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  • Last Updated: 23rd May 2017

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Montreal

The charming city of Montreal is located on the Island of Montreal, at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. It’s the largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec and, after Paris, is the largest French-speaking city in the world. Montreal began as the French settlement of Ville-Marie, in 1642. It owes its modern name, which was officially adopted in 1832, to the Mont Royal hill that lies at its centre. Today the hill is covered by an extensive park and offers spectacular views of the city.

Grand old buildings and historic neighbourhoods

Several of the city’s museums include artefacts and exhibits that help tell the tale of Montreal’s history, beginning centuries ago with settlements by the indigenous First Nations people, and progressing through its occupation by both the French and the British.

The neighbourhood of Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal) includes remarkably well-preserved French colonial buildings, some dating as far back as the 17th Century, along with cobblestone streets and gracious public squares.

Montreal is home to Canada’s largest church, St. Joseph’s Oratory. Also not to be missed are the Notre-Dame Basilica, with its imposing neo-Gothic façade and colourful interior, and the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, built in 1894.

Today Montreal is known not just for its older buildings but for innovative modern design. In 2006, it was named a UNESCO City of Design, along with only two other cities in the world.

City of festivals

No matter when you’re in the city, there’s a good chance your visit will coincide with one of Montreal’s over 90 annual festivals. Among these is the world-famous Montreal International Jazz Festival, which attracts as many as 2.5 million visitors.

As well as hugely popular music festivals, there are festivals to celebrate world cinema, dance, literature, the visual arts and comedy, changes in the seasons and fine food and wine.

In mid-summer, you can enjoy spectacular fireworks displays over the St. Lawrence River and in winter, Montreal transforms itself into a wonderland with its Winter Carnival.

Other travel pages about the destination: Flights to Montreal | Montreal holidays

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Montreal highlights not to miss

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    A day spent ambling through Vieux-Montréal, enjoying its beautiful old buildings and relaxing at sidewalk cafés.

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    A visit to the Montreal Biodôme, where you can experience South American rainforest, North American wilderness, the marine animals and ecosystems of the Saint Lawrence and a visit to the icy Arctic and Antarctic, all in a single day.

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    The chance to try poutine – greasy chips smothered in gravy and cheese curds – in the city where it was first created.

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    An outing to Montreal Botanical Garden, which is one of the largest and most impressive in the world.

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    If you visit in winter, excellent opportunities for skiing, tobogganing and skating, followed by warming up in one of the city’s many excellent pubs or cafés.