This year I spent my birthday in Montreal. I was at a concert bathed in blue, drinking Labatt Bleue and chanting “Keebek!, keebek!” when the clock struck midnight.
Minutes before, I tried to learn a song called “Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver” (“My country is not a country – it’s winter”), but only after I’d promised my insistent teacher never to sing it outside of Quebec.
Quebec and I share a special day, and I’m glad to have been in Montreal for our day.
From what I’d read and heard, I knew I’d like Montreal; I just didn’t expect to fall in love with the city so easily.
Montreal is charming, traditional, cosmopolitan and quirky, it’s a city with a strong cultural and historic background, and feels small enough to get a lot done in a short visit.
Without an itinerary, we spent our days wandering and discovering; we got lost in neighbourhoods with charming outdoor staircases, walked entire islands until our feet hurt, and found ourselves amidst vibrant crowds in festivals and also stole quiet moments in museums and churches.
And oh the churches! I’ve never seen a city with so many old churches; most of them beautiful and ornate – in Montreal, I learned the difference between a cathedral and a basilica.
I must have taken a million pictures of the unbelievably stunning interior of the Notre Dame of Montreal that I’ll have to share in a separate post. Up on Mount Royal we found the historic St Joseph’s Oratory and the inspiring story of Brother André (also, a post for another day).
Montreal feels like a true multicultural city, diverse in language, architecture, cuisine, culture, etc.
Often referred to as “the most European city in North America”, I expected some Americanized version of Paris, but what I discovered felt more like a metropolis with small-town charm, vibrant thriving neighbourhoods and a strong unique identity, steeped in history.
I’m already looking forward to my next trip; I can’t wait to explore some more and of course, take more photos… it’s a photogenic city too!