If you wish to travel to France but would rather not cross the Atlantic, head North of the border to Montréal in Canada.
Montréal is a dynamic, cosmopolitan city, an international hub of arts and culture. From its highest point on Mount Royal to the Old Montréal on the waterfront, the city exudes French flair and European allure.
From the moment you arrive, via a short flight or a 6 hour drive, you immediately sense you are in a different country. Colorful billboards blare in French and streets with names such as Rue Sainte-Catherine and Rue Sherbrooke welcome you.
But you don’t have to dust off your high school French to find your way around; most people are bilingual, and English is understood and spoken everywhere.
The people of Montréal, like their brethren in France, have the joie de vivre (joy of life) and celebrate life to its fullest. Their lively spirits come into focus especially during the numerous festivals that engulf the city year round. During these popular events, Montréal’s expansive public spaces and performance halls fill with locals and tourists who come to rejoice and partake in the exciting happenings.
During summer, the International Jazz Festival attracts tens of thousands of music lovers who take in hundreds of concerts and activities on stages small and large, outdoors and indoors.
Additional festivals include the International Fireworks Competition, Just for Laughs, Circus, and numerous others.
In winter, the city embraces the frigid weather with lights festivals, holidays, sports events and other seasonal activities.
The city is dotted with public art displays ranging from classic statues and monuments to contemporary installations. Montréal is also home to major museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, a repository of a permanent collection of art, music, film, fashion and design exhibits, along with seasonal shows such as the current Metamorphoses in Rodin’s Studio (till October 18). Another popular art destination is the Museum of Contemporary Art, showcasing exhibits and cutting edge installations from Canadian and international artists.
The city is also popular for its gastronomic, French inspired cuisine highlighted by celebrated chefs’ restaurants and trendy eateries. Take advantage of the traditional French lunch, table d’hôte, a daily fixed price offering of two to three courses.
With the recent strength of the U.S. Dollar, the city is also a bargain hunter’s paradise. Shoppers enjoy browsing the trendy boutiques along Rue Sainte-Catherine and the designer shops on Rue Saint Paul in the old city. During the winter months, the major shopping and dining activities move to Montréal’s underground city, a network of multi storied malls seamlessly connected by subway lines.
Montréal is home to a variety of hotels for all budgets and tastes ranging from the Ritz-Carlton and Le St. James, to trendy boutique hotels such as the swank Hotel 10.
So if you are looking for an exciting travel destination, head to the exciting city of Montréal. Bon Voyage!