Montreal Travel Guide

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St. Joseph's Oratory/ L'Oratoire St-Joseph

St. Joseph's Oratory/ L'Oratoire St-Joseph

Margarita Levasseur

Though an incredible city in its own right, Montreal is both much more and less than this. When you visit here, you will be introduced to a whole new way of living life to the fullest. The locals here call it "joie de vivre" which literally translated means "joy of living" and that is what Montréal's people seem to be best at. More than anything else Montréal has a fantastic atmosphere, and possesses a vibrancy and excitement you won't find anywhere else. Culture seems to ooze out of the sidewalks. Montréal is a mélange of ethnic and national influences that have all contributed to what makes it such a special place. Enjoy watching life go by from an outdoor café, shop in an underground shopping mall, dine at a fine French restaurant and follow with a jazz club.

The seasons in Montréal are distinct the summers are nice and have a very beautiful view. Summer is usually quite hot and sunny; it can sometimes be unbearably humid. Fall is a little cooler but still very pleasant and has the added bonus of the beautiful autumn leaves, which are numerous in a city full of maple trees.

Winters are cold and snowy, but Montréal is well prepared for this, there is a vast underground city of shopping malls linked to hotels, office buildings and metro (Montréal's subway) stations. If you wanted to, you need never go outdoors. Spring revitalizes the city, the days are long and fairly warm so this is an ideal time to visit.

Montréal is a major transportation centre. Highways and railways converge here, so there are connections by bus and rail to all over Canada and the U.S.A. Montréal is a relatively short drive from many of the major population centres of the Eastern Seaboard, and Ontario. Montréal has one international airport with direct flights to all major Canadian and most U.S. cities. There are also flights to many cities in Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico. The primary airport, Trudeau International (YUL), serves all scheduled and charter flights, while a second airport, Mirabel (YMX), is used for cargo flights.

Montréal is a city of festivals and these occur throughout the year. At the end of January is the Fête de Neiges (Festival of Snow) with skating, ice carving and tube slides. There is a major St Patrick's Day Parade, which is a tribute to the large part of the city's population celebrating their Irish origins. In the early summer there is the International Fireworks Festival one of the best in the world. This is held at La Ronde, located on the Parc des Îles a series of islands in the St. Lawrence which were originally developed for Expo '67 (the World's Fair of 1967.) In early June there is the Canadian Grand Prix, one of only two Formula 1 races in North America. On June 24th is Fête Nationale, formerly known as St Jean Baptiste Day, this is Québec's national holiday and includes a big parade. At the end of June and the beginning of July is the world renowned Montréal Jazz Festival. Many of the concerts are free and are held at various venues throughout the city. This is a big attraction so it is advisable to book accommodations early. Equally famous is the Just-for-Laughs Comedy Festival. This is a bilingual event with over 200 performers and over half a million attendees. Some acts are free and for others an admission is charged. Another event you might want to keep in mind is the Du Maurier Classic: a fairly large Tennis Tournament featuring top competitors. At the beginning of August there is Montréal's International Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival, which is a fun time for everybody. In early fall there is the Montreal World Film Festival, held at several theatres around town. An interesting sub-event is the Fant-Asia Film Festival, which features some of the top Asian films you won't find in your typical local cinema.

You cannot possibly leave Montréal without sampling the local specialty - the Montréal Smoked Meat Sandwich. Montréal's smoked meat is world famous, it is usually aged naturally without chemicals and additives. Thick slices of this meat between fresh rye bread with a generous dab of mustard and a pickle on the side and you have the perfect sandwich. There are numerous delis serving this splendid delicacy throughout Montreal, but among the more popular are Ben's, Schwartz's and Dunn's. It is a matter of local debate as to which of these serves the best sandwich, but make sure to try them all and decide for yourself!

Another local food item that is known all over Québec is poutine. For junk food connoisseurs only! A bed of homemade French fries is covered in cheese curds (fresh cheese) and smothered in gravy (sauce brune or sauce barbeque as it is called in québécois). Two places for poutine in Montréal are Chez Claudette, at the corner of Laurier near St. Denis, and the Montréal Pool Room, an authentic grungy fast food place on St. Laurent Blvd. south of Ste. Catherine Street (that used to have pool tables but dosen't anymore). Chez Claudette is known for its creative interpretations in the poutine genre. They have classics like poutine italien (with spagetti sauce), and more.

A variety of tours are available from several companies including Visites de Montreal DMC and Caleche (horse-drawn carriage) Tours but for a taste of Montreal's hidden food and history gems the best options are Matt's Montreal Tours and a Foodie's Tour of Little Italy. These tours take you inside the city to meet it's people, eat their food and soak up their history.

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at:


July 11, 2010 change by reveille

June 26, 2006 change by giorgio

October 16, 2006 change by d.j. damien

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