Quebec : Saint-Lawrence River Loop

Explore Montreal, Quebec city, great scenery, and go whale watching
Trip Route : Montreal – Quebec city – St. Simeon – Riviere du loup – Montreal
Approx. distance : about 700 miles (1100 km)
Duration : We took 1 week at a leisurely pace
My daughter and I took this trip in July 2010

If you live in the North East U.S. this is a nice trip to take relatively close to home. You can get the feel of Europe without getting on a plane. French is the mother tongue of most quebecers, but many people, especially in the cities and tourist areas, speak English. Montreal is less than 500 miles from Philadelphia and about 300 miles from Boston. If you want to fly in, Trudeau Intl. is a major gateway airport with flights from all over.

View from Mont Royal Park, Montreal, Cnada

View from Mont Royal Park

There’s lots to do in Montreal and the city has a good metro system making getting around without a car easy. A visit here has to start with old town, with it’s 18th century buildings used as shops and cafes. You can enjoy the view of the city from Parc du Mont Royal then enjoy the nightlife around Rue Crescent. If you plan your trip in July you can check out the biggest jazz festival in the world.

Head north east toward Quebec city. Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico. This city also has a vibrant old town, a UNESCO world heritage site. Here you can find the Chateau Frontenac, claimed to be the most photographed hotel in North America. I know I’ve taken many pictures of it. Outside the wall, on the Plains of Abraham, is where the British won the battle to take control of the province away from France.

Old town Quebec city, Canada

Old town Quebec city

At this juncture of the trip we took a little detour north to Jacques-Cartier National Park. Only about thirty minutes north of Quebec city, it feels much further from civilization. I went for a hike here hoping to see a moose or a bear, but the only wildlife I managed to find was mosquitoes.

Jacques Cartier National Park, Quebec, Canada

Jacques Cartier National Park

If you take the detour or not, at this point, you’ll want to head north east away from Quebec city towards La Malbaie (along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River). Just a few miles away from the city you’ll see huge waterfalls to your left. This is the Montmorency falls, or Chute Montmorency in french. Standing almost a hundred feet taller then Niagara falls, they’re definitely worth a visit.

After this, continue going north east heading for La Malbaie. This is a nice little town along the river and one of the best places to look for a hotel if you’re staying in this area. It has hotels, grocery stores, gas stations, a post office etc..

Between La Malbaie and St. Simeon, Canada

Between La Malbaie and St. Simeon

Just north of here, at St. Simeon, you can go out on a whale watching boat and catch the ferry across the river to Riviere-du-loup. If you want to extend your trip just head north to one of the other ferry crossing points at Les Escoumins(40 miles) or Forestville(80 miles).

After taking the ferry across to Riviere-du-loup, or Wolf River en Francais, start your journey back southward towards Quebec city and on to Montreal. The road on this side of the river is a major highway with rest stops and should be easy going.

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