Québec’s largest city, Montréal, is built on an island at the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. It is a sprawling city of cosmopolitan neighborhoods, each a delight to stroll around with its own character and history reflecting a different facet of the city's multi-layered life.
Montréal claims to be the second-largest French-speaking metropolis in the Western world and the only French-speaking metropolis in North America. It is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city, and lies on the Island of Montréal with surrounding smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Ile Bizard.
La Ville Souterraine offers 20 miles of underground tunnels linking major buildings in the city and boasts shopping malls, banks, hotels, subways, and bus stations—even an event arena. It is an impressive urban planning achievement offering an escape from the harsh winter weather and traffic congestion.
Brimming with culture, beautiful scenery, and magnificent restaurants, Montréal is the perfect place to explore and unwind.
More information can be found below and on the Montréal tourism office website: www.tourisme-montreal.org
Notre Dame Basilica
Located in the historic district of Old Montréal, the Basilica is built in the neo-gothic style and contains extensive stained glass windows, beautiful works of art, and wood carvings. The basilica also houses le Gros Bourdon, one of the largest bells in the world, which weighs more than 12 tons. Extensively rebuilt in 1829, the building’s foundation dates to 1672.
Hôtel de Ville
Montréal’s handsome City Hall was built between 1872 and 1878 and then rebuilt after a fire in 1926. Peer into the Great Hall of Honor for some scenes of rural Québec and busts of Jacques Viger, the first French-speaking mayor (1833–36), and Peter McGill, the first English-speaking mayor (1840–42).
This recently renovated square is framed by some of the finest buildings in Old Montréal, including its oldest bank, first skyscraper, and Basilique Notre-Dame. The square’s name references the bloody battles that took place here as religious settlers and First Nations tribes clashed over control of what would become Montréal. At its center stands the Monument Maisonneuve, dedicated to city founder Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve.
Ile Jean Drapeau
Built on the site of the Expo ’67 World’s Fair, and named in honour of the Mayor who initiated Montréal’s participation, Ile Jean Drapeau hosts the Canadian F1 Grand Prix. The site was redeveloped to include many great attractions, including the renowned Biosphére housed in Buckminster Fuller’s striking geodesic dome. You can also enjoy the amusement park, casino, the city’s largest outdoor concert venue, an aquatics centre and even a beach. The park is situated over two islands and includes hiking and bike paths plus skiing trails during the winter.
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal
A must for art lovers, the Museum of Fine Arts has amassed several millennia worth of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, furniture, prints, drawings, and photographs. European heavyweights include Rembrandt, Picasso, and Monet, but the museum really shines when it comes to Canadian art. Highlights include works by Jean-Baptiste Roy-Audy and Paul Kane, landscapes by the Group of Seven, and abstractions by Jean-Paul Riopelle. There are also a fair amount of Inuit and aboriginal artifacts and lots of fancy decorative knickknacks, including Japanese incense boxes and Victorian chests. The temporary exhibits are often exceptional.Parc du Mont Royal
Montréalers are proud of their “mountain,” the work of New York Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted. It's a sprawling, leafy playground that's perfect for cycling, jogging, horseback riding, picnicking, and, in winter, cross-country skiing and tobogganing. In fine weather, enjoy panoramic views from the Kondiaronk Lookout near Chalet du Mont-Royal.
The gigantic oratory honors St. Joseph, Canada’s patron saint. The largest shrine ever built in honor of Jesus’ father, this Renaissance-style building was completed in 1960 and commands fine views of the northern slope of Mont-Royal.
The pride of Little Italy, this huge covered market is Montréal’s most diverse. Many chefs buy ingredients for their menus here or in the specialty food shops nearby. Three long covered aisles are packed with merchants selling fruit, vegetables, and flowers as well as baked goods. The market is flanked by delis and cafe-restaurants with tiny patios.
The city’s oldest neighborhood, the once-walled district of Vieux Montréal, is a 5-min walk from downtown. It is here, along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, where Ville Marie, the settlement that would become Montréal, was founded in 1642.
Check out Montréal’s Museum of Archaeology and History, Pointe-à-Callière, rising above the birthplace of Montréal; archaeological artifacts, including the city’s original foundation and an underground aqueduct, can be viewed here in an underground exhibit. Much of the charm of Vieux Montréal remains intact, carefully preserved in the beautiful old architecture. Cobblestone streets throughout Old Montréal link restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and residences
The Montréal Canadiens are members of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference of the NHL and play regularly at the Bell Centre in downtown Montréal. Founded in 1909, the Canadiens are the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team and the only existing club to predate the founding of the NHL. Tickets can be purchased from stubhub.com/montreal-canadiens-tickets/.
Montréal has a diverse and lively food culture embracing many influences. From exotic street food to world class gastronomy through some truly unique experiences, Montréal offers a culinary treat for every taste and occasion.
Quebec’s signature food is a messy pile of fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Although gourmet versions have appeared in recent years, the traditional version is still a great introduction. Pick up a basic poutine from one of the many roadside chip trucks that can be found on streets and highways across the province.
Quebec produces more than 70% of the world’s maple syrup, and the province has invented a unique way to consume it with Tire sur la neige, a taffy formed by pouring hot, boiled maple sap directly into fresh snow.
Smaller and denser than the more famous New York version, bagels are popular with Montréal residents and visitors alike. Several cafes and restaurants are famed for their bagels, including St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel, plus Mokland and Mont-Royal cafes, where you take a seat by the flame-filled ovens to watch your meal being created.
Similar to pastrami, but with differences in the cure, process, and spices, visit Schwartz’s Montréal Hebrew Delicatessen for a delicious sandwich, and take part in an 80-year-old tradition.