pointofdeparture UltimaDork
6/1/20 9:00 a.m.

As a midwesterner, Montreal is relatively close, flights are cheap and it's even a (relatively) reasonable drive.  Somehow I have had tickets to the Canadian GP twice and managed to not go both times. With the COVID border shutdown and everything else, I'm now regretting not making a stronger effort to go when I had the chance.

If all this craziness ever subsides and the border re-opens for tourism, I would like to go visit the city (without GP plans this time) and see what it has to offer. I speak a small amount of French (two years in high school, year in college) and would try to brush up on it before going.

Has anyone here ever been that can offer some tips, suggestions, or general commentary?

edwardh80 Reader
6/1/20 9:15 a.m.

It's a pretty cool city. I go there reasonably often for work. Go check out the old part of town, eat a crepe for breakfast, eat Montreal smoked meat poutine for dinner. Mont Royal (the "mountain" after which the city is named) is a lovely walking area. If you have a significant other who likes shopping, Rene-Levesque Boulevard has plenty of shopping, and there's lots of good food joints. Go do it.

fanfoy SuperDork
6/1/20 9:20 a.m.

I've lived in and around Montreal most of my life, so ask away.

If you stay on the island, you will not need to speak any French.

What did you have in mind for a visit? Museums? night life? Sight-seeing? 

ShawnG UltimaDork
6/1/20 9:23 a.m.

The Habs suck.

pointofdeparture UltimaDork
6/1/20 9:32 a.m.

In reply to fanfoy :

Nothing specific, probably a little of everything. We're not the "Instagram ourselves at as many famous places as possible" type of travelers but we certainly enjoy sightseeing and enjoying good food and drink when we travel. We find that getting out of our comfort zone and exploring a new place without a specific agenda is often pretty enjoyable in and of itself.

In the back of our minds, SWMBO and I have heavily discussed relocating and my large corporate employer has a presence in Montreal; obviously we wouldn't be basing any decisions on a single visit as tourists, but we would like to get some kind of a feel for the "real" city while we're there.

fanfoy SuperDork
6/1/20 9:44 a.m.

In reply to ShawnG :

Typical Canucks fan...cheeky

6/1/20 9:46 a.m.

Go. You will like it. Food can be outstanding even on a low budget. The ambulant fauna is amazing so go when it is warm and they are not cloaked in winter plumage. No real need for French, and your school French would not help much anyway since they have their own interpretation of the language; like Parisians, no points for trying.

Driving is interesting if you are not comfortable with big city driving. Whatever the rules of the road are they seem to be a well kept secret.

fanfoy SuperDork
6/1/20 10:10 a.m.

In reply to pointofdeparture :

If you just want to wander around, Old Montreal is a good place to start. It's pretty, easy to walk and if you go the the pier, there are a lot of activities to do. It's an expensive area and you don't want to be driving there. It's always crowded and touristic, but for a good reason.

Another nice place to walk is on Mount-Royal. The Kondiaronk Belvedere gives a nice view of the city center.

There are a couple of streets that define Montreal. Sainte-Catherine street is probably the one that gives you the broadest feel of the city. It has the rich english neighborhood at it's West end, the poor French neighborhood at it's East end and passes right thru the heart of the city. Also very crowded, but will give you a good idea of Montreal.

If you want to experience the French-Canadian culture, you have to go on the Plateau Mont-Royal. It's in and around the intersection of Saintt-Denis and Mont-Royal streets. Between the Lafontaine and Jeanne-Mance parks. That's the area of all the artisty types. 

I can recommend a few poutine places but it's a very personal taste. My girlfriend and I are at the opposite end of the poutine spectrum. But honestly, Montreal has so much better to offer as far as food. If you go on Duluth street, there are a lot of good choices.

If you want to know anything more specific, don't hesitate.

1SlowVW Reader
6/1/20 11:22 a.m.

Montreal is fun, hit up Swartz or Lesters for a smoked meat sandwich. Lots of really good microbrew to be found.. Like others have said it's a good city to wonder in. Don't worry about French too much. I'm fluent in both but speak mostly English when I go because of my wife is not as comfortable in French as I am. 
If you offered me a weekend in any major Canadian city Montreal is hard to beat. (Haven't been to Vancouver yet though...).

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/1/20 11:29 a.m.

Even if you needed to speak french, your European French would only help you very modestly.  Learning french and then going to Quebec is like learning English and then going to Louisiana.  It's technically English, but so far removed from London or Cleveland that it is hard to understand if it's your second language.  Canadian French is much like that.  I took french for 8 years because I live in Canada in the summers and it has helped me very little.

Montreal is a fantastic town.  It has probably been 20 years since I was there.  When I was there, Biddle's was still open and owned by Charlie Biddle.  He's dead now.  I think his daughter, Natalie still performs there.  It was a great, old-school jazz club/restaurant.

Try to catch some live music.  Montreal really has it's own brand of Jazz and singer/songwriter.  I lived in Austin and it seemed like a fantastic music town... until I went to Montreal.  Austin felt like a music popularity machine, but Montreal has real, gritty, unique styles in music.

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
6/1/20 2:52 p.m.

Pasta Napoli on Ste. Denis in the Latin Quarter. Nuff said.

Don't attempt French unless very fluent. They will look down on you. Unlike Quebec City where they play along and are much less stuck up.

Walk North on St. Catherine's for some interesting human sights. It is a big multinational city. Not like Toronto but still.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/1/20 3:16 p.m.

Quebecers can understand European French, but the other way around can be a challenge. The language is a bit like the Newfoundland outports, an old dialect that's been left alone and has evolved into something different.  

Montreal has a HUGE jazz festival if you time your visit right. I think you also have to stop by the churches, like any European city.

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
6/1/20 3:43 p.m.

Good looking peelers, too.

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/1/20 9:41 p.m.

We visited last fall. during a multi-week ramble along the St. Lawrence River from Kingston to Tadoussac. It's a big city, and i'm not much of a big-city guy.  I can say that driving an hour or so in any direction there are so many neat sights.  For the record, we were able to drive on about 3/4 of the GP track.  That gives you a whole new perspective of what it must be like to race in a concrete tunnel.

Our previous experiences were only racing at Mosport or enjoying the best side of Niagara Falls.  Now,after that extended trip we were totally impressed with the whole experience and especially the people we met all along the way.

ShawnG UltimaDork
6/1/20 10:46 p.m.
Streetwiseguy said:

Good looking peelers, too.

She ain't pretty, she just looks that way.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/1/20 11:06 p.m.
NOHOME said:

The ambulant fauna is amazing so go when it is warm and they are not cloaked in winter plumage.

Warm is relative, it seems that in Montreal the rule is "ice gone, skirts on" laugh

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/2/20 6:13 a.m.

It's been a long time since we've been there, but loved it.  

Food is amazing- so much so that you will have to pick and choose what you want to eat.  Like we found out that there's a special corned beef area, too.

It's been over 20 years since we've been there, and were hoping to go back and get on a cruise from there.  But who knows if that will happen, now.

Enjoy your trip, we loved it.  And I would also suggest looking into Quebec City- especially the old part of town there.  There's some serious North American histoiry in Quebec City, too- between the English and French and English and US.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
6/3/20 7:01 a.m.

I go home to rural Quebec most summers, but I haven't been into Montreal in over 20 years. Maybe I'll fix that later this summer.

Mazdax605 PowerDork
6/3/20 8:19 a.m.
ShawnG said:

The Habs suck.

He's right you know.

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