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quebec city for a month (or two)

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PA
posts: 291
reviews: 36
quebec city for a month (or two)

yes, you read the title of this correctly. i'd like some input from some locals and frequent visitors on my somewhat odd plan for next summer.

my story: i travel. a lot. i took all of last year off to travel as much as possible, and now i'm back to work. i'm a teacher; thus, my travels are once again limited to the summer months. instead of running all over for my two months off, i'd instead like to spend next summer REALLY getting to know a place. i want to do that whole 'live like a local' thing, but for real (i feel like people try to do this too quickly; it takes a while to feel like you really live somewhere). i have eight weeks to play with. wherever i'd choose, i'd spend at least a month, if not six weeks to the entire two months. currently my first choice--with much encouragement from my husband--is quebec city (obviously). here's why:

my requirements:

(if you'd like to read the long version of this, here's my post about my plans: suitcasescholar.com/2012/… the readers' digest version follows)

-near nature but in a large town or city

-somewhere with a slightly different culture

-somewhere with good food

-somewhere walkable or with good public transport (i'd also have a car in this case)

-somewhere that would make a good home base for a couple of long weekend (or long mid week) trips

-ideally somewhere that i could learn another language (i took six years of french but realized how little good that did me when i spent two weeks in paris a couple of years ago...)

all of that being said--is quebec city a good choice? i wanted to get someone else's opinion (other than my husband, who is VERY excited about the idea) before renting an apartment. thanks in advance for not making fun of this rather odd question. and feel free to ask MORE questions if that helps answer this one.

thanks!!!

quebec city
posts: 297
reviews: 12
1. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

I do not make fun of your plan. On the contrary whenever I visit a city I always try to live and act like locals and if I was younger spending 2 whole months doing so would be great! Quebec City looks like a European city to many tourists. It is in North America yet French is spoken locally. The fact that French is the main language doesn’t keep visitors from coming since they will always stumble across someone who speaks and understand English.

-near nature but in a large town or city The population of Quebec City is about 765,000 and could go to nearly 1,000,000 depending where you draw the line. You live in an average middle size city with nature 15 to 20 minutes away by car. Île d’Orléans, Lac Beauport are good examples.

somewhere with a slightly different culture You already have a good command of French. Locals will appreciate you use it even if it shows it is not your mother tongue. If you happen to be homesick you still have access to U.S. and English Canada medias on TV. CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX are carried on cable.

somewhere with good food Quebec City is famous for its restaurants. Let us know you favourite food and we’ll guide you around. Among the local family type restaurants let me mention St. Germain, Ashton (fast food), Normandin and many more.

somewhere walkable or with good public transport (i'd also have a car in this case) Quebec City is a walkable city with an extended bike paths system. The local bus company is the RTC or the Réseau de Transport de la Capitale. Here is the link to their website: http://www.rtcquebec.ca/

…quebec.qc.ca/citoyens/…velo.aspx

somewhere that would make a good home base for a couple of long weekend (or long mid week) trips Quebec City is a very safe city providing you use common sense. Unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Canada around 5% and may be slightly lower when seasonably-adjusted. When the time comes for you to rent an apartment I would suggest you check Kijiji.ca unless you have other advices or tips.

-ideally somewhere that i could learn another language (i took six years of french but realized how little good that did me when i spent two weeks in paris a couple of years ago...) Spending 2 months in a French-speaking environment will be very beneficial to your learning. French spoken in Quebec has a different accent than France’s. Belgium and African countries also have their own accent. Nowadays we have access to radio stations from all over the world so listening to French-speaking radio stations from Canada might be a good preparation (if you have some time to spare).

http://www.fm93.com/

http://quebec.radiox.com/

I am sure Quebec City experts will come up with other suggestions a useful as mines. If you go ahead with your plans I am looking forward to reading your report somewhere next Fall. In the meantime if you have specific questions feel free to ask. You might like a sneak preview of Quebec City. Here is a view of Place D’Youville the heart of the city:

…quebec.qc.ca/webcameras/place_dyouville.aspx

And another view from the tallest building Édifice Marie-Guyard:

observatoire-capitale.com/en/…webcams.html

Au revoir.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 31,270
reviews: 39
2. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

I think Québec City is a very special place. It makes me appreciate the courage, determination, adventure and innovation of the very early settlers from France who laid an important foundation for our country.

large enough city

a lot going for it when it comes to a different culture

great food

walkable, don't know about the bus service

great home base for trips to the Charlevoix or Montréal

definitely a place to practise French

If you are interested in Francophone culture as it relates to the history of Canada, you would see lots of attractions in QC. I hope you will do some research and reading about this before you get there. A very different point of view from the Anglophone point of view of the history of Canada.

