The snow has melted, and the sun is shining in this North American metropolis. Perched on a 30-mile-long island at the convergence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, Montreal is the perfect blend of modernity and stunning historic architecture. I spent a week there last summer and felt like I was in Europe! Why cross the Atlantic to France, when her beautiful twin sister resides in Northeast Canada? Here are a few beginner tips for a Montreal vacation!
Air Canada offers direct flights from Los Angeles to Montreal — 5 hours and 15 minutes. As of post date, prices for June start at $511 round trip coach. From Philadelphia, it’s a quick 1 hour and 40 minute flight costing $345 round trip coach. The Quebec province city is on Eastern Standard Time, so be aware of the time change if flying from other parts of the United States.
Montreal’s official language is French, which is second to Paris as the largest primary French speaking city. However, don’t worry, most everyone speaks English, too.
When entering Canada by air or land, a passport or passport card is mandatory.
Where to Stay in Montreal
Georges Marciano of Guess fashion fame opened LHotel in 2010. He lives on the fifth floor and displays his museum worthy art collection throughout the circa 1870 building. Works from Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns adorn the walls with nothing to keep impetuous guests from touching! In the lobby sits a huge Jaume Plensa white-resin figure illuminated from within with ever changing colors. The 56 spacious guest rooms have high ceilings. Even better, my bed was super comfy! Rooms start at $275.
Épik Hotel Montreal
Discover architectural details in this 10 room heritage site, which is located in the neighborhood of Vieux Port. The 200 year old building had numerous incarnations as a fur trade shop and then a printing press facility. In 1999, two Montreal locals purchased the inn and renovated the beauty into a luxury hotel. But, modern incursions haven’t beset the original features. The charm of its century’s old stone facade and cobblestone street out front, invite you to go with the flow and soak it all in.
One of the best amenities at Épik Hotel is the complementary continental breakfast in their restaurant! Fresh baked chocolate croissants, homemade granola, fruit, and so much more. You’ll walk off the calories exploring the surrounding shops and waterfront. Spring and summer rates start at $134.
Spring, summer and fall, the temperature in Montreal, Canada is perfect for walking around the city. When you venture to Little Italy, Mile End, the historic Jewish Quarter, Gay Village or any of the many neighborhoods, Montreal has a fabulous metro. There are 68 metro stations and four different lines. As a result, it’s easy and fast to get around. Art installations decorate the walls of most terminals. In the 1960’s, then Mayor Jean Drapeau wanted to add culture to his borough, therefore he commissioned local artists to paint stations. Click here to view the treasures. I don’t recommend renting a car during your Canada trip because driving can be tricky. Also, the street signs are in French and parking is expensive.
The Canadian dollar is used in Montreal. As of post date, the exchange rate is $1 USD to $1.35 Canadian Dollar (CAD). They have 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar bills. In coins, 1,5,10, 25 cents, as well as 1 and 2 dollars. You can use US dollars at most places, however the exchange rate is not good. Small exchange places are along main streets, or use your ATM card at the local banks to get money. You’ll receive a better exchange rate, although typical ATM rates will apply. In addition, check if your bank charges international fees. It’s best to have some Canadian spending money.
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