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Quebec/Montreal advice


eppler
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Was hoping to get a little advice from those in the know.

 

Our cruise finishes in Quebec with the final 2 days (really 24 hrs) in Quebec.  We are planning to stay an extra day somewhere because we hate to race off the ship and go to the airport.

 

Flights from Quebec back home to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania are expensive, leave at 5:15 or 6:15/30 am, and most have long layovers for total travel time of 7+ hours

Since we have a full day in Quebec my thought was to get off the ship, travel to Montreal (train, bus or rental car).  Do a few things for half a day in Montreal and then fly home the next morning.  Flights from there are cheaper, shorter and leave a little later in the morning.  We would also get to see the sites/country side between the 2 cities.

 

Would appreciate any thoughts on what I am not thinking about.  Also, any thoughts on rental car versus public transportation from QB to Montreal

 

Thanks in advance

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7 hours ago, eppler said:

Since we have a full day in Quebec my thought was to get off the ship, travel to Montreal (train, bus or rental car). 

Very doable. The train on Canada's Via Rail (essentially their much nicer version of our Amtrak) is quick, easy, and the train station in QC (Gare du Palais) is close to the cruise ship docks. I wouldn't rent a car-- it would take extra time away from exploring both cities and won't save you time. Others have taken the bus but my first choice here would be the train. 

 

7 hours ago, eppler said:

Do a few things for half a day in Montreal and then fly home the next morning.

Train trip times are about 3 hours so I would leave in the morning (8am train gets you in right before lunch) and that should give you enough time to explore Montreal a little bit. Keep in mind that Montreal is much larger than Quebec City so you won't have enough time to do much but you can get a little flavor of the city.

 

If you do take the train to Montreal I would suggest looking at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel for your overnight there. It is located right above the Montreal train station you come into and you can literally take an elevator from the station up to the hotel. It will provide you with the fastest way to drop your bags and go explore. 

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My preference would be to take the train. 

We were going to take the train from QC to Montreal in Feb 2020 but an issue with the route forced us to rent a car to make the trip instead.  The trip most of the way was pretty straightforward but I felt it was a bit of a grind at about 3.5hrs (including a short break in the burbs).  Fortunately, my friend who grew up on Montreal was driving but I thought the streets in Montreal itself were somewhat confusing and I think I would have struggled a bit.  

We took the train in the other direction from Montreal to QC in Dec 2021 and we enjoyed the carefree ride.  

 

+1 on the Fairmont QE. I've stayed there a few times in the past for work and I really enjoyed it.  Very central and convenient if taking the train as @princeton123211 describes.  

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Another option is to take the Orleans Express bus, which has more frequent departures than the train.  It takes 3 to 4 hours depending on time of day, similar to the train, but it gives you more choices of when to travel.  A flexible ticket costs CAD$65.74 for adults.  That's cheaper than the flexible fares on VIA Rail, though it's more expensive than the non-refundable "Escape" fares if those are still available on the desired train.

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On 8/6/2023 at 8:36 AM, eppler said:

Would appreciate any thoughts on what I am not thinking about.  Also, any thoughts on rental car versus public transportation from [Québec] to Montreal.

Transportation between Québec and Montréal is generally good. Both buses and trains depart from the same Gare du Palais in Québec, a very short distance from the port. Both buses and trains go directly to downtown Montréal and to Trudeau airport (at Dorval), allowing you to choose whether to stay at a hotel in either downtown Montréal or near Trudeau airport (at Dorval). There is also good regular local transportation between downtown Montréal and Trudeau airport (at Dorval). Note that the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel is integrated with the downtown Montréal railroad station, Gare Centralé, but there are many other hotels convenient to all relevant stations. Thus, you have many good options. Here's some details of the foregoing.

 

Railroad service is operated by Via Rail Canada, www.viarail.ca, at the following times. Fare is $48.29-167.86 CAD tax inclusive, or $150.62-249.50 CAD tax inclusive in business class, to either downtown Montréal or Dorval.

Days             Mo-Fr Daily Daily Daily Daily

Depart Québec    05:25 08:10 12:36 15:00 17:45

Arrive Montréal  08:37 11:26 15:54 18:11 21:00

Arrive Dorval    09:32 12:26 17:02 19:22 .....

 

Bus service is operated by Orléans Express, www.orleansexpress.com, at the following times. Fare is $75.59 CAD tax inclusive to downtown Montréal; $98.84 CAD tax inclusive to Trudeau airport.

Days             Daily Daily Daily Daily Daily Daily Daily

Depart Québec    06:30 07:30 09:30 10:30 11:30 12:30 13:30

Arrive Montréal  09:30 11:25 12:45 14:15 14:30 15:45 16:30

Arrive Trudeau   ..... ..... 13:30 ..... ..... 16:30 .....

N.B. The 06:30 departure arrives at 10:45 on Mondays and Fridays

 

Days             Daily Daily Daily Daily Daily Daily

Depart Québec    15:30 15:30 16:30 17:30 18:30 19:30

Arrive Montréal  18:30 19:20 19:45 20:45 21:30 22:45

Arrive Trudeau   19:15 ..... ..... ..... ..... .....

