Once a remote fur-trading post, Montreal is now a thriving modern city brimming with Old World charm.
Author Maura Egan Photography Peter Frank Edwards
YOU MAY WANT TO PRACTICE YOUR FRENCH IN MONTREAL, the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, but don’t worry—it won’t be on the test. Most residents speak English. That’s the nature of this beguiling Quebecois city. It’s an anything-goes, old-meets-new kind of place. Modern glass skyscrapers edge up against 18th century Beaux Arts buildings, and the old town’s European grandeur is balanced out by funky new cafés, a thriving university scene and booming nightclubs in up-and-coming neighborhoods like Mile End and the Plateau.
The city abounds with examples of thoughtful urban planning, including underground shopping malls, for those cold winters, and lush parks in which to enjoy the summers. But visitors can still glimpse an earlier time, especially among the canals and warehouses lining the St. Lawrence River. Montreal is a city of distinct neighborhoods and fiercely proud character. There’s no better way to see it than strolling its narrow streets. You’ll uncover upscale boutiques and historic sites, often right next door to each other, and breathe in the heady aroma of french fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds, the ingredients of poutine, Montreal’s signature dish, which is served in even the swankiest joint. It may not sound so appealing, but it’s quite good. And yes, it will be on the test.