American travelers dream about taking a trip to Europe. They want to visit places where they can speak different languages, savor good local food, and experience diverse customs.
The only problem is it’s expensive to fly over this thing called the Atlantic Ocean. However, Montreal, Canada is a solution to this problem. It sits right across the American boarder making it an inexpensive flight from many US locations.
In Montreal, French is the official language. Close your eyes and immerse yourself in the sounds and smells of this city and you’ll almost think you’re in Paris.
French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded a fur post on the island of Montreal in 1616. It remained a French territory until 1760, when the French lost the Seven Years War and had to surrender Montreal to the British. After many years of expansion, in 1860, it became the largest city in British North America.
During prohibition, it was a place for Americans to find alcohol. In 1976, the city hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Montreal has always had political and cultural problems because of its complicated English and French history. Yet, what makes Montreal such a wonderful and exciting city is its past, which has created a unique cultural experience.
This historic area is located on the southeast side of the city by the St Lawrence River. Old Montreal has many restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries. This is where you’ll find many of the sights including the Notre-Dame Basilica, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, Bonsecours Market, and Montreal City Hall. As you walk down the cobblestone streets, alongside the old French architecture you begin to forget you’re in North America. Take time to see the old square Place Jacques-Cartier, which is especially beautiful at night. You can wander down to the St. Lawrence River and take in the fresh air. In this area you can catch a show at Cirque Du Soleil.
If you’re in the mood for French crepes, Muru is located on Rue Notre-Dame Est., where they have mouth-watering breakfast and desert crepes.
Old town is also a great place to grab some Poutine, which is a Quebec dish made with French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds. It doesn’t sound that great, but it’s delicious, especially after a night of drinking.
Food in Montreal
One thing is certain, you will not leave this city hungry. Montreal is famous for its delightful cuisine. They seem to have the best of everything. A great brewery in Montreal called Unibroue crafts exceptional beer. Try the classic Blanche de Chambly, which is a Belgian style witbier (wheat beer).
For world famous smoked meat sandwiches you must go to Schwartz’s on Saint-Laurent Boulevard. They’re a Hebrew deli that marinates their meat for 10 days and cooks it all day long. It’s inexpensive and very appetizing. Go to Fairmount Bagel on Fairmount West Street for the best bagel in town. They have all the best types of bagels and are baked in a wood-burning oven making them soft on the inside.
For a delicious four-course meal at an inexpensive price, L’Entrecote Saint Jean on Peel Street is the place to eat. They serve a tasty Sirloin steak with French fries and homemade gravy. All of these places are well worth a visit.
In Montreal many of the restaurants and cafes allow you to bring your own wine. In French this is referred to as Apportez Votre Vin. If you go to a local liquor store they will give you a special bag in which can hold up to six bottles of wine. If you walk up to a restaurant that has a sign stating Apportez Votre Vin, you’re in the clear. Your waiter will open the bottles for you to share with your friends and family.
Once you walk under the Chinese style paifang you are no longer in Montreal. Chinatown is about as close to being in Asia as you’re going to get. It’s located in the De la Gauchetière Street area of the city, which is near Old Montreal.
For excellent Chinese food, the Noodle Factory on St. Urbain is the best choice. It’s a dining experience that includes quick service and hot dumplings at a good price. Explore the shops and eateries throughout this little community. You can buy old Asian pottery, tea sets, art, bamboo items, and other things.
Things to do
Montreal is known for its fresh outdoor public markets. The city has four main markets: The Atwater Market, Jean-Talon Market, Maisonneuve Market, and the Lachine Market. Each one has unique goods that can include: Fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, cheese, bakery, wine, sweets, cooking supplies, and other goods from around the world.
Montreal is a great city to walk with its many parks and universities. Check out McGill University or the Université de Montréal and enjoy a nice stroll around the campuses. Mount Royal Park is also a lovely place to enjoy some exercise. On top of the hill you can catch a great view of the city and the St. Lawrence River. In the summer on Saturdays this place is invaded by thousands hippies and partygoers jamming to music and smoking grass, which can be an interesting cultural experience.
Montreal will exceed your expectations. It’s truly a wonderful city with great people, food, nightlife, history, culture, and diversity. Go to Montreal and experience the European side of North America and don’t for get to bring your own wine.