Edited: 11:29 pm, November 13, 2012
PA
posts: 291
reviews: 36
3. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

hmmm. ok. so it sounds like 1. i made a good choice based on my 'requirement's and 2. there's something for me to learn in quebec city--which, to be fair, is ALWAYS on my list when visiting a new place. (that wasn't included in the post because it is understood that 'learning' is of utmost importance to me). i will likely return with more questions as the planning process continues (and i'll take some book suggestions, too!)

thanks!!!

Toronto, Canada
posts: 8,326
reviews: 466
4. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

QC is a great choice by your requirements....I'd also suggest a portion of this trip be spent in Montreal, maybe two weeks or so...

PA
posts: 291
reviews: 36
5. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

i visited montreal last summer and decided that i could most definitely live there. i'll consider adding it to my itinerary.

also--i'll be in toronto in early june. clearly i REALLY like canada.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 8,326
reviews: 466
6. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

Toronto is awesome, if you have any questions, there are plenty of people including myself that will answer them!

Massachusetts
Destination Expert
for Quebec City, Block Island
posts: 3,759
reviews: 33
7. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

First, I envy your ability to take a month to do it. I'd like to do it as well at some point, though probably in retirment. (LOL)

But a few thoughts. First, Quebec City meets your requirments, but it may not be your ideal. I love QC because it is slower paced, as well as the beauty, the shops, the architecture, and the food. And the people are terrific. And while my French is limited I've never experienced a problam communicating. (And yes, I agree with you about Paris. Communicating there was no problem either)

But as a teacher, and perhaps someone younger, Montreal has a younger, hipper vibe. It also has some great educational instiitutions, not that QC doesn't. Its foodie scene is bigger and more varied as well, and so too the art scene. And with the metro it is easy to get around. In short, if I were younger I might pick Montreal over QC for a month long stay.

Now Montreal will resemble more of a US city than QC, but there are neighborhoods in Montreal where it could be predominately french.

Both cities have access to some great outdoor locations nearby, as well a a few in between the 2 cities.

Think about it. I love them both,and travel to both often, but you want the best match as well.

JDP

PA
posts: 291
reviews: 36
8. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

hmmm. all very valid points. and when i visited last summer, both my husband and i agreed that if we could afford it, having a 'summer condo' in montreal would be great (though we also would love a summer home in bar harbor or on cape cod or the vineyard; i also wouldn't turn down the opportunity to move to vancouver or san francisco--i think we just really like the world!) i guess i wasn't considering it because i've been there already? i realize it will be a totally different experience living somewhere for an extended period of time. hmmm. i will have to think about this.

thanks for your thoughts! (for the record, we are also semi-seriously considering barcelona; however, the cost of lodging when combined with the cost of the flight makes it a bit unrealistic. we may have TIME, but we aren't rolling in money.)

Trois-Rivieres...
posts: 403
reviews: 113
9. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

I would definitely pick Quebec over Montreal if you want the feeling of the different culture and language. Montreal is an awesome city but in many parts of the city it is difficult to speak french in some shops as english is the main language in some neighbourghoods...the vibe of Montreal is different , multicultural...quebec is very different, modern, lots of cultural activities, outdoor is close to city or in the city with cycling , rollerskate hiking , parks close by. Lots of good restaurants and french speaking allover although everybody working in tourist industry speaks english too. When I was studying i lived in both cities for some years at each place. If loved both differently, but if i had to pick one, for the outdoors, the restaurants and the vibe of the city i would choose Quebec city in a heartbeat...

Massachusetts
Destination Expert
for Quebec City, Block Island
posts: 3,759
reviews: 33
10. Re: quebec city for a month (or two)

Well I have to say I love all your picks, Bar Harbor being a favorite, and i'm an original Californian so SF and Vancouver are 2 of my most favorite cities in the world.

But getting back to your goal, I really think Montreal fits your needs. Like Sf and Vancouver, it is an ethnic melting pot. I know the locals can give you some great areas to live, near the Mile End or Plateau area where you would be immersed in another culture. Montreal has some funky apartments. The outdoor stairways, especially on Rue St. Denis, are classic, The great chefs and seasonal food, you can't go wrong.

And get into the local plitics, French language vs. English, Parti Quebecois, whose ultimate goal is sovereignty for Quebec, a very interesting place.

And finally, think of it, if QC, or Montreal is your ultimate spot, as Quebecois culture. Yes, heavily French influenced but with a North American touch.

Post on the Montreal forum and see what happens.

And good luck!!

JDP