Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Montreal - J'ai adore cette ville!

The city of Montreal is in the province of Quebec and is also the largest city in Quebec. The official language of the city is French and it was fascinating to immerse ourselves in the French-Canadian culture. Old and new mingle side by side in this cosmopolitan city with cobbled streets and modern skyscrapers forming the backdrop of the city.

We decided to visit the Basilica de Notre Dame, a beautiful ornate church situated in the historic district of Old Montreal. The interior was very ornate and the grandeur exuded from every pore of the building. This, coupled with the magnificent stained glass windows depicting scenes from Montreal’s religious history created a lavish display.  Celine Dion married husband Rene Angelil here in December 1994.

Also situated in Old Montreal, is Place Jacques Cartier, a beautiful, atmospheric square. Named after Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, the streets are lined with restaurants and street performers. We watched a very brave fire eater, brave not only for breathing in fire but for standing performing for hours in the bitterly cold weather!

Vieux-Port is the Old Port area of Montreal and located here is the ‘Sailor’s Memorial Clock’ or ‘Tour de l’Horloge.’ The tower was built between 1918 and 1922 to commemorate Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. The mechanism inside the clock is an exact replica of the one inside Big Ben in London. Situated on the banks of the St Lawrence River, there are 192 steps to the top to admire the wonderful views. Unfortunately, when we visited we were unable to climb to the top so settled on the views from ground level which were still superb.

We spent a really fun evening exploring the Latin Quarter of the city, or ‘Quartier Latin.’ Lots of cafes and boutiques line the sidewalks and we had a great meal in a lovely pizzeria. Situated around the Universitie du Quebec a Montreal, there is a real lively atmosphere around this cultural area filled with theatres, boutiques and cinemas.

(We stayed at Hostel Montreal Backpackers, 901 Rue Sherbrooke Est www.aubergemontreal.com)

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