The Canadian city of Montreal has always been known for its European feel. France (and Paris, in particular), has influenced the Montreal culture over the last hundred years, and the greystone buildings, looming cathedrals, and horse-drawn carriages can definitely make a Parisian feel at home. In fact, after Paris, Montreal is the largest French-speaking city in the world. The first European to discover Montreal was the French explorer Jacques Cartier, and a few decades later, another French explorer, Samuel De Champlain, founded “New France”, setting up a trading post just west of what is now Old Montreal. Though the 1763 Treaty of Paris marked the beginning of the British rule of the land, Montreal had already been heavily influenced by the French language, religion, and culture. A trip to Montreal make your dream to experience a unique city, offering the perfect combination of the North American lifestyle and the romantic ambience of Paris. Though the tourist season in Montreal generally runs from May to September (summer offers a non-stop line-up of fantastic festivals, shows, and events), winter can be a nice time to visit, particularly if you’re a fan of winter sports.
Food and Drink
Montreal is considered to be a true foodie destination, and much of this reputation is based on the French flair that can be found in so many of the city’s restaurants. There are a couple hundred French bistros scattered about the city, ranging in size, price, and location. For a trip back to France, dine out at Le Paris, a French restaurant in the downtown area that features Parisian décor and music and, of course, a menu that seems to come directly from the City of Lights itself. Le Paris serves fried steak, kidney, sausage, veal, liver, foie gras, and cod, just to name a few of its specialities. As an added perk, it is a Bring Your Own Wine restaurant.
Europea, on Rue de la Montagne, is another award-winning French restaurant in the city, and Chef Jerome Ferrer (a master chef of France) and his team have created an artistic menu of fine French cuisine. Sumptuous dishes include macaroni with cream of mushroom, Cornish hen and butternut squash confit, and grilled flank steak with potatoes and white truffle oil. In addition to the plethora of French-inspired restaurants in Montreal, the city is also home to many brasseries, and in the warm weather, visitors can engage in Paris’ popular past-time of “people-watching”, and join the locals on the many bar and restaurant terrasses lining the city streets.
Sights and Activities
Montreal is home to many attractions that will make Parisians feel at ease. Just recently, the Musée Grévin- a wax museum that first opened in Paris back in 1882- opened a satellite museum in the city of Montreal. The Montreal museum is the first of what owners hope will be many Grévin museums located outside of France. The Musée Grévin is located on top of Montreal’s Eaton Center, and is a true multi-media experience, featuring animated films, mirrored walls, chandeliers, and, of course, plenty of wax figures. There is even a section called “Paris-Québec”, which is dedicated to historical figures connecting the “Old” France with “New” France.
There are wax replicas of Charles De Gaulle, Marie Antoinette, Steve Jobs, Wayne Gretzky, and Barack Obama, just to name a few. If you really want to head back to the “Old World” while visiting Montreal, make your way down to the Old Port. On the banks of the St. Lawrence River, this historical section of the city stretches out for more than 2km, and features top-quality restaurants, old monuments, exhibitions, and activities for the whole family. It’s a popular destination for walking and cycling, and in 2012 Clock Beach opened up, featuring comfortable Adirondack chairs, a boardwalk, and a misting station. The Old Port is also where you’ll find the Notre-Dame Basilica, a Gothic Revival-style church inspired by Paris’ own Sainte Chapelle. In the winter, you can find outdoor skating, the Snow Village, and the Montreal Lights Festival.
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