Jacques Cartier landed here in 1535 and promptly took the territory for his King, François I of France. Some 500 years later and Montréal has grown to become the second largest French-speaking city in the world. The Montréalers’ famous joie de vivre permeates everything here. Positively bubbling with energy and activity, this magnificent metropolis is all about great food and living well.
If Toronto is Canada’s economic capital, Montréal is the country’s cultural hub. Aside from its 250 theatre and dance companies, it also hosts an incredible 100 international festivals each year. The Jazz Festival may be the headliner, but there’s a plethora of gatherings dedicated to world cinema, comedy and gay pride.
An intriguing mix of old European elegance and contemporary design, a day’s stroll will uncover many gems, whether it’s the gorgeous 18th-century facades of Old Montréal, the scenic charms of the Canal de Lachine or Plateau Mont-Royal with its twisting spiral staircases and fascinating antique shops and art galleries.
Reflecting its rich cultural heritage, Montréal enjoys more than its fair share of boutique hotels, but if you really want to push the boat out then look no further than the Ritz-Carlton Montréal. Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon and the Rolling Stones have all stayed here, whilst it was back in 1964 that Elizabeth Taylor famously married Richard Burton in her suite after giving staff just two hours’ notice.
Although summer sees the most visitors descending on this unique and historic city, winter events such as Montréal en Lumière, one of the world’s largest winter festivals, are well worth digging out your thermals for. And even when temperatures do plummet, the brilliant Underground City, a massive maze of passageways that lead all over downtown Montréal, means you can check out countless shops, eateries and cinemas all without having to step outside!
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