Last year in March, I decided to take some time to visit my sister in Canada. It was my first time visiting North America, and, at first, I was a bit worried that the weather would be dreadfully cold and snowy. It was actually way better than I expected and I had a wonderful time.
In this post, I will try to write down what were my favourite things about my week there and about the city in general. We did so many great things and ate so much good food that I can’t possibly go into too much details!
Going on top of the Mont Royal
The city of Montreal takes its name from this small mountain located a bit further from the centre. From there, you have an amazing view of the whole city, its skyscrapers and the Saint Laurent.
Going up there is a small and easy hike if there is no ice on the ground or if you have appropriate shoes. As a Southern European that isn’t used to ice or sub-zero temperatures, I only had my “city” shoes, so the walk was a bit slippery but I still managed to reach the top!
We went there on a nice and sunny day, even though it was incredibly cold, so we were happy to see that a room with warm fireplaces and good heating was located right next to the place where you have the nicest panoramic view!
Walking around the Old Montreal
As I said before, Montreal is a pretty young city, but it still has some historical elements to it, and one of the oldest is the historical neighbourhood of Old Montreal. It was there that the original settlement of Montreal was founded. As a consequence, you can see some “old” buildings that differ greatly from the surrounding skyscrapers, as well as the stunning Notre Dame Basilica, a magnificent church with intricate details and incredible architecture.
In Old Montreal, you can find cute little shops, pubs and cafés, and pretty much the same things as in the rest of the city but in a very different setting. There is also a great variety of things to do and see in this part of the city, which is the most touristic. I really liked walking along the Saint Lawrence River and around the Place Jacques Cartier on a very sunny day, seeing the snow slowly melting away.
The multicultural environment
From Little Italy to the Chinatown, you can find many countries of the world gathered in a single city. You see influences of other countries or continents pretty much everywhere: in the architecture, the buildings, the restaurants, the food you eat, etc.
The recent history of the city, which first developed as a settlement for French settlers in the 16th century, explains the wide diversity of cultures that coexist nowadays. From what I saw, it differed a lot from European cities because the buildings and streets don’t date back to very ancient times, and, with the exception of the “Old Montreal”, everything is quite new.
This can be a bit unsettling for a European at first, but a consequence of that is a mixture of influences from all over the world, and I absolutely love that!
Brunch and food
With a multicultural environment comes a huge variety of food options, that I rejoiced in trying. But I also really wanted to experience more traditional Canadian food, which I happily did.
Of course, I had my daily dose of maple syrup and could enjoy an incredible lunch at a sugar shack, but I also tried delicious bagels and I still get super hungry whenever I think about my first poutine. Yes, we have fries in Belgium, but it is not the same thing!
Another thing that I really enjoyed is what I’d like to call the “brunch culture”. Even though it is slowly coming to Europe and more and more people like to enjoy a Sunday brunch in cool cafés, it is very much in place in North America, and I loved that! From delicious pancakes and tasty eggs cooked in all sorts of ways, I wish I could go out for brunch in Montreal every day!
Cool houses and street art
Another thing that I particularly enjoyed in Montreal was simply the city architecture. Even the most random streets were completely different from one another, and I was amazed by all the street art you could find in some areas, especially in le Plateau.
Walking around, I felt like each neighbourhood had its own characteristics and specific architecture, from streets lined with similar brick houses, to huge skyscraper. There are also some not-so-hidden gems, like the Square Saint Louis, surrounded by colourful and unusual houses, which I really recommend seeing!
There are many more things that I liked about Montreal, and writing this post and looking through the pictures again made me want to go back even more and discover the city in the summer or autumn!
Have you ever been to Montreal? What are your favourite things about this city?
Check out my other post about Canada.– Sugar rush at a sugar shack