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Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

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Auckland Region...
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Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

We want to visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December this year. Will we be able to see all the sights or will the weather prevent us from doing so? We will be hiring a car and wondering what type of car to hire for road conditions, any suggestions?

Montreal, Canada
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1. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

There are some chances of a snow storm in December, but usually would last not more than a few hours, so you can wait it finishes and roads have been cleared if you prefer, which may take many hours in many areas. If you have never driven on snow or icy conditions you have to get use to it.

Any car rented will have snow tires (deeper thread and more grip), so no special car to hire.

Of course, some attractions are closed during the winter (and some others opens during the winter or for the weeks prior to Christmas), so it will depends what are the sights you wanted to see.

Quebec
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2. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

If you rent a car in Quebec it will have winter tires, if you rent a car in Ontario it will not unless you ask for them and pay a premium. Also remember that if you do a one way car rental you will pay a fee for the drop off.

I assume this trip is over a few weeks?

Auckland Region...
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3. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

Thanks for your reply

Auckland Region...
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4. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

Thanks for your reply

Montreal
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5. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

The weather should affect only your desire to go outside, not the sights themselves, although of course the cities are less interesting in winter than in summer: the trees have no leaves, for example, and it's cold so all the sidewalk cafés are closed, and the touristy areas, such as Old Montréal or the Distillery District, can seem awfully desolate.

In terms of snow: I'd say the best would be to build in some flexibility -- normally, the roads will be clear and driving is not a problem at all, but you just don't know when a snowstorm will hit, and you don't want to drive in a snowstorm if you have no experience, iso plan on being able to stay an extra day or two if it's a particularly bad storm. Weather is fast moving and they clear the roads quickly and pour lots of salt on them, and even blowing snow settles down after a few days. Plus, early on if it's not too cold, the snow doesn't even last long.

Keep in mind that can get around these cities easily without a car, although it's nicer to do so in the summer than in the winter. So depending on how many people you are. it may make sense to not rent a car at all, and use transit and the bus or the train between the cities. If you book the train far enough in advance at www.viarail.ca you can get discounted fares.

Montreal, Canada
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6. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

Well I don't know if RescueTeam will chime in soon withthe spiel about all the problems about winter driving but I will certainy suggest that you don't test your winter driving skills on our roads.

Having a full snowstorm is one thing and, yes you can then wait a few days to get road clearance but there are also blizzards, sun very low on the horizon if you are driving fronting it, and such. Particularly the dreadful black ice. You don't see it, it happens when the sun can be shining and not windy but it is still there and your car hits one of those black spots, it will become out of control. Even experienced winter drivers have problems with those and there every year this causes some deaths.

So much better to tke the train. As Tristou mentioned it goes to all the cities you want to visit, even Québec City if you want to throw that into your destinations. And the train is the most efficient mean of transportation during snowstorms. I don't like flying so much so in a former job I always took the train between Mtl and Toronto. Well it is was bad planning from the company because all the department directors where in Mtl when the storm started (one day before our TO meeting) and everybody was worried about me but I was riding comfortably on the train while they had to do the flight between Mtl and TO 3 times because of the bad weather. I arrived in TO at 10 pm and all rested while they all arrived after midnight and all stressed out.

Conclusion, take the train if you can, it might be costing a bit more than a car if you are more than 2 persons but I would trade the safety for $ at any time.

Montreal, Canada
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7. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

Oh and, crontrarily to what Hoplavie450 wrote snowstorms starts in November and many times in December they are stick snd stay snow while other years, indeed, we get very little snow before Christmastime.

SE Ontario
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8. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

I would also chime in and recommend the train. It is entirely possible you will have no snow, or at least encounter very little in the way of ice and snow in December. But if you are not accustomed to driving in such conditions - even with winter tires on a car - it can be frightening and dangerous.

I travel to all of these cities on a regular basis throughout the year on business, but in winter (with the exception of Toronto) I always take the train... and I am used to driving in all types of weather. So much easier and stress-free. And you do not need a car in the cities ... lots of public transit options.

If you do have winter driving experience all the better, but do take into consideration weather related delays in your schedule.

Montreal
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9. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

And I will repeat MY spiel about how as we talk about such awful conditions, we may leave the impression that life is impossible here in the winter and that you'd be crazy to even consider getting behind the wheel. Not so. These conditions all do exist of course, but for most of the winter, the roads here are dry and clear and driving is no different from summer.

Burlington, Canada
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10. Re: Visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in December 2012

The major difference in Montreal/Quebec snow and that of the New Zealand snow is the "cold". The snow in Montreal/Quebec can be abundant but also beautiful. Toronto snow is wetter and not as abundant but the drivers in Toronto have trouble adapting to it. Not so in Montreal/Quebec. That being said, snow is a fact of life and life goes on easily. As stated winter is just a season and life goes on. Take a train for your trip? Okay for going from A to B, not inexpensive and traveling times are scheduled.

Getting around by car increases your flexibility enormously and when in a major city you just park and use the public transportation system or walk around.

Our weather patterns over the past few years have been quite different, milder, less snow in many areas, but it's still Canada and as in NZ, weather changes quickly.

So to answer your question, yes, you'll be able to see many sights both indoors and out, just that the outside ones will be "winterized". For example, when in Toronto if you go to the top of the CN Tower you'll have a spectacular view if it's sunny but not so great if cloudy. In Montreal and Quebec walking around Old Montreal or Old Quebec you'll get a good idea of old time streetscapes. All three cities have something to offer that is unique to each one. Traveling between each one also offers some very pleasant options for visiting and sightseeing. All three have an enormous choice of restaurants of every variety imaginable.... well almost.