Travel Review: Montreal, Canada

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Adina Oditt
Staff Writer

Known as the only bilingual city on the North American continent, Montreal is the cultural and economic capital of Quebec and the main entry point to the province. The second largest city in Canada, it is a city rich in culture and history and a well-deserved reputation as one of the liveliest cities in North America. Demographics show that Montreal residents come from 80 countries, forming an urban mosaic of vibrant ethnic communities and neighborhoods safe to walk in day or night. Visitors will detect a distinct British influence in parts of the city, inherent in the culture since the days when English merchants controlled the city’s trade. All in all, it’s easy to see why “cosmopolitan” is the adjective most used in describing Montreal.

Airlines: Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport is Montreal’s main airport. The airport is served by all major Canadian and U.S. airlines and is a major hub for Air Canada, Air Transat, and WestJet. There are multiple daily trans-Atlantic flights to and from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Athens, Doha, Frankfurt, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Munich, and Casablanca.

Hotel/Lodging: For the budget traveler, Montreal offers youth hostels with dorms or private rooms as well as budget bed and breakfasts. The densest collection of budget hotels are in the Latin Quarter, in the streets east of Berri-UQAM metro and the long distance bus station. Old Montreal has a couple of quality hostels, but you’ll pay more to be there. Mid-range options include Downtown chain hotels to “gîtes,” guest houses that range from a single room in an apartment to elegant historic homes with three to five rooms. Gîtes are usually found in the more residential neighborhoods like the Plateau. On the upper-end, four and five-star luxury and boutique hotels are mostly concentrated in Old Montreal and Downtown.

Attractions/Sightseeing: Montreal’s museums, historic sites, shopping districts, and nightclubs provide plenty of entertainment. For a taste of historic Montreal, spend a day exploring the 18th-century buildings of Vieux-Montréal, which now house small museums and souvenir shops. This city is also a great destination for families with attractions like the Montreal Biodôme and La Ronde Amusement Park. If you are visiting during the winter, escape the cold by heading down to the shopping malls and museums of the Underground City. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Empire State Building in New York City, Mount Royal and in particular, the Mount Royal Cross, acts as a natural landmark and way to orient yourself in Montreal. Hike, bike, drive or take a bus to the top of Mont Royal and enjoy the great view and park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, famous for his work on Central Park in NYC. Mount Royal Park includes a small, man-made lake, playground, lookouts, and walking paths. Access to the park without a car is free.

Cuisine: Montreal is a culinary mecca and has a huge variety of food options from diners and fast food to low-cost ethnic restaurants to haute cuisine. No visit is complete without at least one plate of poutine. This unique dish is a plate of French fries drowned in gravy and topped with chewy curds of white cheddar. There are variations on the theme adding chicken, beef, vegetables, or sausage and replacing the gravy with tomato sauce (poutine italienne). Many Montreal restaurants are “apportez votre vin” (bring your own wine).

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