Montreal Holidays

‘Parlez-vous Francais?’, is a phrase which you may hear from time to time while on your Montreal holiday, as French is Montreal’s official first language and spoken at home by over half the city’s population. As one of Canada’s most bilingual cities, 56% of the populace speak both English and French, making it the second largest French-speaking city in the world, only after Paris.
While knowing some basic French phrases will put you over with the locals, there is no need to worry about studying to become a fluent French speaker before you head off on your Montreal holidays, as nearly all signs are written in English, while the local people will also be more than happy to speak English to visitors. The city’s welcoming atmosphere and diverse culture earned it the title of North America’s leading host city for international events from the International Congress and Convention Association.

It‘s the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. So, if the answer is ‘oui’, bon! If ‘non’, you’ll be OK. Montreal is rated a Beta+ world city. It’s one of three UNESCO Cities of Design. And it houses 50 National Historical Sites of Canada. The Montreal World Film Festival is one of Canada’s oldest festivals and the city hosts over 100 smaller festivals each year. So come to celebrate life’s diversity. And the city’s architectural diversity too. Montreal was once Canada’s industrial and financial centre. The legacy is a range of factories, mills, warehouses and refineries. Some buildings date back to the 16th and 17th centuries including Notre Dame Basilica (1687) and Chateau Ramezay (1705). Le Ber-Le Moyne House is the oldest complete building in the city. Check out La Ville Souterraine (The Underground City) – a series of interconnected offices, hotels, shopping centres, residential and commercial complexes, universities and performing arts venues. The perfect place to see ‘tout le monde’.

If there is one thing that Montreal is renowned for, it is the abundance of beautiful and diverse architecture that is spread throughout the city. Montreal was once considered Canada’s main industrial and financial centre thanks in no small part to its busy harbor which allowed goods to be shipped to and transported across Canada easily. This, in turn, allowed the city to become industrialised quickly. Despite having been overtaken by Toronto in terms of economic strength during the 1970s, Montreal’s industrial legacy lives on in the form of a range of factories, mills, warehouses and refineries which stand to this day.

Some of Montreal’s beautiful buildings date all the way back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the city’s more famous and iconic looking buildings include the Notre Dame Basilica (1687) and the Chateau Ramezay museum (1705). Le Ber-Le Moyne House is the oldest complete building in the city, having first been built in 1669. Le Ber-Le Moyne House is just one of Montreal’s 50 National Historical Sites of Canada. With 171 National Historical Sites spread across the entire country, Montreal boasts more of them than any other city. The uniqueness of Montreal’s wonderful architecture has helped earn it the recognition of being named as one of only three UNESCO Cities of Design in the entire world.

Of course, not all of Montreal’s amazing architecture is very old, or based above ground for that matter! La Ville Souterraine (also known as ‘The Underground City’) consists of 12 kilometres’ worth of underground tunnels. A marvel of modern engineering, this subterranean ‘city’ has everything people could need, from residential accommodation, office blocks and shopping malls, to universities, convention halls and even performing arts venues. As the Underground City forms the heart of Montreal’s central business district, it is often referred to as ‘Downtown Montreal’ by the locals.

Montreal’s culture is every bit as diverse as its architecture, and to celebrate this wonderful diversity, the city hosts upward of a hundred individual festivals every year. The oldest of these is the Montreal World Film Festival which has taken place in the late August of every year since 1977. With a focus on showcasing the best new films from around the world annually, the festival puts on approximately 400 films per year and brings in an estimated $21 million in revenue to the local economy on an annual basis.

Montreal is also home to the world’s largest international comedy festival. Taking place every July for two weeks, the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival has been running since 1983. Some of the legendary comedic acts to grace the Just For Laughs stage and make names for themselves at the festival include luminaries such as Jim Carrey, Kelsey Grammer, Steven Wright and John Candy. To this day, it is the one comedy festival above all others that the world’s comedians dream of performing at.

The Montreal Canadians of the National Hockey League (NHL) are far and away the city’s most well-known and decorated sports team, having won upward of twenty Stanley Cups and Division Championships respectively. The Canadians play their home games at the Centre Bell (formerly known as the ‘Molson Centre’ and ‘New Montreal Forum’), which can house upward of 21,000 people during hockey matches.

Montreal’s Major League Soccer team, Montreal Impact has achieved a real surge in terms of popularity thanks to the signing of some quality football players from abroad in recent years, including Italian forward Marco Di Vaoio, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Argentinian midfielder Ignacio Piatti. Impact play their home games in the 20,000 seater Saputo Stadium.

Motorsports have proven to be hugely popular in Montreal, with the annual Formula One Canadian Grand Prix being held here as well as the NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 and the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series Montreal 200 also taking place in the city.

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