“It’s the only place that combines all the good things about Europe and America, with none of the bad.“-anonymous
I visited Montreal for the first time this year and it’s worth mentioning that the city’s got a beautiful and strange vibe to itself. Not that I have visited all other Canadian cities, but Montreal seems to stand out amongst everything else that I have seen till date. No wonder why it’s called a blend of European and North-American culture. Being a non city, non touristy kind of soul, I wasn’t sure as to what I was getting myself into but Montreal has shown me the absolute significance of exploring the streets and local attractions of a destination. You never know what and who you might find, right? So here’s a few things I learned about Montreal:
Montreal is actually an Island
Montreal is located at confluence of St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers which means that it is completely surrounded by water. In fact the island of Montreal is the biggest amongst Hochelaga Archipelago, the group of islands in southern west part of Quebec. Furthermore, Montreal is built on a mountain and the city faces serious direction problems. Read all about Montreal’s fascinating geographical location here : It’s an Island by Jamie O’Meara
No building can be taller than Mont Royal
There is for real a limit upon the heights of building in Montreal. The city’s skyline planning doesn’t allow any construction to be taller than Mount Royal. The idea behind Ville-Marie borough regulation is to maintain the importance of Mount Royal within the urban landscape of Montreal whereby all buildings have to fit within the silhouette of the downtown area.
French is important but you can get by with English just fine
Montreal is bilingual. Although, laws are in place to promote and preserve the French language which Montrealers are very proud of, it is impressive to see how effortlessly localites switch from French to English. Every restaurant or cafe you visit, all you need to say is “hi” for them to realize that you are an anglophone and to be honest there’s nothing wrong with simply asking to be served in English. Don’t get overwhelmed when someone greets you with “Bonjour” because as per formal etiquette, that’s how they are supposed to address you: in French.
That being said, there’s no harm in learning a few common phrases such as “SALUD” and “MERCI”. The locals tend to appreciate if you try and at least greet them in French. You’ll definitely have a better chance at engaging in a conversation if you make an effort in French first.
All the road signs are in French so good luck driving around the city
Even though you don’t need to stress about French in the city’s core, knowing the language totally helps. All the road signs, destination boards, parking instructions along-with everything else is strictly in French. Expect to get a ticket or two if you’re driving without an individual who understands French.
You can’t make a right turn at the red light
You heard me! Don’t make a right turn at a red light because unlike other cities in Canada, it’s actually illegal to do so. There are so many activities happening on the busy streets which is why this rule is still prevalent to protect pedestrians and cyclists from getting into accidents. Tourists are advised to pay attention to this one.
It’s Deps not convenience stores
The convenience stores in Montreal are called Depanneur and you can find everything from bread, snacks, candies to beer and cigarettes. Unlike other provinces, some convenience stores in Quebec are allowed to sell beer and selected spirits.
Free access to museums every first Sunday of the month
Montreal is a creative city with an abundance of museums encompassing both historical and modern artwork. There is a total of 7 museums that are participating with the government’s effort to encourage cultural activities in Montreal. The names are as below:
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Canadian Centre for Architecture
- McCord Museum
- Montreal Holocaust Museum
- Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal
- Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec
- Écomusée de la Maison du fier Monde
There is something to do in every season
Montreal is a hub of festivals. There is always something going on depending on when you decide to go check it out. Montreal Jazz Fest, Oshega Music Fest, Nuit Blance, Just for Laughs Fest are to name a few. Even when it gets freezing, they have igloofest which is probably one of the best musical festivals to occur in the winters. Click here for more information on festivals and events taking place in Montreal.
Graffiti and art scene is huge
Montreal is known for it’s art and artists. Murals and graffiti work can be found in every corner of the city. Municipalities actually support the artists and apparently, the street art changes every now and then. As a matter of fact there is an eleven day event, Montreal’s annual mural festival that celebrates the international urban art movement. The colourful visuals and work defines the vibe of this bustling city.
It is a party city
The legal age for drinking in Montreal is 18 and clubs stay open longer than usual. Restaurants and bars are allowed to serve alcohol unto 3 AM in the morning. Some even call Montreal the sin city of Canada. If you’re thinking of whereabouts to party in Montreal, this guide on Montreal’s nightlife has you covered. Click here!
Fun Fact: I wouldn’t recommend going to Montreal in winters. It’s beautiful but cold. Very cold.