Montréal is the second largest city in Canada behind Toronto and the second largest French speaking city in the western world behind Paris. Montréal is where the old world meets the modern world. It has unquestionable charm and culture, with a real sense of self and some of the best cuisine around. Montréal is also the Canadian mecca of hockey and home to Les Canadiens de Montréal, whom have won a record 24 Stanley Cups. I was fortunate to be able to get tickets to see a game at the Bell Centre this past weekend and it was an atmosphere that I won’t soon forget. However, the best thing about Montréal is that it’s only a five to six hour drive from New York City. It’s so close but many people do not take advantage of this gem to the north.
Montreal is basically broken down into neighborhoods. There is Downtown Montréal which is mostly modern with big skyscrapers, posh hotels and several good fancy restaurants, including my absolute favorite, La Queue de Cheval. However, Downtown does have many little reminders of the city’s history. Then there is Old Montréal where you’ll feel like you’re in a time warp back a century. Old Montréal contains the beautiful Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, Place Jacques-Cartier and the Pointe-à-Callière Museum. It is also home to some of Montréal’s best brunch and dinner spots including Restaurant du Vieux-Port. Finally, Montréal is looked over by Mount Royal which has great panoramic views over the city, especially on a clear summer day.
Montréal is also home to legendary nightlife. Montréal was a place for thirsty Americans to visit during Prohibition in the United States where they could get their fill on all things Montréal has to offer. The same is true today as many Americans will visit Montréal for its indulgences.
Rue Crescent is home to some of Montréal’s favorite watering holes and craziest clubs. It is located right in the center of the city and has a long strip of bars and restaurants. Boulevard Saint-Laurent is at its peak during the summer when the restaurants and bars flow out onto the street and it turns into a huge indoor/outdoor party. In the Winter it still retains it’s reputation with great restaurants including Bonna Notte Restaurant and several others to keep you hopping around. Finally, Rue Sainte-Catherine is the shopping capital of Montréal where you can find anything you want, including unending amounts of shoe stores and also some fine bars and restaurants. Also, you can find some of the cities more infamous or famous strip clubs-which is something else Montréal is very well known for.
Finally, Montréal is home to one of the best University’s in North America and certainly one of the most beautiful as it resembles a medieval French Chateau, McGill University. It overlooks the city at the base of Mount Royal. The main entrance at Sherbrooke Street has great backdrops for pictures and the campus is great to walk around in the summer.
Montréal and Québec in general is a great place to visit. I have been to Montréal seven times now and love it more each time. It is such a nice break from New York and so easy to get to. If you don’t feel like driving, you can take an hour flight from LaGuardia and Montréal is accessible from all over the US and the world obviously. However, I love to drive up through upstate New York because the mountain scenery is great and it is just a relaxing drive-just watch out for cops with radar hiding all the way up 87!