Quebec’s great metropolis, Montreal has become a magnet for tourists, thanks largely to its dynamism and highly developed and authentic way of life. Forming part of the province of Quebec, one of the biggest French-speaking enclaves outside France (and with its own very distinctive accent), Montreal is a city of contrasts and is quite unique in North America. Cosmopolitan yet welcoming, sophisticated yet laid back, intriguing yet accessible: Montreal has plenty to win over visitors!
Known for its harsh climate – hot, humid summers, short springs and autumns, and very cold winters – but mainly for its centuries-old ethnocultural diversity, the city is a delight to visit. So what are you waiting for? Hop on one of our 6 daily flights!
A city like no other
Montreal has built itself a reputation as a city where ancient blends with modern, a characteristic which adds to its beauty and appeal. And this mixture has produced some superb places and a mosaic of different neighbourhoods, which all combine to make it the beautiful city it is.
In addition to its old quarters, Montreal boasts the world’s largest underground city network: 33 km of subterranean tunnels providing indoor connections between various buildings, offices, residential complexes, shopping centres, universities, luxury residences and hotels. The underground tunnels are also lined with a wide range of restaurants and shops, from the chic and sophisticated to the cheap and down to earth – all this to escape the severe Quebec winter. So why not take a trip to the city and see for yourself!
Before you head off to explore Quebec’s largest city, you might be interested to know that, in 2006, the city was awarded UNESCO “City of Design” status, an opportunity for Montreal to develop its creativity in the field of design. So, if you’re a fan of modern architecture, Montreal is the place for you!
Explore the city’s iconic places
Montreal is a melting pot: of cultures, languages, flavours... with its rich racial mix and famous open-mindedness, Quebec’s largest city is full of surprises. From the eccentricity of the gay village to the tranquillity of the Parc du Mont-Royal, via the many shopping thoroughfares, the city’s streets are a great place for a stroll.
Whether you are visiting the city for a family break, to dance to the rhythm of its nightlife and festivals, to head out and explore the natural environment or sample its rich, varied and internationally renowned cuisine an unforgettable time awaits you in Montreal!
Come and explore the Quartier des Spectacles [entertainment district] where numerous festivals, celebrations and concerts take place on the Place des Festivals and the Place des Arts; the Gay Quarter, also known as the “Gay Village”, very trendy and wonderfully eccentric; and finally, don’t miss the “Indoor City”, or Underground City, with its maze of tunnels housing 30 km of shops, restaurants, etc.
Poutine, a typical Quebecois dish consisting of French fries and fresh Cheddar cheese curds, covered with gravy;
Tourtière, a meat pie (containing a mixture of different meats) which is often made during the Christmas and New Year period;
Fricot, a traditional Acadian dish consisting of a chicken or fish stew with various vegetables (such as potatoes and carrots);
Pain de viande, a mixture of minced meat, breadcrumbs soaked in milk, onions and eggs;
Bagels, an integral part of Canada’s culinary culture, and a Montreal staple, are made from yeast dough and are sometimes sprinkled with poppy or sesame seeds. They are sliced in half and can be served with cream cheese (such as Philadelphia), salmon, tomatoes, etc. Sweet versions are also available;
Queues de castor, pastries made with whole-wheat dough, which are stretched (to resemble a beaver’s tail, hence their French name) and then fried in canola oil. They can be served with a variety of toppings such as chocolate, sugar, cinnamon or garlic butter;
Tarte aux pacanes, a typically Canadian dessert consisting of a corn syrup and pecan nut cream.
Calendar of major events
The TransAmériques Festival, in the Place des Arts, has been showcasing dance and theatre arts since 2007. It provides an opportunity for artists and audiences to meet and interact.
The Francofolies de Montréal: almost a million spectators; 1,000 artists from a dozen different countries; more than 250 shows, including 180 free, open-air performances; 7 outdoor stages. It is now considered the biggest music festival in the French-speaking world.
The Fête du Canada (Canada Day), on 1 July, is the ultimate family day out. All day long, the quaysides of Montreal’s Vieux-Port are abuzz with all kinds of activities. Don’t miss the official ceremonies, performances by local musicians and the evening firework display.
The Festival International de Jazz, now in its thirtieth year, is recognised by Guinness World Records as the biggest jazz festival on the planet. For ten days each year the French-speaking metropolis becomes a mecca for jazz enthusiasts.
The Juste pour rire festival brings together comedians from around the world and includes indoor comedy shows, street theatre, screenings of comedy films and television programmes. It’s the biggest festival of its kind.
Montréal Complètement Cirque is an 11-day circus arts festival. Held every year, it offers an exciting programme of circus performances across the city (streets, parks, theatres and pavements).
The Rogers Cup, a prestigious professional tennis tournament organised by Tennis Canada, is recognised around the world as one of the best-organised events on the tennis circuit.
The Festiblues, an annual Montreal music festival featuring 4 days of blues, folk and rock music concerts. Its 10-year collaboration with the Blues en Seine festival in France has enabled French blues artists to perform in Quebec.
The Festival des Films du Monde showcases the best of world cinema and promotes independent and innovative filmmaking. Its aim is to promote cultural diversity and mutual understanding between different peoples and to discover and nurture new talent.
The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma aims to disseminate and develop new trends in the field of cinema and new media and acts as a launchpad for original and innovative works.
Must-sees during your visit
Vieux-Montréal with its 17th-century European-style architecture, cobbled streets, historic buildings and typical little restaurants. Here, you will find attractions such as the famous Musée Point-à-Caillière, which showcases the city’s archaeology and history; public squares such as the Place d’Armes and Place Jacques-Cartier, both popular haunts for tourists; the Marché Bonsecours, one of the city’s most iconic buildings, which once housed the public market; and the magnificent Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, a gallery of religious art, whose ornate decoration is beyond compare.
The Vieux-Port, one of the most visited places in Quebec. Formerly the city’s social and cultural hub, it extends for over two kilometres and offers visitors more than 30 cultural activities throughout the year.
The Parc du Mont-Royal, one of Montreal’s biggest parks, was created in 1876 and is thought to be the oldest protected area in Quebec. Its two viewing terraces, high above the city centre, offer a stunning panoramic view of the metropolis. You can stroll around the Lac aux Castors or enjoy the cultural events (particularly the Tam-Tams festivals) which are organised here during the summer.
The Gay Village. Situated in the Ville-Marie district, and centred on the Rue Sainte-Catherine, the Village is home to the city’s trendiest bars and clubs. The gay quarter is one of Quebec’s major cultural centres and boasts a number of entertainment venues.
The Rue Sainte Catherine, Montreal’s longest street, extends for over 11 km. It is also the biggest shopping street in Canada with around 1,200 stores, including all the big international chains. A useful tip: a number of buildings on the street are connected to the underground city network.
Montreal’s Parc Olympique, the venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics and a great source of pride for the people of Quebec. The main attractions for tourists are the Tour du Parc, which is the tallest inclined tower in the world, the Stade Olympique with its unique architecture, and the Esplanade Financière Sun Life, which hosts large-scale cultural events.
The Place des Arts, right in the heart of the city, is the largest cultural complex in Canada and is considered the place to be for fans of Montreal’s summer festivals.
The Jardin Botanique, situated just to the north of the Parc Olympique, is open all year round and is one of the biggest botanical gardens in the world. It covers 75 hectares and its 10 exhibition greenhouses and 30 themed gardens are home to no fewer than 22,000 species of plants.
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