Image by Montreal-based illustrator Johan Papin

An Insider Guide to Montreal

Montreal is a city where old meets new, where Canadian charm meets a French heart and remarkable history meets a thriving modern culture. Here’s our insider’s guide to the largest city in Quebec.

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The Main Attractions

On Place d’Armes in Old Montreal, there is a monument to Paul de Chomedey, the founder of Montreal, who in 1642 established a small settlement of Fort Ville-Marie on Montreal island. Today in the historic quarter of Old Montreal you’ll find an array of buildings dating back to the New France era. The Notre-Dame Church was one of the earliest buildings, established in 1682, but in 1829 it was replaced by the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica in order to accommodate the growing numbers of the city. The basilica still stands now and is a remarkable example of Gothic Revival Architecture. Tourists will gravitate to the Old Port of Montreal, used as early as 1611 as a trading post, and now a great spot for river place walking and cycling. There are some great museums in Old Montreal too - the Museum of Archaeology and History of Montreal perhaps being the pick. A short walk from Old Montreal will take you to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, or Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where you’ll find the largest art museum in Canada in terms of gallery space, and just behind is the Parc du Mont-Royal, the green spot of Montreal, where you can climb Colline de la Croz, or ‘Mount Royal’ - the hill which gives the city its name. Once you’ve explored the history it’s time to discover modern Montreal - a bustling Canadian city with a Gallic twist, where you’ll find poutine and French pastries equally available, and a party scene that’s hard to rival. Visit Mile End or Little Burgundy and you’ll find thriving arts communities, microbreweries and an array of artisan eating spots. The city is actually home to one of the largest proportions of creative jobs in the world, which is no surprise given the sheer number of festivals that take place each year. The bustling city of Montreal is an island not just in geographical terms, but in cultural terms too. This is a city where the official language is French, but English is widely spoken, a city where city-living meets green spaces and where a historic quarter meets an artsy, vibrant modern metropolis.

Neighborhoods