Exploring Quebec and Ontario: An Exciting Journey Across Provinces


Canada: The Ultimate Road Trip Adventure

Canada, with its vast landscapes, is the perfect place for a road trip adventure. This summer, I flew to the vibrant city of Montreal before picking up a car and heading through the heart of Eastern Canada to explore Quebec and Ontario’s best cities, sights, and national parks.

Montreal: A Cultural Capital

French-speaking Montreal is the cultural capital of Canada. Upon arriving late into the city after a long day of flight-delayed travel, my first impressions were of a big bustling North American city with a European charm. The French influence is obvious, but I quickly discovered that Montreal is a diverse city with lots to explore.

I maximized my sightseeing time in Montreal by purchasing a 24-hour travel card and jumping on the metro to Vieux-Montreal, or Old Montreal. This historic area is home to the city’s most famous attractions, including the beautiful blue-lit Notre-Dame Basilica. The 19th-century Gothic church is spectacular with its intricate wooden engravings, stained glass windows, and religious paintings. Each evening, the basilica also offers the Aura Experience, a multimedia musical and sensory experience projected onto the walls and ceiling.

Outside the basilica, I came across two statues known as “the two snobs.” These statues humorously portray the historic discord between French and English Canadians. Throughout my time in Montreal, I found warm hospitality from the French-Canadian hosts and enjoyed visiting Parisian-style cafes selling pastries, excellent coffee, and regional produce.

Exploring the streets of Old Montreal, I wandered down Rue Saint Paul and through the old port area, stopping to admire the views across the water from Ile Notre-Dame, home of Montreal’s famous Formula One circuit. In the evening, I treated myself to a fancy dinner at Foxy in Griffintown, where the locally sourced, seasonal menu cooked on a charcoal grill or wood-fired oven did not disappoint.

Quebec City: Step Back in Time

After leaving Montreal, I embarked on a 3-hour drive to Quebec City. The road was flat and uneventful, but the arrival in Quebec City was anything but. This world heritage site boasts a historic center full of charm. Wandering through the fortified walls of Old Quebec felt like stepping back in time.

I took a ferry from Levis, the town across the water from Quebec City, and explored the lower and upper towns. The iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac dominates the skyline and holds the title of the most photographed hotel in the world. The views from the upper town across the river to Levis are stunning, especially at sunset.

The cobblestone streets, ramparts, and centuries-old architecture make for a pleasant day of exploration. I visited attractions such as the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec and climbed the famous Breakneck Stairs, also known as L’Escalier Casse-Cou.

Quebec City is the first French settlement in North America and is home to many of the continent’s oldest structures, including the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest stone church in North America.

Montmorency Falls: A Natural Wonder

A short drive from Quebec City led me to Montmorency Falls, where the cascades are taller than Niagara Falls. I walked across the suspension bridge that spans the falls, offering a breathtaking view of the gorge below. The park surrounding the falls also offers several lookout points and trails for further exploration.

Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean: A Hidden Gem

Heading north from Quebec City, I reached the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, a hidden gem of Quebec. This remote area is known for its beautiful wilderness, including the Saguenay Fjord National Park. I booked a chalet in the area and spent five days enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

In Saguenay, I hiked through the Saguenay Fjord National Park, where I took in the views of the fjord, explored pine forests, and chased waterfalls. I also had the opportunity to ride on horseback through forest trails with a local guide, spotting wildlife along the way.

The highlight of my time in Saguenay was the via ferrata at Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay. This 4-hour trail included a 570-meter via ferrata, a ladder that offered stunning views of Baie Eternité, and a magnificent suspension bridge. The adrenaline-inducing activities, such as dangling from the bridge and spinning 360 degrees, added an extra thrill to the experience.

Exploring Further: Lac Saint Jean and Val Jalbert

Leaving Saguenay, I took a detour to the Lac St Jean area to visit the excellent Zoo Sauvage in St Felicien. The zoo features a trail park where visitors can travel in a caged train through forests and meadows where North America’s favorite animals roam in semi-freedom.

I also visited Val Jalbert, a “ghost town” that was abandoned in the 1920s. The village has been transformed into a living museum, with old buildings preserved in their original state. The Ouiatchouan Falls, which powered the mill boom in Val Jalbert, are a highlight of the visit.

Heading South: Maurice National Park and 1000 Islands

Leaving the Saguenay region, I traveled south through Maurice National Park, enjoying the scenic drive through forests and alongside the Maurice River. The picturesque landscape made for a memorable driving experience.

Continuing south, I passed through the 1000 Islands Parkway, a scenic drive that offers breathtaking views of the national park. The archipelago of lush green islands dotting the St. Lawrence River creates a picturesque vista.

The highlight of the 1000 Islands area was taking a cruise boat tour around the islands and visiting Boldt Castle in US waters. The boat tour provided stunning views of the islands, and Boldt Castle was a fascinating sight to explore.

Niagara Falls: A Natural Wonder

No trip to Eastern Canada is complete without a visit to Niagara Falls. I donned a poncho and boarded the Niagara Falls City cruise boat for an up-close experience of the falls. The power and beauty of the falls were awe-inspiring, and I couldn’t help but get soaked in the process.

Toronto: A Vibrant City

The road trip ended in Toronto, where I had the chance to explore the city for a day and a half. Toronto is a vibrant city with a mix of skyscrapers, independent shops, eateries, and cultural attractions.

I enjoyed street food, live music, and a Blue Jays baseball game at the Rogers Centre, all while taking in the impressive view of the CN Tower. Visitors to Toronto should not miss the observation deck of the CN Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city and Lake Ontario.

Overall, my road trip through Eastern Canada was a memorable adventure filled with stunning landscapes, fascinating cities, and exhilarating activities. From the vibrant streets of Montreal to the historic charm of Quebec City, the remote beauty of Saguenay to the natural wonder of Niagara Falls, and the lively atmosphere of Toronto, Eastern Canada has something to offer every traveler.

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