Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Centric-and Mid Venturers give strongest ratings, along with many Centric Authentics
Did you know … ?
- Just more than half of Montrealers are bilingual in French and English.
- The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery has more than 1 million graves.
- Hockey originated in Montreal, in 1875, with a game that ended in a fight.
- There are more than 400 islands in the greater Montreal urban area.
- More than 80% of fur coats made in Canada are manufactured in Montreal.
Where two languages meet
Imagine a metropolis of about 3.8 million people, a place where roughly half the population is fluent in French and English. This city sits on an island in the middle of a great river quite close to the U.S. border. Even better, this city offers an array of indoor entertainments and outdoor activities year-round.
Of course, the place is Montreal, the capital of North American bilingualism. It is well known as the city that brings French culture to America’s doorstep, but it offers plenty more than the chance to practice a second language.
The city hosts some 90 festivals, most notably the International Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs/Juste pour Rire comedy fest and the World Film Festival. All that gaiety is complemented by a full range of musical and theatrical performances, for an average of more than 20 shows every night of the year.
Sports can mean spectator events such as hockey or football games, or the Grand Prix of Canada. The city that sits in the St. Lawrence also offers choice opportunities to play on or in the water; in addition, winter sports — tobogganing, ice skating or cross-country skiing — are available without leaving the island.
Above all, Montreal is the most prominent of the Francophone destinations in the New World, with all that that means in the way of culture, style and the world-renowned French way with food. The French connection is also preserved visually in a fine historic district, Vieux-Montreal (Old Montreal).
In addition, Montreal is noted for its more than 300 churches. Humorist Mark Twain is quoted as saying you “couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window.”
Visitors applaud Montreal as a safe and clean destination, with a convenient subway system, besides. Americans also visit because the city is close by — an hour’s drive from crossings into New York or Vermont and roughly an hour by air from key cities in the Northeast.
Winters are cold, which is why most visitors choose other seasons. But Montrealers have their underground city, with close to 20 miles of pedestrian walkways linking buildings, indoor parking and the public transportation system.
Things to do for Venturers
- Montreal is built around a mountain (Mount Royal, whence the city’s name). Go cross-country skiing or tobogganing on this mountain. Or, ice skate there.
- Go jetboating on the Lachine Rapids, which are a series of rapids in the St. Lawrence between the island of Montreal and the river’s south shore.
- Get a taste of New France (meaning, effectively, colonial Quebec) at Le Cabaret du Roy. Dinner includes Amerindian dishes, Quebec produce and grilled game.
- Cycle the 70-kilometer (43-mile) West Island Heritage Bicycle Trail as a way to see the sights in a number of villages: Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Sainte-Genevieve, Beaconsfield, Baie-d’Urfe, Dorval and Ile-Bizard.
- Bike or rollerblade along pathways that line the St. Lawrence. Or, don scuba gear and dive into the river.
- For another idea, shove off onto the St. Lawrence in an inflatable raft for a good look at beluga and blue whales.
Things to do for Centrics
- Ice skate on the outdoor artificial rink at the Old Port of Montreal. Year-round ice skating also is on offer at the Atrium Le 1000.
- Take French lessons. This is the world’s second-largest French-speaking city, after Paris.
- Bring your bicycle to the city that claims, with reason, to be the best cycling city in North America. Montreal boasts 217.5 miles of bike paths, which are in turn linked to some 2,500 miles of cycling routes throughout the province of Quebec. Or, participate in the eight-day Montreal Bike Fest. Also, drop in at La Maison des Cyclistes, where you will find the Bicicletta cafe and, next door, a boutique selling guidebooks and maps for cyclists.
- Dine with ghosts at Montreal’s Haunted House, a Victorian mansion made spooky by appropriate theatrics.
- Alternatively, join a “ghost hunt,” which means spending your evening, with maps and lanterns in hand, searching for clues and shades of characters from the city’s past. Or, sign on for a traditional guided ghost walk.
- Have dinner at the Robin des Bois (i.e., Robin Hood), where most employees are volunteers and profits go to charity.
Things to do for Authentics
- Before or after your gaming time, attend the cabaret dinner show at the Casino de Montreal.
- Laugh till your sides hurt at the summer Just for Laughs/Juste pour Rire comedy festival. Or, attend the International Jazz Festival.
- Hit the links. There are scores of golf courses in and around Montreal.
- Sign on for a sightseeing tour in the city led by a costumed historic personage.
- Seek out fine dining opportunities. And, for variety, join a dinner cruise or picnic in the Parc Jean-Drapeau, site of Expo ’67.
- Take in a sports event. Choices include the Canadiens of the National Hockey League, the Expos baseball team and, for football, the Alouettes.
For more information, consult Tourisme Montreal at www.tourisme-montreal.org