 

Express transit bus service is operated by the Société de transport de Montréal, along route 747, http://www.stm.info/en/info/networks/bus/shuttle/747-yul-montreal-trudeau-airport-downtown-shuttle, from the Montréal bus terminal used by Orléans Express, from the Montréal railroad station used by Via Rail Canada, and from other bus stops in downtown Montréal, to Trudeau airport (at Dorval), at frequent intervals throughout the day, 24 hours hours daily, 7 days per week. Fare is $11.00 CAD non-taxable.

 

 

Edited by GTJ
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For those who may know….we will be taking the afternoon train from QC to Montreal after disembarking. Is there luggage storage at Gare du Palais, so we can spend a few more hours exploring QC? Easier with a business class ticket?
Merci!

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9 minutes ago, mdj59 said:

For those who may know….we will be taking the afternoon train from QC to Montreal after disembarking. Is there luggage storage at Gare du Palais, so we can spend a few more hours exploring QC? Easier with a business class ticket?
Merci!

The Quebec Via Rail station (Gare du Palais) offers checkroom service:

https://www.viarail.ca/en/plan/baggages/station-checkroom

https://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/stations/quebec/quebec-city

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3 hours ago, mdj59 said:

Is there luggage storage at Gare du Palais, so we can spend a few more hours exploring QC?

There are self-service luggage lockers in the bus portion of the Gare du Palais, far to the back of the station and on the left.

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Having driven through Montreal, I would strongly advise against renting a car, especially if you are not at least somewhat familiar with French. Montreal drivers are notoriously aggressive, the rules of the road are different, and traffic in and around Montreal is a nightmare. The train should be very convenient, will get you right into downtown Montreal, and especially if you buy early, shouldn't be too expensive. 

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10 hours ago, neeuqdrazil said:

Having driven through Montreal, I would strongly advise against renting a car, especially if you are not at least somewhat familiar with French. Montreal drivers are notoriously aggressive, the rules of the road are different, and traffic in and around Montreal is a nightmare.

I would say it is not so much of a language barrier: it does not take much effort to understand the meaning of "nord," "sud," "est," and "ouest, or the word "arrêt" when printed on a red octagonal sign. More so it is the urban driving: driving in New York City is good practice for Montréal. Indeed, as a New Yorker I am very comfortable getting around Montréal on foot and using public transportation, and the highway traffic is just like home.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We are from SoCal and used to having a car available at all times. We are renting a car the morning of disembarkation in QC and driving to Montreal. Seems to be more of an assurance that we will get to the airport on time for a late afternoon flight. If we get there early we get a little bonus time in Montreal.
 

I also like having the trunk of the car protecting my luggage.

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14 hours ago, robbinsca said:

We are from SoCal and used to having a car available at all times. We are renting a car the morning of disembarkation in QC and driving to Montreal. Seems to be more of an assurance that we will get to the airport on time for a late afternoon flight. If we get there early we get a little bonus time in Montreal.
 

I also like having the trunk of the car protecting my luggage.

Montrealer here. If you are driving down from Quebec City to Montreal to board a late afternoon flight, I HIGHLY recommend you make use of the excellent Google Traffic system and watch very carefully for road closures and traffic jams. Learn to avoid the red and black lines on Google. There has been a huge increase in road closures in and around the island of Montreal over the last few years and there are actually times, particularly on weekends, when entire highways and/or bridges are completely shut down for construction. In the inner city orange traffic cones are pretty much everywhere these days.  Note also there is massive construction going on at the airport, with complete re-building of the parking garage and long traffic jams with cars lining up to drop off and pick up passengers at the terminal,  even on weekdays. Car rental return at YUL is in the same parking garage immediately adjacent to the terminal building, and that garage, as at two days ago when we drove past it, has been 30% demolished for its reconstruction.

 

I'm not trying to sound alarmist, you should still be fine, but please plan ahead and watch for traffic jams. They're not guaranteed, but are happening far more frequently than they used to.

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1 hour ago, lx200gps said:

Montrealer here. If you are driving down from Quebec City to Montreal to board a late afternoon flight, I HIGHLY recommend you make use of the excellent Google Traffic system and watch very carefully for road closures and traffic jams. Learn to avoid the red and black lines on Google. There has been a huge increase in road closures in and around the island of Montreal over the last few years and there are actually times, particularly on weekends, when entire highways and/or bridges are completely shut down for construction. In the inner city orange traffic cones are pretty much everywhere these days.  Note also there is massive construction going on at the airport, with complete re-building of the parking garage and long traffic jams with cars lining up to drop off and pick up passengers at the terminal,  even on weekdays. Car rental return at YUL is in the same parking garage immediately adjacent to the terminal building, and that garage, as at two days ago when we drove past it, has been 30% demolished for its reconstruction.

