Which Guide is the Best for Planning a Trip to Montréal?

It's day seven (for me) in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my Christmas/New Year travels to Canada – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter is G, so I will be talking about the Guides I used for Montréal and Québec City trip planning. Feel free to follow along as I make my way through the alphabet this month! :)

Unlike previous vacations, our trip to Montréal and Québec City was mostly planned on the Amtrak traveling between New York City and Montréal. We had very little internet, so I relied on books I had purchased from Barnes and Noble the weekend before Christmas – The Michelin Green Guide: Montréal and Québec City and Frommer's Montréal Day-By-Day.

Prior to purchasing, my husband and I spent hours at the local Barnes and Noble as I looked through travel books and researched what would be most helpful for my travel planning, on the go, with no internet. I had done due research online, but what can you really tell from somebody's recommendation? Good book? Yes? … But is it a great book? Will it be the best travel guide ever known to man for that location? Will it have addresses and maps? Will there be lesser-known travel locations for people who like to explore places that are "off the beaten path"? What about pictures? – Do the travel guides list great places to photograph at the destination?

As you can see, I had (and continue to have) high expectations for my travel guides. I wanted the best of the best, and I wanted a travel guide that would do everything and more for me than the internet does. And, of course, I needed up-to-date guides. What good would a 2000 travel guide do for me in 2016/2017?

For my trip, I chose Frommer's Montréal Day-By-Day and The Michelin Green Guide: Montréal and Québec City.

Let me put it to you straight: I devoured the Frommer's Guide. At 183 pages, Montréal Day-By-Day is small and thin enough to be carried with you during your travels without weighing you down or adding bulk to your luggage.Along with sliding easily into a small purse or coat pocket, you could potentially mark all of your travel locations on the handy little map that comes inside the book and leave the book at home. (Though I must forewarn you that addresses, especially when you don't have the internet, can be very helpful. Sometimes that little dot on the map can be deceiving! –– Also, the map the book comes with does not already have locations listed. You will have to use Google or other means to find those locations yourself!)

Now, moving on to the Michelin Guide. This book is also tall but much thicker coming in at just over 400 pages. Ideally, you will use this book to learn about your location – the history, the culture, the language. I'm going to be real with you – the abundance of information was definitely overwhelming for me. I started with the Frommer's Day-By-Day Guide spending countless hours (read: five) devouring the details and the hour-by-hour walkable recommendations, so when I got to the Michelin guide I was ready to be dome with my research.

If you are like me and just want to know what there is to do in a specific location, skip the Michelin guide. There is no more in the Michelin Guide than the Frommer's Guide. However, if you like to get a sense of culture before you visit a place, the Michelin Guide will be far better for you.

Now, if you are wondering why you should consider the Frommer's Guide over the Michelin one, here's why: The Frommer's guide will make it easier for you to plan out an itinerary of these to do, hour by hour, day by day. Interested in art? They have an itinerary for that. History? One for that too. Or maybe you are into shopping… You get the idea! Do you have two days? 24 hours? A week? Are you planning on going out of the city? Frommer's keeps details to a minimum, makes recommendations for what they believe will be your ideal trip and leaves it at that. Nice. Simple. Easy. For me, that's what I wanted.

I should mention that neither book offers completely up to date listings. (They are books after all!) I also didn't like that neither offered the address of the places they had listed in the book. Why? I mean the books are going to go out of date anyway, right?!

Other things I didn't like:

The maps. Frommer's at least had a pocket map so you could match up the maps in the book to the pocket map. I just got confused looking at the Michelin maps. And don't even get me started on looking at the Michelin map and trying to match it up to the Frommer's map! All of the confusion. As it turns out, neither book provides ALL of the information about a location on their maps. Google maps are really your best bet.

Pictures. If I'm going to go somewhere, I want to get beautiful images! Because I can. Neither Frommer's not Michelin offer detailed pictures so that I could see what my options were. Of course, neither book is sold as a photographer's manual either.

Now, if you are looking for a picture manual (or at the very least a sort-of-guide with lots of pictures), you may want to consider the Ulysses Québec In Mind (or Montréal In Mind). These books are rather thin at just under 100 pages, but oh the pictures! You will wish you had days to explore the outskirts of these two cities!

While I can't tell you which guide will be the best guide for you, hopefully, I've given you an idea of what's available and what will be the best for planning your rendezvous in Canada.

When you plan travel, do you use guidebooks? Or do you use some other method? Perhaps google? Or "fly by the seat of your pants?" ;) Let me know what you think the best method is for travel planning!

Buy Frommer's Montréal Day-By-Day here, The Michelin Green Guide for Montréal and Québec City here and the Ulysses Québec City In Mind … in Québec City. :)


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