French and English, European and North American: Montreal is a city full of eclectic influences. It's the kind of seductive multi-cultural mish mash you’ll stumble across all too rarely on your travels. Hip and quirky, Montreal’s an exciting place to be, a city that’s overcome its traditional cultural clashes to form something new and different, and it's all the more thrilling for it.
You’ll find this in the shambolic, multi-faceted streets, where art deco buildings compete for space amongst the aging, old world charm. Antique stores and contemporary music venues keep you busy, and an extraordinarily varied cuisine, which is layered with international influences, sate the most varied of palettes (you can even take a few lessons, too, if you’re a bit of a culinary afficionado).
Montreal is more about atmosphere and playful quirks than sights, but there are a few of them worth wandering along to. Try climbing Mount Royal as the sun goes down to watch the city flicker to life, or explore the elegant neo-gothic architecture of the Notre Dame Basilica in Vieux-Montreal. The shopping scene will draw you in, too, and is best explored amongst ‘The Underground City’, a huge linked world of malls and boutique fashion stores that will have keen shoppers disappearing into the depths until closing time.
The twin forces that are the contemporary and fine arts museums are both housed in appropriately impressive buildings, while you’ll find other assorted alluring galleries and enticing entertainment centers scattered about downtown. Then there’s the mischievous nightlife, varied but tolerant and fun, that keeps Montreal on a par with its major national rivals when it comes to both entertainment and atmosphere. The local indie music scene is all but impossible to ignore, with locals Arcade Fire's debut album 'Funeral' being nominated by numerous publications as the album of the decade, and plenty more enticing acts following in their footsteps.
It might have struggled with its mixed background and unclear identity in the past, but these days Montreal revels in them, and finds itself at the heart of Canada’s entertainment and cultural scenes. Eat like a king, party like there’s no tomorrow and explore a city that’s well and truly found its feet.
Dorval is a suburb of Montreal. It is where the Montreal Trudeau airport is located.