Takes a look at Canada’s cultural capital where there’s never a dull moment...
MAKING its mark in history as the city where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their legendary bed-in, Montreal is Canada’s second largest city and its cultural capital.
Consisting of 19 multicultural neighbourhoods, blending a mix of English and French culture, Montreal is second only to Paris in its number of French-speaking residents. From festivals to fine arts, there is a palpable buzz about this cosmopolitan city where there is never a dull moment. Must sees for free Venture out to Mount Royal Park, a triplepeaked volcanic hill to the west of Downtown Montreal with stunning views across the city. There are woodland trails perfect for wildlifespotting, cycling or hiking and in winter visitors can try snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snow tubing.
At Beaver Lake there are paddle boats for hire in summer and ice skating in winter. Follow the sculpture trail, take a dip in the outdoor community pool or visit Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, the world’s largest Catholic shrine dedicated to St Joseph.
Head to the Jean Talon market in the middle of the Little Italy district for fresh, local produce. Taste charcuterie, pâtisserie and fromages and discover delights from across the globe, from fresh oysters to tacos.
Stroll through the romantic, cobbled streets of Old Montreal, the most historic part of the city. Embrace its Parisian-style ambience, watch the horse-drawn carriages pass by and savour food and drink from pavement eateries.
The Notre-Dame Basilica has stunning stained glass windows and a breathtaking interior, while the historic Old Port, once a 17th century trading post for fur traders, is now a charming waterfront recreational area.
There are plenty of events to draw visitors to Montreal, including Le Mondial de la Bière, Canada’s largest beer festival, which runs from June 6 to 9 this year, the world’s biggest French music festival, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, from June 7 to 16 and the Canadian Grand Prix from June 8 to 10, 2018. Top sees for a fee Take a break from the hustle and bustle in Montreal Botanical Gardens. Spanning 185 acres, it is home to more than 22,000 types of flora and 100,000 herbarium specimens, with bonsai trees, a butterfly house and plant sculptures. It is one of four facilities inside the Space for Life complex operated by the Montreal Nature Museum, which includes a biodome housing 4,500 animals, an insectarium and a planetarium.
Entry to any of the attractions costs $19.25 for adults, $9.75 for five to 17-year-olds and $53.50 for a family of two adults and up to three children. A special passport granting access to all attractions is also available.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts features five pavilions showcasing works of art in music, film, fashion, fine arts and design.
Exhibiting both classic and modern pieces from Canada and across the world, it hosts rotating exhibits and creations from artists such as Rembrandt, Cézanne and Picasso. Entry is free for VIPs, under-30s and over-65s on Thursdays and the general public on the last Sunday of every month. Otherwise entry to the large exhibitions costs $23 for over-30s, $15 for ages 13 to 30, free for under-13s.
Entry to the collections and discovery exhibitions is $15 for over-30s and over-65s, free for others. Getting around Montreal’s public transport system, La Société de Transport de Montreal (STM), offers a convenient, inexpensive way to explore the city via metro or bus.
STM’s Family Outings programme provides free travel for children during certain periods of the year and offers on shows and activities. Explore Montreal on foot on the pedestrian-friendly streets or hop on a BIXI public bike and head off on the city’s 750 kilometres of cycle paths. Eating out To splash the cash, head to the acclaimed restaurant Chasse Galerie for a true taste of contemporary French- Quebec cuisine. Sit by the bar and watch as the chefs weave their magic. Going out A thriving hub of bars, restaurants and cafés, the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood is a stylish spot to be seen. French Canadian microbrewery Dieu du Ciel is a mustvisit for craft beer fans, serving locally-brewed beers at reasonable prices.
For creative concoctions from masters of mixology, head for Lab - Comptoir à Cocktails, while music lovers can catch live gigs at Métropolis. Hotels: Luxury Hotel Gault: A contemporary boutique hotel set in the centre of Old Montreal, this offers minimalist-style accommodation in spacious, open-plan, loft-style rooms.
Sainte-Hélène Street. From £276 per night. Mid-range Hotel Le Germain Montreal: Elegance, comfort and quality are the hallmarks of this modern hotel in the heart of the city. Rooms feature original artwork and 42-inch, wall-mounted televisions. Mansfield Street. From £192. Budget Armor Manoir Sherbrooke: Exquisitelydecorated and ecofriendly, this is a chic three-star hotel featuring 30 elegantly designed rooms in a converted historic building. Sherbrooke Street East. From £90.
The Montreal skyline at night
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Montreal botanical garden