The first language in Quebec is French. Making an attempt to use the language is a great way to show respect for locals, whether or not they can speak English, even if you can manage only a few words with a very strong accent. However, it should be noted that Montreal is considered to be one of the world’s most bilingual cities with many residents whose primary language is English.
What to see?
Old Montréal contains the vast majority of historical buildings, most dating from the 17th – 19th century, and many museums. At night several of the buildings are beautifully lit up. There is a tourist office there to help you more.
Downtown has skyscrapers, churches, and museums. Several core city blocks are connected by 30 Km of underground tunnels with arcades and malls, allowing comfortable walking and shopping in winters. You can reach them by several subway stations on the green line.
Parc Jean-Drapeau, site of the 1967 World’s Fair, now devoted to green spaces and a large outdoor concert venue. An artificial beach, a huge outdoor pool complex, and the Montreal Casino are also located on or around the park.
Montreal has a bewildering variety of festivals, ranging from one-day ethnic fairs to huge international productions running two weeks or more. They are generally held in the summer and autumn, though increasingly they can be found throughout the year.
Montreal has a very good public transport. You can easily find your way and plan your schedule via the STM website (http://www.stm.info/English/a-somm.htm). The whole information is available in both French and English. There is also information that shows you which ticketing option is suitable for your purpose.
Montreal is home to one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious universities, McGill University. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top 20 universities in the world. Concordia University is the city’s other English-language university, the largest East of Toronto, and has over 40,000 students.
Université de Québec à Montreal (UQAM) and the Université de Montréal cater mainly to Francophone students. The Université de Montréal is the second largest French-language university in the world, after the Sorbonne in Paris and is one of the largest research institutions in Canada. The Université de Montréal has two affiliated schools, Polytechnique Montréal (engineering), and HEC Montréal (business school) that offer undergraduate and graduate studies.
Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke also have campuses in the Montreal area. Every university, with the exception of Laval, lends its name to a subway stop to indicate the university’s approximate location. For example, the Guy-Concordia subway station, located at the intersection of Guy street and De Maisonneuve West boulevard, is no more than two minutes away from its namesake university (Concordia).
Montreal is a culinary mecca and has a huge variety of food options, from diners and fast food to low-cost ethnic restaurants to haute cuisine. The city was recently ranked 2nd best dining city in North America after San Francisco and ahead of New York.
Many Montreal restaurants are “apportez votre vin” (bring your own wine). This may sound like a hassle, but you end up paying much less for wine with dinner if you bring it yourself. There’s usually a SAQ (government liquor store) within walking distance (open solely regular business hours, so plan in advance). Most local convenience stores also sell a small selection of beers and wines, but are not permitted to sell after 11:00 PM. Ask your waiter for the closest option.
Separate bills (l’addition or “facture” in French) are common and you may be asked ensemble ou séparément? (together or separately?) The standard tip for acceptable restaurant service is 15% and is not included.
Never call a waiter “garçon”! Use “monsieur” or “madame.”
No visit to Montreal is complete without at least one plate of Poutine (possibly from a French word meaning “mess”). This unique dish is a plate of French fries drowned in gravy and topped with chewy curds of white cheddar. There are variations on the theme — adding chicken, beef, vegetables, or sausage, or replacing the gravy with tomato sauce (poutine italienne).
Montreal is often icy and cold in winter, be careful by dressing appropriately for the conditions and be mindful of ice or snow anytime you are driving or walking. Street clearing of snow is generally effective. Summers are warm to hot and can be quite humid. Being surrounded by rivers adds to this effect.
You can simply look at the tourist Montréal website and find which events you would like attend. There are details about the event place, date and fees.
Local Alternative Paper with Events/Arts/Films