Forget the mountains and hipster scene of Vancouver, or the hustle, bustle, and collection of global influences that Toronto has, for my colleague Rick Andreoli Montreal was the place he suggested when I asked where I should be going in Canada. I had been to Panda before as a boy but couldn’t remember a great and this was a trip which I was super excited about. I really wasn’t too worried about where I’d spend my final 4 days after the planned skiing trip, and my biddy Rick was very keen that I go to Montreal, and shun the bright lights of some of the nation’s more preferred cities. I am so glad that I took his advice, and here is why I too fell in love with this city in Quebec.
I had heard about the French influence on Canada before but I really had no idea that in some parts it was so deeply intertwined with the culture. Here in Montreal, I would actually venture a guess to say that I heard more French spoken than I did English, and that was something that really excited me. Even on the bus, I would hear them greet the driver in French before carrying on with their chat in English, truly amazing. It is not just the language that has found its way into the culture but also the French culture itself, visible in the patisseries and cafes throughout the city.
Although this was certainly a big city and had all the trappings of a big city, there was so much less pressure and a genuine feeling of space and tranquillity. I describe it to friends as being like a city designed for 1 million people but which only has 600,000 living in it.
There are a lot of places which lay claim to the ‘foodie’ title but few actually live up to it at all levels, Montreal is not one of those places. This is a city which offers every type of food and the standard is very high indeed. What Montreal does is tick boxes on all fronts, they have amazing street food here, outstanding casual dining, and some of the finest restaurants in Canada. Whether you are looking to grab some bagels at the iconic St-Viateur or to try some fine high-end French cuisine at the Île Flottante, you are going to be in for some absolutely amazing experiences. The food markets and festivals are a clear indicator that this is certainly a foodie city.
I was in Montreal during the summer months when the temperature would range from 25-30 celsius, offering cool and bright evenings. What is amazing however is that I have since been back in winter when it dropped down to -25 celsius, and the city is just as cool and just as fun. There is just this ability to adapt here, clearly as a result of the changing weather, and that is something else that I just adore about the city.
Have you been to Montreal before? What did you love most?