Destination Information - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Montreal (Montréal) is unique in North America, blending a brash New World urbanity with the romantic charm of its European-flavoured historic districts and a Gallic sense of joie de vivre evident in the city’s many pavement cafés and dynamic nightlife.
Although its downtown skyscrapers are a testament to the economic clout of Canada’s second largest city, visitors are more likely to be drawn by the promise of a horse-drawn calèche ride along the cobbled streets of Old Montreal near the St Lawrence River or around Mount Royal, the city’s landmark.
Montreal is situated on an island, 50km by 16km (31 miles by 10 miles), sandwiched between the Rivière des Prairies and the St Lawrence River. When Jacques Cartier first ‘discovered’ the island in 1535, it was already inhabited – the Iroquois village of Hochelaga stood at the foot of Mount Royal.
Montreal is home to a cosmopolitan mix of immigrants from around the globe, all of whom contribute to the rich cultural heritage and lively atmosphere of the city. This is never more evident than during one of the frequent large-scale festivals celebrated in downtown Montreal, notably the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, when tens of thousands of revellers fill the streets each day.
The best time to visit Montreal is in the summer, when even the nights can be sultry and the whole city seems to be partying, as the festival season moves into high gear. The cooler autumns bring out the colours in the leaves and are a great time to visit the forested Laurentians or the rolling hills of the Eastern Townships.