As days begin to get shorter, the thermometer drops and the leaves begin to fall, my head always turns to thoughts of warm sandy beaches and crystal blue lagoons, but as good as that hot sun will feel on my skin, it’s always going to be painful on my wallet. Seeing as how it’s winter for 6 months here in the great white north, I thought I’d focus this week on one of Canada’s most iconic; Montreal!
1. It’s closer and cheaper than Europe!
Take a trip back in time as you take a horse and buggy ride along the cobble stone streets of Old Montreal. There’s something magical about walking past a 400 year old stone building or sitting down at a restaurant that’s been run for generations that you just can’t get anywhere else outside of Europe. Now imagine everyone is speaking French, there’s shoulder height snow banks, seasonal light displays and the misty haze of blowing snow and it can actually feel like you’re in 18th century Paris.
2. Catch a Habs Game.
See all those banner? Those aren’t just there to add colour to the ceiling. The Montreal Canadiens are the oldest and most storied hockey franchise in the world with a record 24 Stanley Cups. Though the old Montreal Forum was taken down 1996, the atmosphere at the Bell Centre definitely gives justice to Les Habitant, and even the most mundane mid-season game has the palpable energy that most cities only experience during the playoffs.
3. Fewer Crowds
No matter what time of year it is and no matter what your culinary pedigree, there are a couple of things you must eat if you’re in Montreal; a Montreal smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz’s, a fried bologna sandwich from Wilensky’s, and a poutine at La Banquise. Try getting into Schwartz’s on a sunny July afternoon and you’ll be staring at a line around the block, but head into Montreal in the winter and you can try all of Montreal’s unique cuisine with limited to no wait times.
4. World Class Public Parks
Immediately west of down town, this 764 foot Mont Royal is one of Montreal’s largest green spaces and provides spectacular views for the down town and St. Lawrence Seaway beyond. You can head up just for the view alone, but if you’re feeling more active you can go tobogganing, tubing, skating, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and even take a ride on a horse drawn sleigh.
Or if you already have your skates and are right in the down town core, you can head over to Parc La Fontaine and go for a skate on the canals. You can see Montreal in it’s true form as buildings and monuments from the old world mix with the beautiful modern architecture of this brilliant city.
5. Nearby Ski Resorts
Montreal sits just south of the Laurentian Mountains and the premier resort of Mont Tremblant is just an hour and a half drive from the city. If that’s a bit too far for a day trip Morin Heights, Mont Gabriel, Mont Olympia, Mont Habitant, Mont Avila & Mont Saint-Sauveur are just 40 minutes away on highway 15 towards Tremblant. You can stay in town and head to Mont Bruno if times a factor, or head east of the city towards Bromont, Sutton and Owl’s Head Resorts all just an hours drive.
So this year, as the falling leaves turn to snow flakes and that longing for warm weather and fruity cocktails starts to creep into your brain, maybe think of taking a trip closer to home and experiencing some of the culture, activities and excitement that Montreal has to offer.
Canadian Hockey Enterprises