What to do in Montreal?

Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and has the largest French speaker’s population outside of Paris. It is a Canadian city with a very hip attitude, a big heart, and a French soul. Montreal enchants its visitors with an unpretentious love of festivals and good food as well as an old-world charm. It has become a favorite getaway destination for friends of mine who run a Calgary furnace repair company. The French were the first to arrive here, although the British would later claim ownership yet its elegant sophistication still lingers like a perfume.

Stroll the old city’s cobblestone streets, order a delicious meal in the café, and soak up the architecture and history of the area. Montreal is one of North America’s oldest urban areas as some buildings in this city dates back to the 17th century.

One of the greatest places to discover Montreal’s famous food scene is the Old City. Visit one of the bistros here to order Poutine, a local’s favorite. Or you can follow your nose to one of the many wood-fired ovens in the city to try a Montreal bagel. Walk off the delicious food by strolling around Jacques-Cartier Place. It was named after the explorer that claimed Canada for France.

Mark Twain nicknamed Montreal “The City of a Hundred Bell Towers” when he visited in the 19th century. There are many magnificent churches in this city especially the Notre Dame Basilica, the Josephs Oratory, and the Christ Church Cathedral.

Amidst all Montreal’s history, it is a thoroughly hip city. It hosts over 100 festivals throughout the year and there’s always something cool going on if you are in this city between events. The Quartier Latin is famous for its artistic clubs, cafes, and atmosphere. Or you can visit Le Village which is a great place to party as it closes to cars in summer. Plateau Mont-Royal is another great area where you will discover colorful murals, funky cafes, and groovy boutiques.

Head downtown to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art and the Golden Square Mile for a different kind of art. Like Montreal itself, the museum combines great elan with the old and new. Admire exquisite works of the impressive collection of international and local contemporary art as well as the works of the great masters.

Even mother nature in Montreal is chic. Get outside to enjoy the city the way the locals do by hiking up Mont-Royal. It is a 764-foot green jewel that gave the city its name and rises from the downtown area. Or you can discover Montreal bio-dome where five of America’s most beautiful ecosystems have been recreated in what used to be the Olympic velodrome.

Visit the Montreal Insectarium for more jewel-like color. It is North America’s largest insect museum. The Montreal Botanical Garden is right next door. Stroll in the Japanese Zen Garden among the tranquil ponds or you can experience the yin and yang principle in the Chinese Garden.

Your trip to Montreal can’t be complete without taking a trip to the city’s beloved amusement park, La Ronde. Here you can take one of the heart-stopping roller coasters or a flume ride. As the sun sets, head back downtown to discover Montreal after dark. Enjoy smoky blues, cool jazz, or wind down with something a bit quirky.

With its funky present and a French past, Montreal is a city with a feeling and a flavor that is very easy to love but hard to define.

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