Before coming here I bought a complete guide of the city. Basically there are museums and squares. Not so great when you travel on a budget or when you are looking for a true Quebecois experience.
So we asked my hosts, their friends, their family what they usually do during their free time and what they like about their city (oh yes, they LOVE it)
Ok, so with a few ideas in mind we went out to the world, and here’s what we have to say about Montreal: Unlike what the guide implied, Montreal is a freaking AWESOME city.
And now for your eyes only, here’s what you can do on a trip to this amazing city.
1. BECOME A MONTREALIEN
Europeans, slow down. If you’re into touristic sites you can be done in two days tops so take your time. Montreal is a very vast city hosting “only” 1,600,000 inhabitants. That means that you have SPACE. And because you have space, the pace of the city tends to slow down compared to other capital cities. Nobody to walk on you feet, no unbearable traffic noise and no one to push you against the window on the metro during rush hours. So hey, there’s no need to rush. People around you actually WALK, wait for the light to be green before crossing the street and queue before getting on the bus (if you’ve been to France you know what I’m talking about).
I found that very relaxing and in a way, exotic. Plus, when you pace yourself there are so many details waiting to be noticed!
2. MONTREALIENS IN THEIR CITY
And here’s why I liked this city.
Montreal has everything a capital city offers. Malls, theatres, opera, restaurants, churches, etc. And what makes the city unique is what the people made of it. An enormous peaceful and happy melting pot. (Ok, that sounded a bit naive but you get the idea). People are happy to make you discover their city and their regional particularities. And from that, we arrive to activity nº1:
Yep. Montrealiens have the chance to be able to taste food from EVERYWHERE. Portugal, Japan, China, Africa, France, US, Russia, etc. So yes, they like going out in restaurants and tasting exotic food but as tourists, we MUST try the typical dishes! Smoked meat, La poutine. le pàte chinois… everything is as tasty as it looks. Eating is not an institution like it can be in France but it certainly has an important part in daily life and if you know where to go, it can be quite cheap.
More about Montrealiens dishes soon!
Activity nº2: SHOPPING (sorry, I meant MAGASINER)
We’re in November and it’s cold, rainy and windy. A regular thing to do with this weather: go shopping. Now, we’re all familiar with big malls and shops but in Montreal you can LIVE UNDERGROUND! Yep, you can spend the whole day underground and find everything you need without seeing daylight. From banks to restaurants, gym centres, shops, libraries… how cool is that?
Activity nº 3: HIKING
Canadians love nature. Wandering in parcs, hiking the Mont Royal, going outside the city or just on the island next to Montreal. Nothing better than a good and nice bowl of fresh air on a sunny day. You’ll find a lot of activities to do outside, and it can be a great opportunity to meet the locals!
I personally recommend: Mont Royal, the Jean Drapeau parc (very appreciated by the Quebecois, it has swimming pools, playgrounds, the Biosphere, sports facilities… a very nice break from the city), the botanic gardens and l’île de Notre Dame.