While I’m not the biggest fan of Paris, I must admit, Paris is Paris, and many cities pale in comparison, but hell, if your dollar is weak, but you want to scoop up a healthy portion of French culture, Montreal is the place to go. The language, the architecture, the vibe, the smells, and the people are all simply amazing, and with every sign and menu in French, it’s easy to forget you’re so close to home.
Several times I’ve been to Montreal, each time making sure I do as many new things as possible to be able to offer my friends a list in case they ever ask.
Things to do in Montreal:
1. Eat Poutine: Poutine is a Canadian dish, originating in the province of Quebec, made with french fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy. It’s the local favorite, but trust me, it’s only good after the club.
2. Visit the viewpoint at Mont Royal Park: I recommend going only at sunset or sunrise because that’s when it’s most beautiful.
3. Visit Old Montreal: This is where it really feels like you’re walking by The Seine in Paris. Grab a pastry, some gelato with hints of maple, a cup of coffee, or a crepe and feel fancy. Be sure to check out the Hotel De Ville, Basilica Notre Dame, and all the other amazing structures down there.
4. Eat at Schwartz: 3895 Boul St-Laurent. Montreal is known for their smoked meat sandwiches, and this is by far the best place to get such a meal. The line is sometimes long, but trust me, it’s worth the wait. Sit at the counter if you can, order a smoked meat sandwich and a can of soda and live.
5. Eat at Une Crepe: 425 Mont Royal Avenue Est. My god! One of the greatest crepes I’ve ever eaten, and if you know me, I’ve have thousands of crepes from thousands of places.
6. Hunt for Street Art: There are many beautiful pieces of art on buildings and on the side of benches and stairs. See how many you can find. They crawl the city and are definitely worth the find.
7. Festivals!: Montreal is known for their many festivals. My love of Jazz music makes me loves the Jazz Fest most of all, but around each corner is something for everyone simultaneously. And the fireworks never run out.
8. Jean-Talon Market & Atwater Market: For the farmers market crowds. Fresh fruit, juices, great foods, and people watching are in abundance.
9. Rue St. Catherine: Shoppers, this is for you. This long street is lined with stores you may already know, but every so often you’ll come across a boutique local vendor, and you’ll fall in love with the goods.
10. Rue. St. Denis: This is Catherine’s hip little brother. This street is a little more laid back, less crowded, more beautiful, and for those who appreciate shops just as much as they appreciate architecture and strolling.
11. Nightlife: You can really just google “Best Nightclub in Montreal,” and it will give you a list to suit your needs. The several I’ve been to, I arrived skunk drunk, and can’t remember the names, but I remember the fun. Go!
12. Vieux Port: The Old Port of Montreal is the historic port of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Located in Old Montreal, it stretches for over two kilometres along the St-Lawrence River. The beauty here is amazing, and the stroll is romantic or great with friends. The bridge at night is worth a glance. If you lucky, there will be a band and fireworks and smiling faces.
I absolutely love this city, and couldn’t imagine never returning. If I never visit Paris again, I’d be fine (sorry, Brenda, but it’s the truth). Give Montreal a shot when the summer rolls back around and check out a few things on this list. Then create your own to-do’s.