Monday, June 9, 2008

Quebec-Je me souviens!

We're headed up to our lake house in the Laurentians soon so I thought I would publish my top picks for a vacationing in Quebec. Enjoy!


The Fairmont at Montebello is an experience you should not miss. Located in between Montreal and Ottawa (1.5 hours east of Montreal or an 1 hour west of Ottawa). I would describe it as "posh-rustic". The hotel is a giant log cabin with 5 wings. The middle of this five-pointed star is a lobby with a stone fireplace and high-ceilings. The hotel has a ton of amenities: spa treatments, indoor pool, bike rental, horse-back riding, golf. In the winter they have dog sled rides and all kinds of festive activities. Best of all they accept pets and the concierge will even walk your dog for you (for a fee)!


About 1 hour north of Montreal is the Laurentian mountain range with tons of lakes, ski hills, resorts and golf. Here are some highlights:
For $43 you can enjoy a day pass to the Scandanive baths or get free day use if you book a massage. The surroundings are beautiful in winter or summer. You can alternate between hot tubs, cold baths, Finnish dry sauna, Norwegian steam bath, and year-round dips in the river. There's a snack bar with drinks and sandwiches or salads. Two towels are provided, but I recommend you bring a comfy robe for walking around because your towels get really wet!
Mont Tremblant
Parc Mont Tremblant offers all kinds of hiking, biking and canoe trips (or snow shoeing and cross country skiing in winter). The resort at Mont Tremblant has lots of restuarants and tourist activities.
There is some great dining in the Laurentians. For a very upscale, but amazing experience I recommend L'Eau a la bouche. The table d'hote menu with wine pairings changes seasonally.

A newer restaurant in Val-David that is also particularly good is Les Zebres. We went there for an amazing New Year's Eve dinner over the holidays.
Close by is a coffee house and bar with live music in the evening, Le Mouton Noir.
There's lots of info on stuff to do in Montreal. I would check out Fodor's guide to Montreal for a comprehensive guide.

Good places to stay in Montreal include the new boutique hotel--Hotel Gault. This hotel is located close to the hip and happening part of Boulevard St. Laurent in the Plateau. In Old Montreal I recommend the St. Paul hotel if you like that modern stark style. Or, if comfy and cozy is more your style the Hotel Nelligan is close by.

Montreal has got tons of great restaurants, but a few of my favorites are:

Joe Beef
At Joe Beef the daily menu of homey comfort foods is written on a blackboard on the wall. Drinks are served in jelly jars and napkins are dish towells. Fresh oysters are a mainstay and a must have starter. This restaurant is very small and popular so reservations are a must. In the summer the patio is open so tables are a little easier to get. Indoor spots can get quite noisy so be prepared, but the ambiance is all part of the experience.

I have not tried their new sister restuarant, Liverpool House, yet. If anyone has tried it let me know what you think.
This Japanese restaurant has two locations in Montreal. However, for some reason the food at the Metcalfe location seems better to me. Sho-dan is the place to go for inventive sushi rolls like you have never had before. These creative rolls are not officially on the menu, but you can get a list if you ask for it. Some of my favorites are Lips (reminds me of chips and salsa), Sexy Sushi (like a slice of cake), Black Dragon and Pizza Sushi.

Rumi is a cozy restaurant in Outremont with a great outdoor patio in the summer. They have nightly specials which include a variety of tangines as well as a selection of kebabs that are always on the menu. I highly recommend the "Ginger Juice" which has bunch of fresh squeezed ginger in it and the sweet mint tea to finish off your meal. The key lime pie for dessert is excellent.

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