Why Visit Quebec?
La Belle Province oozes old world charm. There are parts of the province that are old and up to 400 years old, including the Port area of Montreal, the fortress and Old Town of Quebec City, and the charming route 132 along the South Shore of the St Lawrence. There are beautiful parks and natural areas for sports and for recreation in the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, and the Gaspe. And did we mention, you get to practice your French?
Here is the route of the Trans-Canada Highway from east to west:
The Trans-Canada Highway touches only the most southerly regions of this huge province, but provides a great introduction to the history and culture of the regions along the St. Lawrence River.
The beautiful Gaspe Peninsula is a significant side-trip to the east, and highly recommended if you’ve got a few extra days. Its about 1000km from Grand Falls NB to Campbelton NB and then Highway 132 around the coast of the Gaspe to reconnect with the Trans-Canada Highway at Riviere du Loup. For those who want even more adventure, there are ferries across the St Lawrence at Matane to Baie Comeau and Trois Poistoles to Les Escoumins Quebec, a little further west. From there you can take the North Shore AutoRoute 138 west past Ile d’Orlean to Quebec City.
From Riviere du Loup, it’s a 190 km drive to Quebec City,on Highway 20, all along the south shore of the river ending at Levis, just across the river. If you want to catch a bit of Quebec’s rural charm, then take the Riviere du Loup – St Simeon ferry across the Saint Laurence River, and cruise the rustic north shore of the St Lawrence, with a detour onto Ile d’Orleans before heading into Quebec City.
If you want to enjoy the charm of French colonial Quebec, get off the highway onto Route 132, a beautiful 2-lane backroad along the south shore of the St Lawrence to pass by historic farms of the Anciens Regime and rustic villages of La Pocatiere, Saint-Jean Port Joli, St-Michelle De Bellechasse, and St-Vallier De Bellechasse.
The Trans-Canada highway does not pass through, but rather by, Quebec City. Quebec is the only walled city in North America, perched high on a cliff overlooking the River as it narrows, and its attractions reflect both its French heritage and the relics of British colonialism. The city’s Old World charms make it a romantic must-see for travellers along the Trans-Canada. From Levis, you can take a short ferry ride to Quebec City’s charming Lower Town
The highway (Route 20) is divided between Levis (south of Quebec) and Montreal — a distance of 110 km. Montreal benefited as a result of its location at the junction of the mighty St Lawrence and the Ottawa River, both important to the early fur trade. It later in the age of steam becoming the major inland seaport for Canada, and the point where cargoes were transferred to trains to and from Canada’s vast interior.
From Montreal, the Trans-Canada heads northwest, as Route 40 in Quebec and then #417 in Ontario, nuzzling beside the Ottawa River, and then moving inland away from the River. The highway heads toward Ottawa, the nation’s capital. Montreal is an island, so has many bridges over the various rivers that surround it
Montreal is a vast metropolis, and is said (by the New York Times) the cheapest way to feel like you’re in Europe. The city packages a European sense of style into a North American big city, with great shopping, fine dining, and incredible nightlife.
Montreal By-pass Toll-Route
Recently, Quebec opened Autoroute #30, a southern detour (TOLL) route around Montreal, which allows truckers and those not wishing to stop in Montreal to bypass the city.
NOTE: FOR THE COVID-19 STATE OF EMERGENCY: The A-30 southern bypass around Montreal was toll-free. As of June 2020, this HAS ENDED. Regular tolls are now back in service.