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Travel tips

Prepare yourself for an
unforgettable stay in Québec.

Enjoy the ultimate Saint Lawrence experience!

Mr Pinchot Bakery - Plateau Mont-Royal (credit : Tourisme Montréal, Stéphan Poulin)

Languages spoken 

French is the official language of the province of Québec however English is also commonly spoken. Many Québécois are bilingual and in some cases even speak a third language (over 20% of the population of Montréal is trilingual!). You will be greeted in French and English in the majority of businesses throughout the province of Québec.

Montréal is the second largest francophone city in the world, after Paris. It is also the most bilingual city in North America. If you don’t speak French, a simple "Bonjour!" is all you need to say.

Climate

The majority of cities in the province of Québec are characterized by a humid continental climate, with four clearly defined seasons and significant gaps in temperature between them. Although summer is warm, winter sees lots of snow.

Seasonal temperatures (minimum and maximum):

CityJanuaryAprilJulyOctober
Montréal -12 / -5 ° C 2 / 11 ° C 17 / 26 ° C 5 / 12 ° C
Québec -17 / -7 ° C -1 / 7 ° C 13 / 25 ° C 1 / 10 ° C
Gaspé -17 / -6 ° C -3 / 6 ° C 10 / 23 ° C 0 / 10 ° C

Pack clothing that is appropriate for the season

You must keep in mind the places you plan to visit. For example, summer is much more humid in the Montréal region than elsewhere in Québec, and winter is a little longer in the East than in the Southeast.

Summer (mid-June to mid-September):
  • Hot and sometimes humid days
  • Possible heat-wave in Montréal
  • Evenings can be cool
  • Cool or even cold wind possible on excursions in the estuary and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and on mountain expeditions
In fall (mid-September to mid-December):
  • Pleasant weather but cooler than in summer
  • Windbreaker and raincoat needed for rainy days
  • Snowfall possible as of November (particularly for Eastern Québec)
  • Coat, boots, scarf, and gloves needed when the mercury drops below 0° Celcius.

Customs and immigration

To enter Canada:

  • U.S. citizens:
    Choice of proof of citizenship:
    • Birth certificate and piece of photo identification
    • Passport
  • Returning to the United States from Canada:
    Present one of the following:
    • Passport
    • Air Nexus card
    • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document
  • Other countries:
    The following must be presented:
    • A valid passport
    • A visa, depending on the country of origin

Business hours

Boutiques, shopping centres, and most stores are open daily

  • Monday to Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday and Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.

Some businesses open earlier and close later, such as pharmacies and supermarkets. A few shopping centres are open on weeknights until 9:00 p.m. Banks follow more restricted business hours.

Statutory and school holidays

In Québec, most businesses, government offices, banks and stores are closed on the following days:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Good Friday and Easter Monday
  • Journée nationale des patriotes (third Monday in May)
  • Fête nationale (June 24)
  • Canada Day (July 1)
  • Labour Day (first Monday in September)
  • Thanksgiving (second Monday in October)
  • Christmas (December 25)

Many tourist attractions remain open on statutory holidays. However, it is recommended that this be verified beforehand.

Currency, cash and exchange office

The legal currency is the Canadian dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. It comes in bills of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars as well as in coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 cents and 1 and 2 dollars.

The following are accepted:

  • Most major credit cards (Visa, Master Card and American Express)
  • Traveller’s cheques – accepted by some major establishments:
    • Hotels
    • Restaurants
    • Stores
    • Exchange offices in major Québec cities and airports
    • Banks (open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday to Friday)

Withdrawals can be made at most automated teller machines (connected to the Cirrus, Plus System or Interac networks) at any time, seven days per week.

Healthcare

A medical insurance policy is a must!

Foreign travellers must pay their own medical expenses. Travellers bringing their medications with them should consult the Canada Border Services Agency.

At pharmacies, medications are sold only to those who hold a prescription from a physician who is a member of the Collège des médecins du Québec. In case of a medical emergency, dial 911 from any telephone.

Taxes, service and tipping

Québec Sales Tax (TVQ – 9.5%) and federal Goods and Services Tax (GST– 5%), are added to the sale price of most products and services.

Tips:

It is customary to add between 10% and 15% to the amount of the bill (before taxes) for the following services:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Taxis
  • Hairdressers
Bell persons and baggage porters:
  • In general, tip $1 per bag

Time zones

Québec switches to Eastern Daylight Savings Time (summer time zone - second Sunday in March) and switches back to goes back to Eastern Standard Time (winter time zone - last Sunday in October).

Time difference compared to Greenwich meantime

  • Summer (daylight savings): 4 hours behind
  • Winter (Eastern Standard Time): 5 hours behind

Exception: The Îles de la Madeleine, however, adopts Atlantic Daylight Time, which is one hour ahead of the rest of the province of Québec.

Enjoy your stay with us, and make the most of the ports of call along the Saint Lawrence, as well as the myriad activities they have to offer!

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