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The best place to get a taste of French culture without travelling to France, Quebec is Canada’s predominantly French-speaking province between Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. Montreal, the largest city, and Quebec City, the capital, are the main metropolises and where French heritage is at its most obvious, but nature is never far away. Hit the slopes of the Laurentians for skiing or the beaches of the Gaspe Peninsula for swimming. But for a true escape from it all, the remote north offers a look into Inuit culture.
Car hire in Quebec can be obtained in any of the province’s major cities, such as Quebec City, Montreal, Gaspe or Gatineau, as well as at most airports and rail stations. Compare car hire before you choose which leading supplier to use, with global firms such as Budget, National and Thrifty, as well as local outfits, well represented.
The busiest airport in the province can be found at Montreal, with Quebec City’s airport a close second in terms of passenger traffic from domestic, US and European cities. Buses connect major cities with Canadian cities outside of Quebec as well as US locations to the south. Trains come in from the US and cities in Ontario, as well as from destinations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Highway 401 connects with Ontario while there are several road routes linking the US.
Toll-free highways connect major Quebec locations. Right turns are not allowed on the island of Montreal. When you come across a stop sign, give way to other drivers who arrived at the sign before you. Winter weather can lead to poor driving conditions, with drivers of car rental in Quebec recommended to carry a winter survival kit in the cold months.
After exploring the historical areas and museums of Montreal and Quebec City, head for the spectacular Montmorency Falls, which is higher than Niagara Falls. The province’s national parks are another major draw, including Forillon and La Mauricie. Drives along the St Lawrence take in many of the province’s well-preserved natural and cultural gems, such as Ile d'Orleans. For winter sports, head for Mount Tremblant, just a two-hour drive from Montreal.
The south and west of the province has a humid continental climate, with snowy, cold winters and humid, hot summers. Central Quebec sees some of the east’s coldest winters and short summers. The arctic climate of the north is characterised by bitter winters and brief, cool summers. If you plan to visit the Laurentians for skiing, December to March is the time to come, while visits to the south and west are popular in summer, when temperatures hover around 25°C.