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Panoramic shot of Montréal skyline and the Saint-Lawrence River
19 February, 20202 minute read

Bienvenue a Montréal - an introduction to the city

The history and heritage of Canada come to life in the city of Montreal - a frontier settlement that’s grown into one of North America’s most vibrant cultural capitals. Our tours to Montreal focus on the city’s significance, and immerse visitors in the charm and character flowing through every street.

For thousands of years, First Nations people occupied an island on the St Laurence River. In 1611, French explorer Samuel de Champlain established the first European settlement on the here - a trading post known as ‘Ville Marie’. The outpost fell under British rule in 1760 and was incorporated into the city of Montreal in 1832. Over the next century, Montreal became one of North America’s best-known cultural and political hubs but, throughout years of modernisation, retained a strong historic and Gallic identity.

Nowhere is this identity more visible than in Old Montreal, a district of the city which dates back to the 17th century. Walking tours of Old Montreal bring visitors to famous attractions like the Old Port, a sprawling waterfront and green space, and the Place Jacques-Cartier, a gathering place for artists and musicians with lots of fine restaurants and bars. Museums are located throughout Old Montreal and highlights include the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, the oldest stone church in Montreal; and The Museum of Archaeology and History which looks back to the time of the city’s first settlement on the banks of the St Laurence.

Montreal’s charm extends downtown. Visitors experience the modern side of the city - with glossy skyscrapers, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and The Underground City, an impressive subterranean network of malls, food courts, cinemas and boutiques. For nature lovers, the city is home to the Insectarium, the Botanic Gardens and the Biodome, formerly the Olympic Velodrome now converted to showcase a variety of ecosystems.

When your day comes to an end, Montreal offers a mouth-watering variety of food and drink. The city claims to have the largest concentration of restaurants in North America, so the choice is vast: Quebecois cuisine draws heavily on French influence, which includes rich flavours and fine wines - but visitors should not have to look far to find a classic American steakhouse or burger joint. A must-try is the traditional fast food dish ‘poutine’ - an indulgent mix of chips, gravy and cheese curds.

Montreal is a quintessential gateway to Canada and, if you are thinking of embarking on your own North American adventure, make sure you plan your time in the city carefully - there’s plenty to squeeze in!

Image of blog author Jenny Chaplin

Jenny’s passion for culture and wildlife has taken her across the world. Favourite experiences so far have included snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, sailing on the Ganges in Varanasi, hiking through Norway and spending many hours on safari in Kenya and India spotting a menagerie of wonderful creatures.

Jenny | About the author

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