Takes a look at Canada’s cul­tural cap­i­tal where there’s never a dull mo­ment...

Middleton Guardian - - TRAVEL -

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

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