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Canada: Destination Guides - Must read

City guide: Montreal, Québec (Canada)

Learn about the largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec, Montreal...

Montreal, Canada
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An introduction to Montreal

Montreal is located in Quebec on an island in the Saint Lawrence River. It is the 2nd largest city in Canada and home to the largest French-speaking community in the world aside from France itself. French is the official first language of the city (specifically Quebec French which varies from the French spoken in France). However over half of Montreal’s population are bi-lingual which means they can speak both French and English.

 

 

 

 

If you thought New Orleans had the largest French soul in North America, then you haven’t seen anything yet! Montreal boasts the kind of architecture which you would normally expect in mainland Europe, but with a contemporary, edgy twist. In fact the city is home to some of the oldest urban areas in North America, namely ‘Old Montreal’ in the southeast which dates back to the 17th century. At one time Montreal was the industrial and financial centre of Canada, which is evident in the old factories, mills and refineries which make up the city (many of which have been converted for new purposes like restaurants and bars).

 

 

A quick tour of Montreal

Take in the city’s old charm on foot along the cobblestone streets. There are over 50 National Historic Sites of Canada in Montreal alone. Several of these are old churches and cathedrals such as the Notre-Dame Roman Catholic Church / Basilica, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense and St. Patrick's Basilica; hence the nickname gives to Montreal by Mark Twain, ‘The City of a Hundred Bell Towers’. They truly are spectacular!

 

Other National Historic Sites including the Bank of Montreal, the Lachine Canal and the Montreal Forum; so you won’t run out of spots to visit and explore.

 

You must pop into one of the cute bistros for a side of poutine, a local favourite of chips with cheese curds and gravy. If poutine doesn’t sound too appetising to you, consider a bagel from an authentic wood fired oven; or Shish Taouk which is a bit like street-bought chicken shawarma. There’s so much choice in Montreal which surely has one of the most buzzing food scenes in North America boasting pubs, delis, patisseries and hipster bars all in one place.

 

Festivals come to Montreal all the time to satisfy the residents’ cravings for culture and the arts, with over a hundred in town each year. Plateau Mont-Royal should be your go-to spot for a walk on the funky side with boutiques, murals, shops and cafes to make you go ‘wow’ (or at least ‘hmmm, interesting.....’). To further indulge your artistic side, head down town to the Golden Square Mile where some of the country’s most affluent citizens (mostly powerful Scots who wielded great influence) once resided until more businesses moved into the area during the Depression of the 1930s. You’ll be in awe of the architecture on show while you can also check out the various art galleries located here such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

 

 

Where can you study in Montreal?

One of Canada’s most respected and highly-ranked universities, McGill University is located in Montreal – the main campus is situated in the downtown area at the foot of Mount Royal. Additionally, Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Montréal and Concordia University are located in the city too.

 

 

Your Montreal playlist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Montreal movies to watch

  • Jesus de Montreal
  • Montréal Vu Par... 

  • Taking Lives

  • Good Neighbors

  • The Score

 

Montreal has a thriving film industry and is used as a main filming location for many big American TV shows and films. The following films have all been filmed in Montreal: 300, The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can, Lucky Number Slevin and The Notebook. Watch them and see if any of the settings look familiar to you when you’re studying in Montreal!

 

 

Start searching for a course in Montreal, or simply in Canada, now

 

Not interested in Vancouver? Learn more about Toronto instead.

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About Author

Montreal, Canada

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.