Montreal – A City That is Truly International!

Welcome to beautiful Montreal, Quebec’s largest city and also one of the holiday destinations that is among the oldest cities in Canada. The city of Montreal itself can be found on Montreal Island, which is located in southern Quebec near the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. Given that it’s the largest city within the largest province of Canada, you can bet that Montreal is brimming with an abundance of different attractions that bring visitors from all over the globe to this truly international city.

Festival Mode et Design Montreal

Festival Mode et Design Montreal

Montreal is such a dynamic plae, with so much to offer. It differs so much from the rest of the North American continent, in that it’s a Canadian city but has a truly European flavour, much like it’s counterpart, Quebec City. Montreal has a majority of French speakers, whereas most of the rest of Canada is predominantly English speaking. When many people think of Canada, they might conjure the image of a vast wilderness, with Toronto thrown in there somewhere, and the most everyone speaking French and English together. The truth is, the majority of Canada’s French language speakers live in the province of Quebec, and in Montreal you’ll encounter Canada’s French heritage like nowhere else in the country. Montreal’s culture is refined, elegant, and artistic, boasting famous actors and singers such as William Shatner and Leonard Cohen. The cobblestone streets, architecture and boutique hotels of Old Montreal are a popular destination, and a must-see for anyone experiencing Montreal for the first time.

 

This city is known for its open and friendly people, its rich heritage, and its incredibly unique culture. Montreal is a fashionable and stylish city, home to fashion shows and high end shopping boutiques. It’s a creative city, where arts and music reign supreme. It’s an internationally well-connected city of great food, fun festivals, winter activities and more.

Montreal happens to be the largest French-speaking city in the entire world outside of Paris, France, but if you don’t speak a lick of French, don’t despair. Although knowledge of basic French is certainly an asset travelling anywhere within Quebec, and essential outside of the major cities, you’ll get along fine visiting Montreal speaking English alone. Many of the people who live and work in this city are bilingual and will be happy to switch to English when speaking with visitors to their city, but they will also truly appreciate your efforts to communicate in French.

The climate of Montreal changes a great deal throughout the year. One season will be incredibly cold, the next very rainy, and the next humid and hot. Throughout the autumn season, the trees leaves change to a gold, firey red, and sunset orange. The range of activities available to visitors depend on the time of year. If you’re planning a trip to Montreal during the springtime, expect to be blown away by the fragrant blossoming gardens and trees found throughout the city. Springtime in Montreal is a welcoming event after a long winter, and you’ll see markets coming to life, streets becoming busier, gardens becoming greener, and the sights, sounds and smells of the city growing bolder once again.

One of Montreal’s best springtime events is The Fashion & Design Festival, or FMD Design, bringing together a huge number of well-known Canadian designers, retailers, up-and-coming creators, celebrities, international fashion icons and the public. The Fashion & Design Festival promotes and showcases a wide assortment of creativity and culture via their major outdoor event right in the centre of downtown Montreal. This must-see Montreal event offers insight into the world of fashion for professionals and newcomers on the scene alike. The activities that are featured during this event include fashion shows, live creative sessions, design showcasing and musical performances. The Fashion & Design Festival’s enormous influence takes over the city of Montreal in the form of unique exhibits, thought provoking installations and fun experiences which are of course open to the public. With approximately fifty shows each spring, and as many as three hundred participants and five hundred and fifty thousand visitors expected to flock to the city of Montreal annually for this spring time event, the Fashion & Design Festival is recognized as being a paradigm of fashion, design, culture, beauty and shopping trends.

Last year, for the third time, Black Fashion Week Montreal opened their season of festivities. The fashion event founded by Adama Paris, graced Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montreal between May 28th and 30th of 2015 in a tremendous celebration of creativity and fashion while sharing in the cultural wealth of the afro-carribean designers involved in making Black Fashion Week Montreal a success. A truly atmospheric and grand location for such a unique event, Saint Jean- Baptiste church in the heart of Montreal and this historical building inspired by the architecture of the Italian Renaissance, was be the welcoming environment for this Montreal fashion event.

Montreal is no stranger to impressive festivals, and is well known for it’s celebrations. It’s festivals are some of the biggest in the world. The Montreal Jazz Festival and the Montreal International Fireworks Festival are both the largest of their kinds in the entire world. The world’s biggest French music event “Les FrancoFolies de Montréal” is also held in this fantastically creative city. Some other impressive festivals in Montreal include the Montreal Beer Festival,  the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and the Montreal Reggae Festival.

