Bonjour! Welcome to Montreal, where French is the official language and spoken by upwards of 67% of the population of this sophisticated city of 2 million people.
Montreal is known for many cultural and social events, and throughout the seasons there’s always a party going on here! The vibrant downtown area plays host to the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, the International Jazz Festival, the Montreal World Film Festival, Les Franco Follies de Montreal, Nuits d’Afrique, Pop Montreal, and the family-friendly celebration known as the Montreal Fireworks Festival that lights the summer skies with bursts of brilliant colors.
From performing arts to exhibitions and interesting museums there are plenty of entertainment options to choose from in Montreal. The Parc Mont-Royal is one of the city’s largest and most lush green spaces with a welcoming semicircular plaza and chalet. From there, families can head in several directions to enjoy the man-made lake, visit the sculpture garden or the interpretive center, and in winter months take a run down the short ski slope. Over 20,000 plant species and 31 specialized gardens are the draw to the Jardin Botanique de Montreal, an enchanting botanical garden situated in close proximity to Montreal’s Olympic Park. Montreal has made good use of the structures that were filled with cheering spectators when the city welcomed the 1976 Olympic Games. The former stadium is now home to Biodome de Montreal, a fascinating display consisting of four ecological habitats: rainforest, polar, marine, and forest. Here you can see the plants and animal life native to each specific ecosystem. Take a peek at polar penguins and puffins, then move on to meet up with tropical monkeys and vividly-colored parrots.
There are 50 National Historic Sites of Canada in and around Montreal. In Old Montreal, the architecture and cobbled streets have been carefully maintained or restored, and visitors love exploring the area perched high aboard one of the many horse-drawn carriages that tour the streets. Historic buildings in their original form add to the authenticity and appeal of the area, giving a nostalgic glimpse back in time. Some of the best-preserved buildings here are Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica, Bonsecours Market, and the impressive row of bank buildings dating back to the 19th century that still line the beautiful Rue Saint Jacques.
As in other Canadian cities, sports are a prominent feature in the lives of Montreal’s citizens, and the undisputed king of sports is hockey. The city’s professional hockey team is revered: the iconic Montreal Canadians can claim bragging rights to an NHL-record 24 Stanley Cup championships. Home games for the team are Montreal’s great love and longest ongoing party.