Of all the places in Canada I’ve visited, Montreal feels furthest from the United States. Montréal is primarily French-speaking, and throughout the city there is a mixture of English and French influence which gives Montréal is own unique flare.
Montréal, QC from Mount Royal
If you find yourself planning a trip, allow me to provide my top 5 suggestions of places to visit and eat:
1. Basilique Notre Dame de Montréal
This basilica is one of the most visually pleasing places I have ever been, making it well-worth the $8 admission. With ornate columns, sloping ceilings and aisles, and intricately carved sculptures, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by the beauty captured within a single sacred building.
Basilique Notre Dame
Yet the eyes are drawn to the front and center where a breathtaking crucifixion scene has been carefully arranged amid an artful contrast of blue and yellow. Combined with the unbelievable organ in the rear of the church, this was the highlight of my trip.
2. Old Montreal
This easternmost region of Montréal runs along the St. Lawrence River and holds the most history. Peppered throughout are great French-reminiscent views and iconic statues. There is also an old financial district which has places like Molson’s Bank (opened by the sons of an affluent brewer, now home to offices), the Old Royal Bank Tower (which is now the massive Crew Collective & Café) and BMO Bank (which, haha, still functions as a bank). Nearby, Maison Christian Faure Patisserie offers a variety of classic French pastries and cakes.
Maison Christian Faure’s
3.The Underground City
A network of tunnels and hallways connect a seemingly-endless number of shops, restaurants, hotels, and businesses. The Underground City allows you to avoid the elements but, as a fair warning, it can be a bit confusing and crowded, so take a map or keep an eye on the signs as you navigate your way. Here you can find great souvenirs, and definitely stop by Première Moisson to grab a café au lait and an almond croissant (or three).
4. World Trade Center Montreal
This building is a stunning architectural feat very near Old Montréal that has a unique interior that makes one think of warmer climes. With glass walls letting in natural light, ceilings that rise far and away, and a still water fountain, the World Trade Center offers a perfect mix of business and pleasure.
World Trade Center Montréal
Shops, restaurants, and offices occupy a majority of the building, and it even houses a portion of the Berlin Wall. Tucked in one side of the main stretch is a little place called La Fabrique de Bagel which makes its own “MTL style” bagels boiled in honey-water. I selected a cranberry chocolate bagel with cream cheese, and have been craving another one ever since.
5. Mount Royal
This hill—the very namesake of Montréal—is situated near downtown, just beside McGill University. It is a quick, easy hike which affords a great view of the city. The chalet at the top has a café where you can grab a quick beverage as you enjoy the view in a chair by the fire. Once finished with your mini-trek, head back downtown to Rueben’s or Dunn’s Famous for a smoked meat sandwich and some poutine to complete your survey of classic Montréal cuisine.
Poutine and a Smoked Meat Sandwich at Reuben’s
There are more amazing things to see and places to visit aside from the five listed above, but these were the things I really enjoyed. So, if you’re itching for a European-type vacation that’s close(er) to home, check out Montreal. Bon voyage!
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