 

I'm not trying to sound alarmist, you should still be fine, but please plan ahead and watch for traffic jams. They're not guaranteed, but are happening far more frequently than they used to.

Thank you for passing this along. Will definitely take your advice!

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23 hours ago, lx200gps said:

You're quite welcome. Any more questions, I'm happy to help.

Hi lx.  We are considering  staying in Montreal for 2 nights.   I see that you recommended the Fairmont QE hotel and it looks very nice.  How far is downtown from Old Montreal and is it walkable?  Are there any areas we should avoid walking in downtown or Old Montreal?

Also, does the shuttle bus going to the airport pick up at any hotels or do you have to go to a bus station?

Thanks so very much.

 

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1 hour ago, McFins said:

Hi lx.  We are considering  staying in Montreal for 2 nights.   I see that you recommended the Fairmont QE hotel and it looks very nice.  How far is downtown from Old Montreal and is it walkable?  Are there any areas we should avoid walking in downtown or Old Montreal?

Also, does the shuttle bus going to the airport pick up at any hotels or do you have to go to a bus station?

Thanks so very much.

 

The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is an excellent hotel located at the main train station.  From the QE (which is, basically, downtown), it is an easy 20 minute walk to Basilica Notre Dame in the heart of Old Montreal, which is safe for walking during the day.  The 747 Shuttle to the airport stops at Dorchester Square not too far along Rene Levesque from the QE.  Here is info on that (you'll want 747 Ouest (West) to get to the airport).

 

https://www.stm.info/en/info/networks/bus/shuttle/747-yul-montreal-trudeau-airport-downtown-shuttle

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Looks like someone already answered for me, but yes, the "Queen E" is a good bet, not quite equidistant between the prime shopping area between Blvd Rene Levesque and Sherbrooke St centered on St Catherine St., and Old Montreal where the cruise port is located. From the QE to the center of Old Montreal, which is considered to be Place Jacques Cartier and Nelson's Column (Yes, that Nelson) is about a 30 minute walk. Happily much of it is downhill going, but that means the walk back is uphill ;o(  Notre Dame Cathedral is sort of on the edge of Old Montreal and is a slightly shorter walk.

 

So much of that area between downtown and Old Montreal, which passes through the financial district BTW, is so heavily used that I've never considered it anything less than perfectly safe. I might be a bit more cautious if I had to walk it at 3AM, but during daytime and especially in tourist season, no problems at all.  Montreal has seen an uptick in homelessness in recent years, and they are to be found quite regularly downtown.

 

I'll rely on the previous response re the bus service to the airport, as I have never done it and would take a taxi or Uber to the airport over a bus 8 days a week. One note of caution, there is massive construction going on at the airport proper, and we've seen staggering traffic jams leading up to the passenger pick up areas, as in kilometers long bumper to bumper traffic jams. I don't know whether buses or taxis have special lanes to access the drop off areas, but you may want to consider leaving a few extra minutes to catch your flight. At the very least, Google Maps Traffic does a credible job of showing the state of the traffic jams around the airport leading up to the terminal building, so it would be well worth it to check it regularly around the time you expect to be heading there. Certain days and times of day will better or worse than others, IIRC late afternoon can sometimes be problematic due to the folks picking up and dropping off pax from all the arriving European flights.

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very helpful lx thank you.   We will take a taxi to the airport.

Would we be better off staying in the Old Montreal area?    Not sure where most of the sights/shops/restaurants are but I’ll also do some research.  
Looked at the Fairmont QE and while it looks lovely it is a a bit more expensive than what we want to spend 

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35 minutes ago, McFins said:

very helpful lx thank you.   We will take a taxi to the airport.

Would we be better off staying in the Old Montreal area?    Not sure where most of the sights/shops/restaurants are but I’ll also do some research.  
Looked at the Fairmont QE and while it looks lovely it is a a bit more expensive than what we want to spend 

Old Montreal is very historic and a beautiful area to visit, I can highly recommend it. What time of year are you planning to visit? During the summer months, May to early September, it's VERY popular and can be crowded, particularly on weekends. Even so, it has lots of great restaurants, some in very historic old buildings (Old Montreal technically dates from the 1600s, though most of the real old stuff is archeological now), and most of it dates from the early 19th). Lots to see and do, even the Cirque Du Soleil run a show there every summer. There are also a bunch of hotels, Marriotts and Hiltons and a bunch of boutique hotels, probably every price range. As a local, I've never stayed in a hotel down there, but there are a bunch to choose from. A site like Tripadvisor should give you a good idea of the options.

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W like Springhill Suites  it is not far from the Basilica 

They have a good breakfast buffet  & close to restaurants/bars  etc 

 

Not sure what prices are now  all the hotels  everywhere seem  to be  expensive

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6 minutes ago, LHT28 said:

W like Springhill Suites  it is not far from the Basilica 

They have a good breakfast buffet  & close to restaurants/bars  etc 

 

Not sure what prices are now  all the hotels  everywhere seem  to be  expensive

They sure are, not just here but all over. At least folks from south of the border have the favorable US exchange to help them out

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