When you arrive in Montreal, you’ll be greeted with a hearty “bonjour” — or “bonsoir.” Though you’ll have no trouble navigating the city in English, French is the official language of business in Quebec province, and it’s fiercely protected — from signage to street names.
Montreal began as the French colony Ville-Marie in 1642. During the Seven Years’ War, French troops surrendered the city to the British in the Conquest of 1760. This history looms large in Montreal and throughout Quebec, a province known as much for defending its French Canadian identity as for its signature dish, poutine — french fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy.
Use this guide to discover Montreal’s truly unique character and identity.
How to Get There
Drive about 10 miles northeast from Montreal Trudeau Airport
If you’d rather wait to pick up your car once you’re in town, take the AirConnect shuttle to Dorval Station and the train to Central Station, where you can collect your keys at the Alamo location just around the corner at Montreal Stanley Street.
What to See and Do
Explore the City’s Origins at Pointe-à-Callière
Start your visit at Pointe-à-Callière, a museum of history and archeology on the original site of Fort Ville-Marie — the administrative heart of the French settlement when Montreal was founded. Paid parking is available at nearby Old Port and in lots around Old Montreal. Upon arrival, you’ll be directed into an auditorium overlooking the remnants of a 17th-century cemetery, the city’s first Catholic resting place. After a kid-friendly multimedia show, including three-dimensional projection mapping onto the ruins below, head downstairs to check out the main exhibits, which include artifacts from indigenous First Nations tribes and the recently discovered remains of Fort Ville-Marie.