Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and the second largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. Named for Mont Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city, Montreal, named a UNESCO City of Design in 2006, hosted the 1967 International and Universal Exposition and the 1976 Summer Olympics, and is the home of the Canadian Grand Prix of Formula One, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and the Just for Laughs festival. Founded in 1642, the city’s archaeological history dates back 4,000 years when First Nations native people first occupied the island of Montreal. The city, composed of nineteen boroughs, includes Ville Marie, which includes downtown, Old Montreal, Chinatown, the Gay Village, the Latin Quarter, the Quartier International, and the Quartier des Spectacles, which is still being developed. The city is also home to several sports organizations, including the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, the Montreal Alouettes football team, and the Montreal Impact soccer team.
St-Viateur Bagel & Café Mont-Royal
St-Viateur Bagel in Little Italy, the Mile En, and Outremont was founded in 1957 and remains Montreal’s favorite bagel shop. Cooked in boiling in honey water and baked in a wood-fired oven, St-Viateur hand-rolled bagels have gained international acclaim. The shop, founded by Myer Lewkowicz, who had survived the Holocaust, is now owned by Joe Morena and his three sons, Vincenzo, Nicolò, and Roberto. The bagel recipe, created by Lewkowicz, remains the same as it was in 1957, using 100 percent natural ingredients. St-Viateur Bagel & Café Mont-Royal serves a variety of breakfast and lunch options, such as bagels with peanut butter, jam, cheese, tuna, salmon and Nutella spreads, and sandwiches, such as the à la coque with a cold hard-boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, and pesto or mayo, the traditional with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onions, capers and lemon, and the BLT with bacon, lettuce and tomato with pesto or mayo. St-Viateur also serves soups, salads and a variety of desserts.
Quebec Wine Tour from Montreal
While in Montreal, visitors may want to enjoy either an afternoon or full-day tour of Quebec wine country, which includes stops at two or three wineries. The tour begins with a wine-tasting workshop that teaches participants how to identify flavors and guides them through a blind-tasting experience. The half-day tour features a local cheese tasting, while the full-day tour includes a gourmet lunch. Led by a bilingual English- and French-speaking guide, the wine tour of Quebec’s countryside is a great way to view and photograph Montreal’s spectacular south shore landscapes. The first visit will be to a hillside winery with a guided walk through the vineyard, as well as a peek at the winemaking installations. The second winery will provide a European lunch, as well as time to relax and sample various wines and ciders. Visitors will also be greeted by the owners of the vineyards, who will guide them through the history of the estate and the different winemaking techniques.
Liverpool House, a québécois restaurant in downtown Montreal, is a laid-back bistro, owned by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan and Allison Cunningham, that focuses on innovative meat dishes and fresh seafood. The ever-changing menu features staples such as côte de boeuf and jarret de porc, and oysters, smoked trout and braised rabbit, as well as bold pasta dishes like cavatelli with duck ragu, lobster spaghetti, and osso bucco with saffron risotto. Described by renowned chef Anthony Bourdain as “a significant part of what makes Montreal dangerous – and delicious – to anyone who loves food,” Liverpool House is set in a rustic wood-panelled space with mounted deer heads. The wine list includes fine French wines, while the drink selection showcases signature cocktails like the St-Vincent Sour, made with bourbon and maple syrup.
The best time to visit Montreal is in the late spring and early fall when the temperatures are mildest. The city offers an array of cultural options, including dance and performing arts at Place des Arts, home of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and modern dance troupes like La La La Human Steps, O Vertigo, and the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault, as well as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Métropolitain conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the I Musici de Montréal, a chamber orchestra conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitoun, and the Opéra de Montréal. Most theaters, such as Théâtre du Rideau Vert, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde and Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, feature French-language productions. The city also contains a vast selection of museums, art galleries and exhibition centers, such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée d'art contemporain, the Redpath Museum, the Stewart Museum, the McCord Museum of Canadian History, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History. Science buffs will enjoy the Montreal Biodome, the Montreal Insectarium, the Montreal Botanical Garden, the Montreal Planetarium, the Ecomuseum, the Montreal Science Centre, and the Laval Cosmodome. Let us know how your trip to Montreal goes, and feel free to share your own suggestions.