Introducing the city

£1.00 | $1.69

GBP | CAD

Gasoline £0.68 | $1.15

One-way ticket £1.93 | $3.25

Beer £3.56 | $6.00

Main Course £8.90 | $15.00

About Montréal

To be in Montréal is to summon the arresting romance that tarried long after the French departed Québec in 1760. France's Midas touch can be gleaned between the picturesque streets of Old Town, beneath the grand Notre-Dame Basilica and from the centenary of songs eloquently named: Montréal.

Plenty of North American cities feel bland and generic. Not Montréal. The Europeans that squabbled and warred over territory and evicted indigenous Iroquoians at least got around to constructing places like Golden Square Mile, Saint-Sulpice Seminary and the Old Town here. But the fluttering European heartbeat that gets people swooning so hard can be found in more places than the city's architecture.

The 8.2 million citizens host acclaimed jazz festivals, fascinating Inuit exhibitions and a predominantly French performing arts scene. Duality is an unbroken theme to this bilingual city, ensconced at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers and best characterised by a duplex of old and modern buildings.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November) are cooler, cheaper and less crowded, so are the best times to visit Montréal.

Those willing to endure lows of minus 20 degrees Celsius will reap the reward of a glistening Montréal in winter. Summer can get as hot as 25 degrees Celsius but the St. Lawrence River keeps things humid.

Many people tend to visit in the summer when like many Eastern and North American cities, Montréal begins its festival season.

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Travioor top tips

Bicycle
Language
WALKING TOURS

Insider Info

  • Montréal's gusto for cycling is unlikely, winters ravage the roads that climb towards Mount Royal. But the Route Verte is 3293 miles long and operates year round. The cycle path that runs through downtown is the width of a car lane and is ideal for families and the inexperienced as it is shielded from the road by a cement curb.
  • Language has been an issue of some controversy in Montréal. Many feel that not enough is being done to preserve Canadian French and so it is worthwhile learning at least some basic phrases to explain that your French isn't up to scratch. Locals will appreciate this effort.
  • Free Montréal tours require online registration here. The bike tours are also worth mentioning, although they are not free.

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Food and drink

Main Course £8.90 | $15.00

3-Course Meal £35.58 | $60.00

Cappuccino £2.20 | $3.71

Beer £3.56 | $6.00

The Scene

As an ex-French colony, croissants in the early morning from the bakeries and cafes are magic, just don't limit yourself to French fare entirely. Start with Italian inspired Café Olimpico, 124 St. Viateur Street West for coffee or the tight Jewish Boulangerie Cheskie in Mile End.

For lunch, Le-St-Urbain on 195 Young Street offers a seasonal and locally sourced menu. Schwartz's is not what it is cracked up to be but smoked meat enthusiasts shouldn't be deterred from scratching an itch. Pintxo dishes prepared by Alonso Ortiz, contain far superior charcuterie (cold meats) as well as other explosive morsels of Basque tapas.

Imadake's sake bombs are ideal for large groups who can handle their drink ... you've been warned.

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History

Montréal’s Story

The city was originally known for its fur trade. Montréal's trading of boreal pelts was a lucrative income for the native Huron, Iroquoian and Algonquin aboriginals who traded with European settlers in the 16th century. However, fierce competition (caused by a dwindling beaver population) eventually led to the destruction of the Iroquoian peoples in 1580. The village of Hochelaga, which once stood at the foot of a local hill, was not inhabited again until 1601 when Guillaume Le Vasseur named it Mount Royal. It is widely believed that the etymology of Montréal can be derived from Mount Royal.

If the depletion of indigenous people and the decimation of fauna and wildlife wasn't enough, the French and British governments fought further wars, each vying to create a fur trading empire. Although it established itself as a major fur trading post, bitter conflicts with Iroquoians in the mid to late 17th century were followed by wars with the British government in the first half of the 18th century. This British French tension has been a primary theme in the evolution of Montréal ever since.

Language

Bonjour | Hello
Merci | Thank you

French

Some Canadian French is exactly the same as European French but their nonparallel linguistic evolution has left striking differences, most notably vowel pronunciation and grammatical structure. Views conflict on whether Parisian French developed in France prior to being exported to French colonies, or afterwards. Canadians will understand European French even if it doesn't always work out vice versa.

French is Montréal's official language but many businesses will greet customers with a 'bonjour/hi' prompting you to select your preference. Here's some formal phrases that'll get you started:

  • I don't speak much French: Je ne parle pas très bien français
  • Excuse me, do you speak English: Excuse moi, parlez-vous anglais?
  • How are you: Comment ça va?
  • Nice to meet you: Enchanté

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Need to know

+1 514 Dialling Code
911 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • If visiting in the winter, avoid hiding in the underground mall the whole time. Its just a shopping mall and worlds apart from the real Montréal.
  • Montréal's green spaces are beautiful during Autumn.
  • Old Montréal is pleasant to walk through but avoid eating or shopping here.  As a major tourist area it tends to be overpriced. Head to the Plateau to the North instead.

VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for Canada here.

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Travioor Recommends

1. Notre-Dame

Featuring Gothic revival architecture, a stunning cerulean ceiling and a pipe organ with over 7000 pipes, the Notre Dame Basilica is a truly stunning sight to behold.

2. Old Port

A stone's throw from the Notre-Dame Basilica but save it for the evening and take a meandering, waterside walk.

3. Museum of Fine Art

Dark complexions of stretched skins of kayaks, stretched over driftwood or whale bone, are embellished with vibrant reds and yellows in the, 'Quebéc and Canadian' collection.

4. Inuit Art Zone

Avoid the tack and overpriced maple syrup in the Old Town but seek out the Inuit Art Zone for polished stone sculptures, hand made hunting knives and durable leather works.

5. Mont Royal

Consider cycling up to Mont Royal for sunset or sunrise. No buildings can be taller than the 233 metre summit whose autumnal views are fringed by bittersweet reds and yellows.


See What's On In Montréal  


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