It is such a rich historical city that it is not hard to find something to do and enjoy. Montreal is an optimal playground for savoring fine food and wine - with plenty of regional offerings available in restaurants and markets, gambling into a casino, shopping, visiting the many attractions and enjoying the full spirit of love - l'amour.
Montréal is the second largest French speaking city after Paris with 3.4 million inhabitants. It is a center of cultures from around the world with a mosaic of different neighborhoods and gastronomic diversity. Its architectural legacy spread out over four centuries of history – from the French Empire to the present time. Montreal is very cosmopolitan, despite its insular position. This vibrant city is characterized by its impressive atmosphere.
The Old Montreal
Even today, there are still horse carriages rolling the streets of Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal) over the cobblestones houses from the 18th and 19th century. The historical and archaeological museum Pointe-à-Callière, which is next to the museum Marguerite-Bourgeoys is the best insight into the city’s history. The Museum shows artifact collections from the original nations of the area of Montreal that illustrate how many different cultures interacted and coexisted, and how the British and French regimes inclined the history of this country through the years. There you can find 350 years old relics. Very near is located the Notre-Dame Basilica in neo-Gothic style inspired by the rich features of its interior.
Montreal, the second largest city in Canada was founded in 1642. However, several Native American tribes had been settled at the place already for 8000 years. After Paris, the metropolitan area of Montreal also known as “Greater Montreal”, is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Today, Montreal is worldwide famous for being one of the most important cultural centers in Northern America. In addition, the city hosted the Olympic Summer Games in 1976. Since 1967 (with the exception of 2009), the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in Montreal.
Canadian tennis is most definitely booming. Back in the 20th century, the USA dominated the North American and world tennis scene but, in the 21st century, it is Canada which is gunning for domination. The ascendence of Canadian tennis begun with the emergence of Milos Raonic in 2011, however the country’s claim to the tennis crown was properly concreted by the rise of Montreal’s own Eugenie Bouchard, who reached the Wimbledon final in 2014 and, for those who like a gamble, has odds of 8/1 to win the whole thing this year.
My exciting long weekend in Montreal unfortunately had to come to an end. After an exciting day of exploration yesterday that ended with an absolutely delicious dinner at Nuances, the fine dining restaurant at the Casino de Montreal, capped by an impressive pyro-musical performance at La Ronde, I rested up so I would be able to squeeze in a few more hours of discovery this morning. One more exploration of the city before I would have to had back to Toronto on the train before noon.
With all my suitcases duly packed I went off for one more urban adventure. Fortunately checkout wasn’t until noon, so I was able to leave my luggage at the hotel and just head off with my camera and my backpack. I started walking west on Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest which starts off as a fairly small street surrounded by five or six story high older buildings. The first major sight I came across was St. Patrick’s Basilica.
St. Patrick’s Basilica
My personalized tour of the Casino de Montreal was very interesting and taught me many different things that I had never known about casino operations. My learning experience was followed by an opportunity to sample the Casino’s hospitality first hand. Alexandre took me up to the top floor of the Casino and handed me over to Benoît, the restaurant manager at Nuances, the Casino’s gourmet restaurant.
Benoît, the Restaurant Manager at Nuances, and Alexandre, my Casino guide