Southwestern Quebec is a region in Quebec. The culturally rich and lively city of Montreal is the focal point of the region. North of the city and the St. Lawrence River lies the Laurentian Mountains, a popular recreation area, especially for skiing. South of the city and the St. Lawrence River are many small towns, farms, lakes and hills. Parts of this area were settled by Loyalists from the American Revolution giving the area a bit of a New England feel.
|Eastern Townships |
on the border of Quebec near Vermont and New Hampshire
northeast of Montreal, between the Laurentian mountains and the St. Maurice River valley
ski country north of Montreal
the area immediately south, west and east of the island of Montreal
- 1 Laval — the island just north of Montreal, made up of rural and suburban communities
- 2 Longueuil — a suburban community south of Montreal with an interesting museum dedicated to the role of women in Quebec
- 3 Magog — skiing, wineries, water sports, and home to Memphré, a legendary lake creature
- 4 Montreal — the city and island of Montreal
- 5 Sherbrooke — a university town surrounded by mountains, rivers and lakes
- 6 Salaberry-de-Valleyfield — a historic town surrounded by water, canals. The city is nicknamed The Venice of Quebec.
- 1 Mont-Tremblant — a resort town focused on skiing, golfing, and lots of other winter and summer sports
Montreal is the economic and cultural powerhouse of Quebec. Much of the tourism in the rest of the southwest region is focused on weekend and summer get-aways for Montrealers. Montreal has do much to offer in terms of culture, cuisine, sports, recreation, entertainment, history and joie de vivre that it's hard for an outsider to understand what it is they need to get away from.
The rest of the region offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities for Montrealers and for visitors.
Via Rail has trains from:
- Toronto (6 per day, 5 hr)
- Ottawa (6 per day, 2 hr)
- Quebec City (5 per day, 3 hr 15 min)
- Halifax (3 per week, 22 hr 20 min)
Amtrak has a train from:
- New York City (1 per day, 11 hr)
- 255 km from Quebec City along Quebec Autoroute 20
- km from Toronto along Ontario Highway 401/Quebec Autoroute 20
- 200 km from Ottawa along Ontario Highway 417/Quebec Autoroute 40
- 372 mi (599 km) from New York City along New Jersey Highways 4 and 17, Interstate 87 through New York State, and Quebec Highway 15 from the Canada-US border
- Orleans Express has departures from Quebec City (3 hr)
- Megabus has buses from Toronto (6 hr)
Autoroutes (expressways or freeways) can be challenging for visitors, as most signs are in French, but most symbols are the same as in English Canada and the United States.
An important point about driving in this region is that on the Island of Montreal right turns on red lights are strictly prohibited. Turning right on a red light is allowed across the rest of Quebec (except at intersections where a sign indicates this is not permitted).
During the winter months, heavy snowfalls are common. In the aftermath of a snowstorm, snow removal begins with intimidatingly large snow plows and trucks clearing, chewing up, and transporting away the snow. The use of road salt to keep roads ice-free during severe winters takes its toll on the roadways, which are either heavily potholed or subject to perpetual construction.
By public transit
The island of Montreal has a subway and an extensive bus system run by the STM, while the surroundings is accessible by commuter trains and a bus system run by Exo (formerly RTM and AMT) with terminal at the Montreal Central Station (Gare Centrale) and at Lucien-L'Allier Station (both are accessible from the Montreal Metro). Commuter trains are handy for getting to suburbs and neighbouring towns.
Montreal has the second largest population of people who speak French as their mother tongue of any city in the world. As the cultural centre of French-speaking Canadians, and the economic centre of Quebec, it has a lots to offer. Montreal offers museums, art galleries, shopping professional sports (hockey, Canadian football, soccer), excellent restaurants and lovely nightlife. For a more relaxed pace, join the other flaneurs sipping wine or coffee in one of the city's many cafes. The Old Montreal quarter's 17th-19th century buildings, cobblestone streets, shops, galleries and restaurants make it a favourite amongst visitors.
For history buffs, the Montérégie region offers Fort Chambly, an 18th-century French fort, and Fort Lennox, a 19th-century British fort that can be visited on day-trips from Montreal.
A large part of Montreal's downtown has been redesigned to accommodate its many summer festivals that spill into the streets — jazz, pop, comedy, francophone music, LGBT Pride, are just the start.
Montreal has lots of hiking and cycling opportunities, especially on its riverside and canalside trails. Its "mountain" is a massive park,with lots of cycling and walking trails, and in winter, many of these trails are available for cross-country skiing.
The surrounding region offers small town delights, and lots of outdoor recreation opportunities. You'll find skiing, golfing, lakeside cottages, and winery tours throughout the Eastern Townships, Montérégie, Laurentians and Lanaudière.
In March and April, visit a cabane à sucre (sugar shack) in the Montérégie region. You can see how the maple syrup is collected, and these are also among the few places in Quebec where you can get a traditional rural meal.