Montréal was founded in 1642 and named after Mount Royal, a triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city. Centuries-old stone facades, traditional bistros and elegant boulevards make Montréal's reputation as a loving and warm city well deserved, with the exception of the harsh winter and sub-zero temperatures, of course.
Indeed, most tourists shy away from visiting this francophone metropolis during the months of December through March. But the braves who can tolerate the snow and the runny nose will be surprised to find a number of indoor activities to enjoy, like hockey games at the Bell Centre, theatre and musical performances throughout the city, and the interconnected “underground city” of shopping centres in downtown Montréal. For more mild temperatures, summers in Montréal are sunny, and occasionally humid, while spring and fall bring bright, breezy days and crisp weather. All perfect weather for outdoors activates such as strolling thought the cobbled lanes of Vieux-Montréal, take a hike on Mont-royal for the stunning panoramic view on the city or exploring the Vieux-Port and challenge yourself on the MTL zipline.
As an Old World City, Montreal is a melting pot of cultures from France, Italy, China and Caribbean. This diversity is reflected by the numerous attractions scatter thought the metropolis.
Place des Arts
Featuring an impressive program of music, theatre, dance, opera, song, comedy, and musicals all year round, Place des Arts is located in the cultural heart of the city, the Quartier des spectacles. As Canada's premiere entertainment destination, the centre has six venues, including the Maison Symphonique, with a total seating capacity of nearly 8,000. Place des Arts offers an extraordinary variety of programming, hosting major arts organizations, such as the Opéra de Montréal and the Grands Ballets Canadiens. Place des Arts' outdoor esplanade is the meeting place for great festivals, and just next door is the renowned Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MACM).
Mount Royal Park
Majestically rising up in the middle of the city, Mount Royal (“the mountain” to locals) is a symbol of the city’s heritage, history, geography, and inspiration, hosting founding institutions, beautiful hillside cemeteries, and Mount Royal Park, a 4-season playground. Inaugurated in 1876, Mount Royal Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame.
It is a magnificent urban green space featuring 200 hectares of astonishing biodiversity and natural beauty. Green, clean and refreshing, the mountain is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. The urban wildlife (a.k.a. Montréalers) is abundant and active all year round in a host of recreational pursuits: jogging, cycling, boating, skating, skiing, and tobogganing, not to forget bird watching, dog walking, picnicking and soaking up some rays. With three locations in the heart of the park (Smith House, the Chalet and the Beaver Lake Pavilion), the Café des Amis offers a wonderful place to enjoy a bite while taking in the scenery. And to take home a memento of the mountain, two gift shops offer a selection of original gifts or souvenirs.
Skyscrapers and Victorian mansions, lovely shops and neo-Gothic churches: downtown is all contrasts and constant bustle. Between the river and Mount Royal, downtown is the heart of the metropolis, a concentration of the hectic life of the various communities who live there. People go there to work, study, shop, dance, go to the movies, dine, have a drink or simply stroll. Downtown is where everything happens and everyone converges, at dawn, at noon and at midnight. When summer comes, blocks are closed to traffic to make a place for festival-goers.