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Montreal Mini Guide
Montreal in a Nutshell
Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and the 2nd largest in Canada. French is the city’s official language and it is spoken by 50% of the population – Montreal is the biggest French speaking community after Paris. The city takes its name from the 3 peaked hill in the city centre, Mont Royal.
How can I get There?
If arriving by air, you will land at Montreal-Trudeau Airport, a major hub in Canada. There are flights from many cities worldwide. To get to the city you would take the STM Express 747 bus from the airport. Alternatively, if you have a hire car, take the Autoroute 20, it can take up to an hour depending on traffic. If you are travelling from North America, you can use the Via rail service and Amtrak, or Greyhound and Voyager long distance coaches. Within the city, you can get around using the STM bus and subway system.
What is There to See in Montreal?
There are 51 historic sites in the city, so there is plenty to keep you busy there. Explore the narrow streets of the old town, the 17th and 18th century buildings give it a feel of an old European city - Just one of the sights is the Notre Dame Basilica. At the old port you can take a boat trip or just enjoy the waterfront park and its exhibits. Le Plateau has charming 19th century houses and tiny shops and is a good place for dining and shopping. Downtown Montreal is where you will find churches and museums but also 30km of underground arcades and malls – perfect for exploring in winter. Look out for the unique artwork expressing Quebec culture in the metro stations, each one is uniquely designed.
What Else can I do?
In winter, cross country ski or ice skate in one of the city’s parks - Parc du Mont and Parc La Fontaine are popular choices. In the summer, the parks are a good place to cycle, you can go to Parc Jean Drapeau and relax on an artificial beach or swim in the pools too. If you are feeling adventurous, you can go kayaking at Lachine Rapids, in Lasalle.
Tell me About the Food
Firstly, see the best in local produce at Atwater Market and then why not take a picnic to one of the many parks? For the classic Canadian dish of poutine (chips with gravy and cheese curds), head for La Banquise Restaurant in Plateau. Have a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s or try out the Indian buffets in Jean Talon Market. The city has restaurants that only serve desserts – you can eat ice cream at Bilbouquet or cheesecake at Rockaberry. There are a huge variety of restaurants in the city and Montreal has been voted the 2nd best dining city in North America.
Do They Have Festivals?
Many famous festivals are held in Montreal. The ‘Just For Laughs’ comedy festival in July, is one of the most well known. At Shakespeare in the Park you can see summer performances by Repercussion Theatre. Montreal en Lumiere is held in February and celebrates the city’s food and wine and performing arts scene. The world’s largest jazz festival is also hosted by Montreal – the International Jazz Festival takes place in June or July.
- The Crescent Street Grand Prix Festival runs from the 7th - 9th June. This is a free festival and is enjoyed by the locals as well as race fans and tourists from all over the world.
- On now and running until the end of July is the world renowned Cirque de Soleil's production of Amaluna, a love story. It's being hosted in old Montreal near the Vieux Port.