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Montreal, the Paris of North America

by Alisse Dawn Houweling

Often considered to be the Paris of North America, Montreal is a destination that every traveler should explore.  Set against the backdrop of a modern North American cityscape, this former French colony has become a vibrant cosmopolitan city that pulsates with life and offers endless opportunities to enjoy good food, diverse cultures and exciting nightlife all over the city. 

Montreal’s historical European roots permeate the city from the cobblestone streets, squares and buildings found in the old port where the first colonists landed and continue to influence the lifestyle of Montrealers today.  Consequently, Montreal is not just a city offering travelers a plethora of attractions.  It is a city offering travelers a lifestyle in addition to attractions. 

Montreal is sitting at a café sipping a café latte while reading the news.  Montreal is nibbling on a baguette sandwich while taking in the sculptures interspersed between the modern architecture located in the downtown core, or admiring the graffiti art all over the Plateau.  But perhaps more importantly, Montreal is about relaxing and enjoying the day in anticipation of an evening of nightlife in one of the many pubs or clubs around the city.  

During the summer months this nightlife explodes onto the streets as the Montreal festival schedule reaches its peak.  Day after day city blocks are cordoned off and intersections are transformed into stages as the party is taken outdoors.  Generally free, the outdoor shows are scheduled into the wee hours of the morning and provide fabulous entertainment reflecting the theme of each festival.  Annual festivals include the world renowned Montreal International Jazz Festival, The Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, The Fringe Festival and Festival de la Francophonie, Festival du nouveau monde and Festival des nuits d’afriques.

With so much nightlife, packing in the attractions, in addition to the lifestyle, can be quite a challenge.  However, there are many attractions well worth a few days of sleep deprivation.  These attractions include Old Montreal, Notre Dame Basilica, St.- Joseph’s Oratory, the Biodome, the Botanical Gardens, the Insectarium, Mont Royal Park, the Olympic Park, McGill University, the underground malls and the St-Viateur Bagel factory.    

With so much to see, do and experience in Montreal it is no wonder that tourists return year after year.  An exciting and affordable destination, this city should be a part of every traveler’s itinerary. 

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