lunch at Burgundy Lion for their classic fish and chips before hopping back on a bike or walking up to the Centre Canadien d’Architecture.
From there head along rue Ste-Catherine for some retail therapy, making sure to stop into classic Montréal department stores Holt Renfrew and La Maison Ogilvy, as well as Marie Saint Pierre, the eponymous boutique of designer Marie Saint Pierre. Grab dinner at the Dominion Square Tavern and sip on a Canuck cocktail.
Catch a dance production at the Place des Arts or see an old art house film or foreign flick at the Cinémathèque Québécoise, before walking back to your hotel through Chinatown and picking up a slice of Japanese cheesecake at Pâtisserie Harmonie.
Take the Métro to rue Sherbrooke and walk north on rue St-Denis, taking as many side streets as possible to explore the neighborhood’s true character. Grab breakfast at French bistro L’Express and keep your eyes peeled for the cobblestone avenue Duluth and, farther north, avenue Marie Anne, Leonard Cohen’s old haunt. Explore a bit of the French side of avenue Mont-Royal before heading back west.
Take advantage of one of the best lunch deals in the city at Au Cinquième Péché and then head for boulevard St-Laurent. Browse the shops and take in the street’s history as you head south. Stop in at Kitsch ’n’ Swell and La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse. Have a microbrew at Réservoir and get a thick, smoked-meat sandwich at Schwartz’s. Catch an up-and-coming band or dance the night away to the city’s most eclectic DJs at Casa del Popolo.
Go for breakfast at Le Gros Jambon before heading to the latest exhibit at the Musée d’Art Contemporain. Then lunch at Brasserie T! next door. Hop on bus 80 up avenue du Parc, getting off at the George-Étienne Cartier statue, and follow the signs to the top of Mont-Royal for a spectacular view of the city. Take your time coming back down, and head north on avenue du Parc toward Mile End.
Browse the chic boutiques on avenue Laurier, then make your way to St-Viateur Bagel Shop and eat your hot-from-the-oven treat with a coffee from Café Olimpico. Check out the vintage stores on rue St-Viateur and avenue Bernard. Comic fans should hit up Drawn & Quarterly.
Walk north into Petite Italie on St-Laurent and pop into Café Italia for a shot of espresso, then over to Marché Jean-Talon for some local Québec goods. Keep dinner simple but chic at Bottega Pizzeria and then hop a cab (or take a stroll) to Bar Waverly for a little nightlife.
Head to the Village, get goodies to go from Le Mie Matinale, and make your way to the Pont Jacques-Cartier. Built over the St- Lawrence River, the bridge has spectacular panoramic views of the city, and it’s a unique way to get to Parc Jean-Drapeau. Once on the island, you can head off for a day of rides at La Ronde or just ogle the awe-inspiring wonder that is Buckminster Fuller’s Biosphère.
Have a picnic on the shores of the river, wander the gardens, then hop the Métro back for an unparalleled dining experience at Toqué! and an evening performance at Cirque du Soleil.
Throw your hiking boots in a bag and leave Montréal on the first bus to Mont-Tremblant National Park for a day in the rugged outdoors. At the largest and oldest park in the province, you can hike, swim, canoe, and kayak here to your heart’s content. For something a little less taxing, head to Mont-Tremblant Resort for some alpine luging and pedal-boating. Spend the night in Mont-Tremblant’s Auberge la Porte Rouge and have dinner at Seb l’Artisan Culinaire.
Get up early for the drive to Québec City. Check into your hotel in Vieux-Québec’s Upper Town then head directly to Café-Boulangerie Paillard for some fresh croissants. Browse the shops and historic buildings on Côte de la Fabrique until it brings you to Terrasse Dufferin in the shadow of Château Frontenac. Snack on a beaver tail pastry as you stroll the promenade and look out over the St- Lawrence, then head into the chateau for a guided tour.
Tour the historic Citadelle and then wander through the winding streets and alleys of Upper Town.
For dinner, take your pick of the restaurants along rue St-Louis or splurge at Le Patriarche. After dinner, walk along Les Fortifications and finish the night at a boîte à chansons, such as Le Pape-Georges, or with a nightcap at the cozy Bar Ste-Angèle.
After breakfast at Crêperie le Billig take the Escalier du Casse-Cou or ride the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec down to one of the oldest streets in North America, rue du Petit-Champlain. Browse the independent boutiques and follow the cobblestone lanes that will eventually lead you to Place Royale. Take a peek at La Fresque des Québécois and see if you can point out the famous characters. Whether you fail the test or not, head to the Musée de la Civilisation and brush up on your history.
After visiting the museum, head west along rue St-Paul to browse antique stores. Or skip the stores and take the well-hidden rue Sousle- Cap until it brings you to Galerie Madeleine Lacerte. Check out the latest exhibit and then cross the street for a drink at Taverne Belley and watch the locals playing petanque.
On your way to Saint-Roch, stop to admire the graffiti murals on the highway overpass, then head for a bistro dinner at Les Bossus. Cap the night off with a show at Le Cercle and a bit of dancing at La Cuisine.
Have a hearty breakfast at Le Petit Coin Latin, then head to the Fontaine de Tourny and take a trip around the statues at the Hôtel du Parlement. Stroll the rolling hills of the Parc des Plaines d’Abraham and make a stop at Tours Martellos. Continue through the park all the way to the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. After seeing the latest exhibit, grab launch at Morena on avenue Cartier.
Follow Cartier south, down the sloping hill, and take a right on rue St-Jean, where you can spend the rest of the afternoon popping in and out of stores and drinking coffee at the many cafés. Don’t miss Auberge J.A. Moisan, the oldest grocery store in North America, or the quiet shade of St-Matthew Church and Cemetery.
While you’ve got the European vibe going why not continue with a French wine and regional cuisine at Le Moine Échanson. After your meal, head over to La Grande-Allée for a taste of sophisticated nightlife at Le Charlotte Ultra Lounge.
Head down to Cyclo Services and rent bikes for the day. Pack your bags with sandwiches and goodies from the Marché du Vieux-Port and then take the Corridor du Littoral heading west. Ride about three kilometers and make a stop at the historic park Domaine Maizerets. After a wander among the ancient trees and lily-pad ponds, get back on your bike and ride another nine kilometers to the impressive park Chute Montmorency.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Montréal & Québec City.