Before leaving for France one of the best ways to warm up to the French culture is to spend a couple of days in the beautiful city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is also a great tourist destination in its own right, There are so many things to do in Montreal, you won't want to leave.
Montreal is one of Canada's most beautiful and romantic cities.
Located on the St. Lawrence River, it has a certain European vibe. Cafés line the sidewalks of Old Montreal, bicycles are readily available for rent, grand historical buildings have stood the test of time and old Cathedrals are the cornerstone of French culture and site seeing.
A long weekend in Montreal is the perfect getaway and here are a few things that will help you to occupy your time while visiting our relaxed French speaking city this summer.
Things to do in Montreal
1. Old Montreal – Not to be missed. Old Montreal feels as though you are in Europe. Cobblestone streets, Victorian architecture and classic street lamps line the walkways. Watch street performers and musicians as you enjoy a coffee on the terrace of a fine café or shop in the market or one of the many boutiques in Old Montreal. Exploring Old Montreal is about taking your time and enjoying the moment. Pretend you are in Europe and all you have to worry about is enjoying your café au lait with a soft croissant.
2. Visit the underground city – Montreal can get mighty cold in the winter but that doesn't keep people at home. Visit the worlds largest underground city. Many Canadian cities have underground malls and walkways due to the cold weather, but Montreal takes it to the next level with over 32 km of tunnels containing restaurants, bars, shopping malls and even concert halls!
Summers can be very hot in Montreal. Just because it is located in Canada, doesn't mean that temperatures don't rise in the warm months. Take a break from the heat in the cool underground and find some excellent deals in the shops. Loose yourself and see where you end up in this massive complex.
3. Rent a bicycle – Montreal is a very bike friendly city. Like many European cities you can rent a bike with the swipe of a credit card and start exploring. You can then drop your bike off at any other rental location with are many and easy to find. Make sure to ride along the Lachine Canal a 14 km cycling, inline skating and walking route starting just west of the Old Port. There are bike lanes and bike paths everywhere and cyclists are a plenty in the active city of Montreal.
4. Marvel at Notre Dame Cathedral – It may not be as famous as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, but it is a proud monument in Montreal. Unfortunately the square in front of Notre Dame is under construction until next summer, but it is still an extraordinary example of Gothic architecture. Make sure to go inside to witness its ornate displays of religious events.
5. Hike up Mont Royal – Go for a hike for a gorgeous view of the city. Not only is Mont Royal a wonderful park for hiking or to go on a picnic, it is also a trendy neighbourhood of Montreal offering great dining and shopping.
6. Eat a Fix Prix Meal – While you are up at Mont Royal head over to Rue Rachel and have a fantastic 5 course dinner at Apres Le Jour. Make sure to bring your own bottle of wine! You can find restaurants all over Montreal where diners can bring their own bottle of fine wine to enjoy while eating their set meal. Experience French Cuisine at its finest without having to think very hard about what you are going to eat. Just pick a selection off of each course and enjoy as the staff pours your wine and keeps the food coming.
7. Crescent Street – Go out on the town for some dining and dancing on Montreal's most vibrant street. This is where the kids and party goers hang out. Montreal is famous for its nightlife in Canada and here is where you will find it. The drinking age in Montreal is 18 years old, so you will find a lot of Americans and youth from neighbouring Ontario coming over to enjoy an early drink.
8. Hire a Handsome Cab – Montreal is the city of love. Known as a calèche in Quebec, this horse and carriage ride is a must for couples in love. Like Paris, Montreal is Canada's city of romance. There is nothing more romantic than hiring a horse and carriage to take you through the cobblestone streets to enjoy the cities historical buildings. What I love about the horses in Montreal is how healthy and happy they are. We have seen a driver stop in the middle of a tour to give his horse some water and a break to cool off on a hot day.
9. Take a Cruise on the St. Lawrence – From the Old Port in Old Montreal, hop a riverboat to view Montreal from the St. Lawrence River. It is a romantic and relaxing way to enjoy the city. Different companies offer brunch, dinner and site seeing cruises daily. There is even a tour that offers an exciting ride through a Jet boat tour through the lachine rapids.
The St. Lawrence river is Canada's main waterway shared with the United States, you will be sailing on one of the most important trade routes in the world.
10. Spend an afternoon at the waterfront – Pathways and parks line the waterfront. Rent yourself a quadracycle to explore the area or bring your inline skates. You can bring a picnic lunch or enjoy a famous Montreal bagel. Catch an afternoon performance of Cirque de Soleil (Montreal is where it was founded) or enjoy the most recent Imax movie before heading for dinner at one of the many restaurants.
Montreal is filled with exciting and interesting things to do. Head out of the city for excellent hiking, mountain biking and paddling. The Laurentian Mountains are a hop skip and a jump from Montreal and are an adventure seekers dream destination.
But that list my friends is for another post.