Montreal has been an important city dating back to its days as a strategic location before the arrival of Europeans in Canada. A flourishing St.Lawrence Iroquoian settlement called Hochelaga was the town located on the site of present-day Montreal when famous explorer Jacques Cartier first visited the island in 1535. Just over one hundred years later, in 1642, the little village of Ville-Marie was then established as a Sulpician mission by Paul Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve. It was this very place that quickly became a booming centre of the fur trade. Following its capture by the English in 1762, Montreal remained the most important city in Canada until the 1970s, and was briefly the capital of the province during the 1840s.

Things turned around economically for Montreal in the sixties, when the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway allowed for business to move farther out west up the now accessible and navigable Seaway and on to ports further in land. Muscling through an economic depression from the 1980s through to the 1990s, Montreal established its identity as a secure North American city, and a centre of all manner of media and arts, culture, and sciences.

The 1920s and 1930s prohibition on alcohol sales within the United States, to the south of Quebec, turned Montreal into a mecca for cross-border travelers from nearby New England and New York. Montreal became known as a fun-loving city, making its business where it could with alcohol, exotic dancers and other kinds of licentiousness.

It wasn’t long before Expo 67 inspired an urban renewal program, bringing in a subway system and various pretty parks throughout the city. The World’s Fair in Montreal brought in more than fifty million visitors that year, all gathering in the amazing city over one impressive celebration.

 

Summers in Montreal are times of patio lunches and drinks, fashionable outfits strutting down the hot pavement, music and clove cigarettes floating on the light summer breeze, and incredible food. Some of the most iconic Montreal food you simply must try while visiting the city include Montreal-style smoked meat: There are more restaurants in the city than could even be listed here, where you can get a terrific Montreal smoked meat sandwich, however one of the most popular is Schwartz’s. Located at 3895 Boul St-Laurent, and the subject of documentaries, the inspiration of musicals and the muse of books is this restaurant founded in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania. Schwartz’s is a humble, narrow, white-tiled establishment decked out in communal tables where everyone can take a seat elbow to elbow. This iconic Montreal restaurant serves up smoked meat sandwiches, with medium-fat being the most popular, french fries and other favourites. The preservative-free smoked meat is created from briskets which have been marinated with a blend of herbs and spices for 10 days before being smoked. The true artistry of the smoked meat served here is in the hand-slicing of the hot brisket. It’s so good, you’ll see lines forming out the door at all times of the day.

 

Montreal style bagels

Montreal style bagels

Another Montreal must-try are Montreal style bagels. Nothing says Montreal style food like a great Montreal bagel. St-Viateur Bagel in different locations found throughout the city have been savoured by millions of people all over the world, and they’re all carefully crafted. Each one of these Montreal bagels is hand-rolled before being boiled in honey water, and then cooked in a wood fired oven that has been designed to both cook and flavour the bagel. The chewy treat that comes out of the wood oven surpasses any other kind of bagel you’ve ever tried, and it can be enjoyed in a seemingly endless variety of ways. You can even find their bagels being sold from Bagel Trucks around the city.

 

Being such a fascinating, artistic, international city, it only seems fitting that Montreal is the headquarters for the largest and most wildly colourful, entertaining and downright mind blowing theatrical production in the entire world: Cirque du Soleil. This French Canadian performance features elements of circus shows, acrobatics, theatrics, costumes and incredible stunts, all set to impressive music and lighting with enormous amounts of effort poured into the creativity. Each show flows with a general theme and is the result of years of practice for performers and artists.

 

Montreal during the winter festivities

Montreal during the winter festivities

Winter in Montreal is a cold but happy time, with locals bustling here and there – still fashionably dressed in spite of Jack Frost, the way only a Montrealer can do. Winter time is still a good time to get outdoors and enjoy the city’s annual snow carnival, the Fête des Neiges. This celebration is ideal for families and people who want to get out and make the most out of Montreal’s coldest season! You can expect to find yourself ice skating, tube sliding, playing games in the snow, enjoying a variety of different outdoor entertainment. It’s Montreal’s biggest winter outdoor festival.

 

There’s also Igloofest, where thousands of festival goers gather together to chase off the winter blahs by dancing outdoors to the beat of electronic music. If you’re looking for more, check out Montreal en Lumiere, an annual festival that lasts for eleven days. You’ll find plenty of food, arts and fun all happening throughout the fantastic city during this winter time celebration. To wrap up the winter time events, the Montreal All-Nighter is a must for the city’s late night lovers. If you’re the least bit nocturnal, you’ll love this one because this celebration is one for the night owls. The city’s museums, event halls, theatres, restaurants and bars all over the island keep their doors open (well, not literally – it is winter time after all) into the wee hours of the morning in one big city-wide indoor and outdoor party! Wear something warm!

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