Once part of the French colonial empire, Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city and primarily French speaking. The old town — Vieux-Montreal — is one of the best-preserved historic centres in North America. It can trace its roots back to 1605, when a public square, known as Place Royale, was established as a fur-trading post.
South of Old Montreal is the redeveloped Old Port, which today offers numerous recreational attractions.
Further evidence of Montreal’s European roots can be found in one of its trendiest neighbourhoods, Le Plateau. An industrial hub in the mid-19th century, the area housed many of the city’s factory workers, some of whom were new immigrants. After the second world war it became a settling place for immigrants from Greece and Portugal. By the 1980s, it was attracting artists and performers who added colour to the quarter’s row houses and wrought-iron staircases.
With its quirky decor, L’Avenue, an upmarket brunch spot, captures how hip the area has become.
Protected cycle lanes
Despite Montreal’s hilly terrain, thoughtful planning means cycling in the city is an extremely pleasant experience. More than a third of its 400 miles of cycle lanes are separated from motor traffic. Bixi Montreal, a public bike-sharing scheme, launched in 2009.
While many regard poutine(french fries with cheese curd and gravy) as the pinnacle of Québecois cuisine, there are many fine-dining options in Montreal. One of the city’s best restaurants is Le Club Chasse et Pêche (“Le Club” to regulars) whose signature dish is steak and lobster.
At Au Pied de Cochon, celebrity chef Martin Picard is known for his “duck in a can”.
Formula One Grand Prix
Montrealers wholeheartedly embrace motorsports, and the Grand Prix weekend each June marks the unofficial start of summer. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix.
The track is located on an artificial island in the St Lawrence River (opposite the Old Port) and is named after Gilles Villeneuve, the father of former Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve.
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