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September, Portland OR, or Quebec City?
July 2, 2014 8:16 PM   Subscribe

In September Ms J0 and I would like to travel to either Portland (Oregon) or Quebec City. We would like to stay for 5 or so days. We can get to Portland for less than half the cost of getting to Quebec City. So, help us decide, please.

We like dining, drinking, walking, art, music, gardens, etc. We are pretty much liberals, in good physical fitness, early 30s.

Outdoor activities such as hiking are not really on the must have section of the agenda. We live in the country and thus walk in the great wild everyday and do love it but also are great fans city-walking / flaneuring and this is an activity on which we would like to center our trip.
posted by J0 to Travel & Transportation around Quebec, QC (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know if Quebec City is really a five-day destination. Most people I know who've been have done it as a day trip from Montreal, or maybe a weekend thing. If you'd be traveling from further away than the US Northeast, I don't know if the travel would be worth it.

Montreal, on the other hand, is lovely, and perfect for what you want in a vacation.
posted by Sara C. at 9:00 PM on July 2


I can't speak to the virtues of Quebec City, but September is one of the best months of the year for Portland as far as weather is concerned. Also, Portland is well supplied with all the things you like.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:05 PM on July 2


I adore Quebec City and think you should visit at some stage, but as much as it pains me to say it, Sara C. is right: You'll be pretty bored by the third or fourth night. I just spent four nights there recently and had that experience, despite loving the city.

Now, if you plan a day trip somewhere nearby (Ile d'Orleans, for example), you can probably make five days work out just about right.

If you do decide to go to Quebec, shoot me me-mail and I'll give you some restaurant recommendations.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:56 PM on July 2


I can't speak to Quebec City but September is the best month of the year for Portland. Absolutely beautiful weather all month long. I'd also highly suggest a day or two-day trip to Bend, Oregon to enjoy some views of the mountains on the drive and some nice pints of beer in the city.
posted by pwb503 at 11:14 PM on July 2


If you end up choosing Portland you'll be right in time to catch the migration of Vaux's Swifts which happens during the entire month of September! Pack a picnic -- you can pick up a salad and some pastries from St. Honore down the block (best Salad Niçoise and grab some chouquettes if they still have any) -- and grab a blanket and you got yourself a night!
posted by funkiwan at 2:03 AM on July 3


If you go to Portland you will be staying in the States. If you go to Quebec City it will be much more like going abroad. If you like history there will be plenty of buildings and monuments and museums showing stuff from the 1600's. I'm pretty sure the colonial history in Portland does not begin until a century or so later than Quebec City.

Ville de Quebec is francophone. There will be plenty of people who can speak English but the default assumption is that they can't. You will really feel like you went somewhere beyond your backyard if you go to Quebec.

My vote is for Quebec City. But then not everybody likes history and being in a place where they don't speak your language. It all boils down to if you have a strong enough desire to do the international travel thing compared to taking a nice vacation. So here's a question:

If someone gave you $10,000 would you be tempted to spend it on a trip to Europe? Or would you have a bunch of other desires that take precedence? If the idea of $10,000 makes you start thinking of sun-bleached small towns in Greece and Beer Fests in Germany and the gardens of Versailles I would say that you would love Quebec City enough to make it worth the extra expense. But if your gut feeling is that that ten thousand would replace the siding on the house or go a long way towards a new car you are better off in Portland, which, if the reports of people above are anything to go on, is a very nice place to visit indeed.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:55 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I recently moved out of Quebec City after living there for 7 years and it's a great city. However, as others have said, it's a 2-3 day city.

I do not have recommendations as far as restaurants are concerned, as I'm not a fancy eater. But if you have specific questions, feel free to send me a message.
posted by kag at 6:13 AM on July 3


I've been to both & I enjoyed them both, for different reasons. Portland felt more homey, and yes hipstery, people are more friendly and there is LOTS of shopping & eating. We were there for 2 days and it was not enough.

Quebec city is Little Europe and there are some good-ish food destinations (Brunch at Chateau Frotenac and we ate rabbit at Lapin Sauté); there are antiquing areas that I wish we'd spent more time in but there is also lots of tourist crap that feels kinda hollow. I didn't find the shopping very good unless you like maple syrup and dream catchers. Many people do speak some English but it is not as bilingual as Montreal by a long stretch. In Quebec City you're going into the old town mainly and that old town is fairly small; the area surrounding is meh like any other built-out suburb. 2-3d is plenty unless you research lots of cute little things to do (macarons from Point G! art gallery!) or plan on sitting in a cafe for hours at a time.

You could consider 3d in Montreal + train to Quebec City for 2 d(3h, $60-$90; viarail) but then Montreal is huge with lots of artsy character not unlike Portland and you may find 3d not enough!

So I would ask myself whether shopping and food >> history and foreign feel.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:57 AM on July 3


Quebec City is more romantic for sure though.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:00 AM on July 3


Quebec City is lovely, but there is really not enough there for 5 days. Either mix it up with a Montreal trip (easy to get to/from) or go to Portland.
posted by jeather at 8:21 AM on July 3


How far is your travel distance to Quebec city and how far is it to Portland? For five days I would choose whichever one is closer.
posted by mskyle at 9:15 AM on July 3


We are about midway between the two cities. We would be flying either way, and travel time is not really a big deal, and the 5 day thing is just an idea as well.

The original plan was to go to QC and then maybe rent a car and go to Montreal and also out into the countryside but then we found a really great Portland airfare deal (half price of what I can find to Quebec / Montreal) and thought hmm maybe the Lord of the Land of Port interveneth... so I thought I'd ask for help.

The Franco-ness of Quebec is what attracted us. But the Pacific NW is great too!

We spend virtually no money on dining out while at home so when we travel we like to indulge in that. Portland seems like a good food place.
posted by J0 at 1:02 PM on July 3


I haven't been to Portland in a good long while, but food in QC and Montreal is really good and quite reasonably priced compared to most other cities.

The other advice in this thread seems accurate to me too.
posted by sauril at 2:39 PM on July 3


You're probably already aware, but just in case: Portland has world-class wine country less than an hour away in the Willamette Valley (Dundee, McMinnville, etc.) if that's your thing.
posted by sapere aude at 2:54 PM on July 3


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