Located about six hours north of New York City by road, Montréal, Québec is the second largest city in Canada. It is also the second largest French-speaking city in the world next to Paris, France. Montréal has become a major contributor to culture, aerospace, technology, media, art, and more.
Although the official language of Montréal is French, it is one of the most bilingual cities in Canada. Therefore, roughly just as many residents speak French as they do French and English combined. It is not uncommon to be greeted by either a “hello” or “bonjour”, but you may want to use the French greetings if you are comfortable. In addition, this is where a French pocket guide can become helpful.
You’ll notice that all of the road signs, advertisements, and many other signs are only in French. However, it is not difficult to find English speakers. English may be more common in some neighborhoods over others. One of the many benefits of traveling to this city is the immersion into a diverse and rich culture.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport is home to the major Canadian and United States airlines. You can easily find your way from the airport to downtown Montréal with a 24-hour $10 Express Bus 747, or a $17-$40 taxi. If driving, one of the most common routes is a straight drive through Route 87 which takes you through New York from south to north. You will reach Autoroute 15 after the border which leads directly to Montréal. As with any major city, traffic can be a problem at peak hours and the streets may be unfamiliar. Furthermore, Megabus and multiple other lines offer service to Montréal.
Visit Old Montréal, its narrow pedestrian streets, and architecture dating back to the 17th century. This is where many of the museums are located, consequently. You can get a fantastic view of the St. Lawrence River by climbing up the clocktower at Victoria Pier. The Montréal Science Center and Pointe-à-Callière offer a great day of fun for those interested in modern science and history.
The downtown area has more museums while you can also find McGill University and the more urban areas. During bad weather, you may wish to take advantage of the underground shopping malls as well. There is more to Montréal’s downtown than what you see on the surface. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and McCord Museum are a just a few exhibitions in the city.
Finally, Parc Jean-Drapeau is an outdoor grassy area dedicated to concerts, the Montréal Casino, a large outdoor swimming pool, and an artificial beach. The pool is open from mid-June to late-August and costs up to $5 for adults. The beach is open throughout roughly the same days and costs a few dollars more.
Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium) Olympic Park is located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district at 4141 Avenue, Pierre-De Coubertin. It was home to the 1976 Summer Olympics. This stadium is very noticeable when looking at an overview of the city. You can’t miss the dome and tower. Stade Olympic, or Olympic Stadium, is the largest stadium in Canada by seating capacity. It is a regular and popular venue for both American Football and Soccer, Baseball, and a variety of other sports. The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup held a few matches here, including the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory against Germany in the semi-final.
Montréal offers multiple sporting opportunities for visitors as well. Ice skating is common. Beaver Lake on top of Mount Royal is one of the best places to skate from early December until mid-March. It is free if you bring your own skates. If not, rentals are $9. Parc du Mont-Royal also offers cross-country skiing with rentals available. The shore near the park in Lasalle offers an exciting opportunity for Kayaking in the rapids. In addition, Parc Jean-Drapeau offers a great path for bicycles, as do many parks in the city.
Montréal is well-known for its film festivals from various genres, countries, and cultures. Most notably, The World Film Festival. It takes place in late summer and features films from over 70 countries. Also around this time of year in late autumn, the POP Montréal International Music Festival features over 300 rising star acts. Also, the summer hosts Shakespeare in the Park at a variety of parks in the city.
One of the higher-ranking cities in North America for the best dining experience happens to be Montréal. It features an accumulation of cuisine from around the world. You will find fantastic and diverse food options on any budget. Don’t forget to check and see if a restaurant is “bring your own wine”. Rue (street) Saint-Denis and Ave (avenue) du Mont-Royal are some of the best places to find a restaurant.
Montréal has plenty of dance clubs and after-hours clubs. Time Supper Club on rue St. Jacques starts off as a restaurant, slowly transforming into a nightclub. The Trash Bar on Boulevard Saint-Laurent has a more skate and punk feel. On Tuesdays, Cafe Campus on rue Prince-Arthur est. sells pitches for $7. The drinking age in Québec is 18 and alcohol is served until 3 a.m. even at after-hours clubs. After-hours clubs are for those who can stay out all night, up until 10 a.m. to enjoy the club scene. Stereo and Circus, both on rue Sainte-Catherine, are two examples.
In conclusion, Montréal is a city for any time of year and any budget. The summer is probably the best time to enjoy the weather and outdoor events, but winter sports enthusiasts and tourists who don’t mind the cold will find plenty to do in winter as well. Now you can find your passport and cross the Saint Lawrence!