We are in Montreal, the second largest French speaking city in the world and probably second largest city with French culture. If you live in Canada and would like to taste some French culture or feel like in France, you should go to Montreal. It’s a beautiful city with historical neoclassical architecture conjoined with modern buildings. Most of the local population speak English, but they prefer to respond you in French. If you approach them saying Bonjour, Ca va and my French is very poor, please help me they will be happy to help you. They love when foreigners try to speak in French.
Summer time is perfect for sitting outside of a restaurant enjoying French cuisine and wine. Our mornings in Montreal started with croissants, jam and butter with a cup of fresh ground coffee. I looove freshly baked crunchy croissants that we used to buy in bakeries in Montreal.
Montreal is also famous with its art and design centers. It’s like an art center of Canada. There are always interesting exhibitions, lots of street arts, street dances and shows, theaters and operas. Of course, you can’t find anything on the street when it’s -30 C in winter. Our first visit to Montreal was in March when it was -10 C with freezing wind. We had to go to indoor places then. When we went back in summer I just fell in love with this city. So much stuff to do and so beautiful!
So, I made a short list of things that we loved to do in Montreal.
1. For lovers of Notre-Dame de Paris, number 1 place to visit should be . It’s like a photo copy of cathedral in Paris, just smaller version. It’s very beautiful inside where you can light a candle for $1. I didn’t know that we had to pay for candle, I lighted one and left. Then my husband asks did you have change to put for candle? I was like, what??!! Anyways, I’m not a frequent visitor of cathedrals and churches, that’s why didn’t know the tradition. The basilica is situated in old part of Montreal where we loved just walking around. You can find lots of boutiques and restaurants. I especially loved this part of the city.
2. Old Port of Montreal. If you walk a few blocks down towards the coast you will be in Old Port. This port is on one of the biggest rivers of Canada, Saint Lawrence (Saint Laurent in French). Saint Lawrence river connects the Great Lakes with Atlantic Ocean. So, this port plays a big role in transportation of Quebec and Ontario as well. There’s a nice park along the boulevard where you can just hang around enjoying old buildings and streets of Montreal.
3. Biodome de Montreal. This is a perfect place to visit especially for families who don’t know how to entertain their little ones while travelling. This center has different halls showing different ecosystems of the Americas. You get into Tropical Rainforests, Laurentian Maple Forest, Gulf of St.Lawrence, Labrador Coast and Sub-Antarctic Islands. When you enter tropical rain-forests you can feel the same humid and hot air like in tropical areas and see the same plants and animals. Then you go to Sub-Antarctic Islands full of cute penguins. A very lovely place to visit with your family.
4. Olympic Stadium hosting Olympic Games in 1976. Montreal hosted the first Summer Olympic Games in Canada and later this stadium was a home of 1988 Winter Olympic games. This stadium is the largest by number of seats and now it’s the home of Montreal football team. It has 56 K seating capacity! It’s huge. One more fascinating fact about this stadium is its tower. This tower is the tallest inclined tower in the world. It has an elevator which takes you to the top to have a city view. But, to be honest, that view didn’t impress us and we thought it was just a waste of money. Because, the stadium is a bit away of center town and there’s nothing special around to see from top.
5. Saint Joseph’s Oratory on Mont Royal. Another beautiful basilica and architectural building to see on top of Mont Royal. This a sacred place of Canadian Catholics. It’s on a perfect place to have a gorgeous view to Montreal. This oratory was established earlier in XX century and was completed only in 1960s. Its dome is currently third highest dome in the world! It has a gorgeous park where you can hang around and take fascinating photos 🙂
6. Mont Royal (Mount Royal) park. Mont Royal is a hill or some people call as a small mountain in center of the city. Actually, the name of Montreal comes from French word Mount Royal which is translated as Royal Mountain. It’s really a beautiful park with a lake and artificial waterfall. I loved this park especially in autumn when trees turn into golden yellow and red colors. Just a breathtaking view. There’s also a small observation deck that opens a view on the city. Tourists love taking photos here.
7. Saint Helen’s Island (Il de Sainte-Helene) and Park Jean-Drapeau. I would suggest you to spare a whole day for this park and island together. Park Jean-Drapeau is made of Island of Montreal and Saint Helen’s Island on St.Lawrence river. There are lots of stuff that you can do in this park.
First thing is La Ronda amusement park. If you love crazy roller coasters and adrenaline you can spend your day in this park. It’s right on the coast of the river and while you go down from the roller coaster you feel like you will splash into water:). Lots of fun!
If you happened to be here in summer, you can use outdoor pool and other activities in Park Jean-Drapeau. It’s very family and kids’ friendly place. It was a freezing day when we got there first time and just strolled around in the park. Our second visit in summer was much more fun.
There’s also a Biosphere museum about river St.Lawrens. The irony is, we couldn’t get inside of this museum. Every time when we were there, it was either Monday or holiday. No luck :). And the funniest thing is, we thought it was Biodome. We were looking for Biodome and came to this park and it looked like something scientific that could be a Biodome. We found out about it at our second visit :).
8. Have smoked meat at Schwartz’s Deli. I have already written about this place and it’s in my list of must be visited places in Montreal.
9. Formula 1 Montreal Grand Prix. My husband is a great fan of Formula 1. Our weekends usually have the swooshing and buzzing sound of Formula 1 carts running around on TV. Of course, he couldn’t miss the chance of going to Montreal Grand Prix while being in Canada. This Grand Prix is held on Gilles Villeneuve track on Park Jean-Drapeau. Lots of emotions and fun. It’s an amazing car show that you should definitely visit if you love Formula 1.
10. Bell Arena. It’s home of Montreal Canadiens. This was also initiated by my husband as he’s a huge hockey fan. Every night was our hockey night in Canada. He’s Bruins fan and you probably know that Canadiens and Bruins hate each other :). Despite this fact, we wanted to see Bell Arena. Like it happened with Biosphere, we couldn’t get inside of Bell Arena ever!!! It was like a curse. I told him that it was probably you were a Bruins fan :). Well, let’s hope that one day we will go back and see this Arena from inside.
We didn’t like spending our precious time in malls and fancy shopping spots, as there were lots of other interesting things waiting for us. But if you love shopping and can’t make with out it, you can find lots of malls and glamorous shops on the street Ste-Catherine. Enjoy!