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Biosphère 160 Chemin du Tour de l’isle; www.par­c­je­an­dra­peau.com/en/bio­sphereen­vi­ron­ment­mu­seum-mon­treal. Bota Bota Old Port of Mon­treal, cor­ner McGill & De La Com­mune West; www.botab­ota.ca/ en/. Casa Del Popolo 4873 St Lau­rent Blvd; www. casadelpopolo.com. Dig­i­tal Spring City-wide; www.print­emp­snu­merique.ca. Igloofest Old Port of Mon­treal; se­lect dates Jan­uary– Fe­bru­ary; igloofest. ca. La Ronde 22 Chemin Mac­Don­ald; www.laronde.com. Le Fan­tome 1832 Wil­liam St; www. resto­fan­tome.ca. Mon­treal In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val City-wide; June–July; www. mon­tre­al­jaz­zfest.com. Mon­treal Ob­ser­va­tion Wheel www. la­grander­ouede mon­treal.com. Notre-Dame Basil­ica 110 Notre-Dame St West; www.basiliquenotredame.ca. Piknic Elec­tronik Mount Royal Park & Plaine des Jeux; www.piknic­elec­tronik.com. Pointe-a-Cal­liere Mu­seum 350 Place Royale; www.pac musee.qc.ca. Point G 1266 Mont-Royal Ave E; en.bou­tique­pointg.com.

bou­tiques, quirky galleries and book­shops, while Griffin­town, Lit­tle Bur­gundy and Saint-Henri are dis­tricts bristling with art and edge — these are work­ing class neigh­bour­hoods re­plete with street mar­kets and gi­ant mu­rals colour­ing the walls of old fac­to­ries. Out here, Mon­treal feels like a juicy se­cret; you can truly sense the en­ergy on the streets. Es­pe­cially in sum­mer. If there’s one good thing about the city’s long win­ter freeze it’s the ex­plo­sion of life when it fi­nally ends — it’s truly in­fec­tious. Ter­rasses (out­door restau­rant pa­tios) are con­stantly filled, while sun­bathers come to line the edge of the 14.5-kilo­me­tre La­chine Canal. You can even ride a bike on the For­mula 1 race track, surf a stand­ing wave on the Saint Lawrence River or dance the af­ter­noon away at Piknic Élec­tronik — an out­door DJ event set in the gar­dens of Mount Royal Park ev­ery Sun­day af­ter­noon.

SILK AND GRIT

The more you ex­plore, the more in­trigu­ing Mon­treal be­comes. This is a city of two tongues, two minds and two ways of life. French is Que­bec’s of­fi­cial lan­guage, and in Mon­treal there are games of pé­tanque be­ing con­tested in the parks, fran­co­phone bands, and that un­mis­tak­able Gal­lic style wher­ever you look. But half the city speaks English and there are things the mother coun­try would prob­a­bly never con­done: tat­tooed fine din­ing for in­stance, or even peanut but­ter and jelly foie gras sand­wiches (for real, try it at Le Fan­tôme). It’s like the con­flux of two rivers: French silk and Amer­i­can grit. To live here both streams must merge. Some of it is stirred to­gether, some of it may never mix. That cre­ates a clash. “Liv­ing in Mon­treal is like dat­ing some­one with border­line per­son­al­ity dis­or­der,” Russ Cooper, a lo­cal gui­tarist quips. But it also cre­ates new ideas.

Mon­treal is now an in­ter­na­tional hub for dig­i­tal cre­ativ­ity, rated by some ex­perts as sec­ond in the world for ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and video gam­ing, third for vis­ual an­i­ma­tion and a world leader for vir­tual re­al­ity and in­ter­ac­tive film-mak­ing. It also has one of the largest dig­i­tal arts fes­ti­vals on the planet: the re­cent Prin­temps numérique, or Dig­i­tal Spring, which runs from March to June ev­ery year, when more than 300 events take over the city. This sea­son saw an in­stal­la­tion of 21 mu­si­cal swings, each mak­ing a dif­fer­ent note ac­cord­ing to how fast you use them; the largest out­door pro­jec­tion course ever seen; a maze of mu­rals telling the his­tory of Mon­treal, pro­jected onto the side of build­ings across the grand city; full im­mer­sion vir­tual re­al­ity; cut­ting-edge gam­ing; and 360-de­gree plan­e­tar­ium shows. If you like art, tech­nol­ogy, games and see­ing the fu­ture, this is surely where you need to be.

And that’s the thing. Mon­treal’s not the new Brook­lyn, or even the new Seat­tle. It’s not France or Amer­ica. It’s do­ing its own thing, and it’s do­ing it pas­sion­ately. Be­cause, in the end, what­ever clashes and har­monies this city cre­ates, whichever ways those rivers merge and flow, what mat­ters most right now is the snow’s melted, sum­mer has ar­rived and the whole city is up for a good time. You should be too.

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