Top experiences in Montreal
Imagine a place where you start a sentence in French and finish it in English, where the national dish includes French fries and gravy, and driving an hour outside the city means you can strap on your skis. Well, that pretty describes Montreal - on the surface at least.
The island of Montreal has been inhabited for over 1,000 years. In 1611, Samuel de Champlain founded a fur trading post called “La Place Royale” (The Royal Place) on the site of a former Iroquois village called Hochelaga (Yeah, that’s right, Plymouth -- we were here first). The small trading post was ravaged by disease weather but the colony lived on. In 1642, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve became governor of the fort Ville-Marie (City of Mary), a Roman Catholic mission colony - Montreal was born. The city was later re-named for the Mont-Royal (mont réal in Renaissance French), the hill that sits smack dab in the middle of the city. After the English defeated the French in 1763, they took possession of the city. This mixed heritage of French and English has been the source of tensions ever since as French-speakers fought to retain their language and culture in the face of expanding assimilation. But in recent decades, the dividing line that was Boulevard St. Laurent (a.k.a. The Main) - with English-speakers to the West and French-speakers to the East - has gradually faded away, revealing Montreal’s true nature: a roiling pot of culture, conflict, energy and diversity.
Visit the Oratoire Saint Joseph - one of the largest churches in North America - to experience Montreal’s devout Catholic past, or explore Downtown for some of its famed debauchery. People-watch the best and brightest on the scenic downtown McGill University Campus. Experience some of the best art collections in the world at the Musée des Beaux Arts, or catch the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at Place des Arts. Need to impress your other half? Montreal’s food scene is hard to match, from foie-gras poutine at (yes, that’s a thing) at Au Pied de Cochon to pasta stuffed with duck ragu at Graziella. And just in case you’re still hungry, don’t forget to stop by Schwartz’s Deli for a legendary smoked meat sandwich. Dance the night up and down Boulevard Saint. Laurent, or meet up for a mellow drink on a sunny terrace on Boulevard Saint Denis. Need to wind down? Take a coffee break in the cozy coffee shops of the Mile End. Dig around through piles of vintage clothing and furniture at Kitsch-N-Swell or roam around the cobblestone streets of the Vieux Montréal (Old Montreal) for some unique boutique finds. Finally, drink in the sunset vista at one of the two Mont-Royal lookouts, or from the top of the 1976 Olympic stadium.
The best part? If you fall in love, you don’t have to leave. The cost of living is surprisingly cheap.
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