WELCOME TO MONTREAL
Learn French this summer in the French speaking city of Montreal!
The 'real' Montreal, though, exists in neighborhoods that celebrate their ethnic origins like Little Italy and Chinatown, and especially the multicultural Plateau Mont-Royal. Boulevard St-Laurent ('The Main'), which runs through the Plateau and divides Montreal into east and west, is the city's most lively street, where the shops, bars and ethnic restaurants draw crowds until well into the night.
Montreal is well represented in all the traditional manifestations of high culture - symphony, opera and ballet - but truly stands out in experimental theatre and contemporary dance. One of its most notable exports is the internationally acclaimed Cirque du Soleil who still occasionally performs in Montreal.
The Just For Laughs Comedy Festival began as a two-night French-language comedy show and has grown to an event that lasts almost two weeks and draws more than 470,000 people. It's always a festive occasion when the traveling circus troupe Cirque du Soleil returns home to Montreal with its mesmerizing crew of fire eaters, jugglers, acrobats, clowns and artists.
The nearby islands in the St Lawrence - Ile Ste-Hélène and Ile Notre-Dame - were the site of the Expo 67 World Fair, and now comprise the city's largest park. The other tourist must-see is the legacy of another international event: the 1976 Summer Olympics. The Big 'O' (the Olympic Stadium) has the world's tallest inclined tower, and is next door to the city's Botanical Garden.
Outside of Montreal, The Eastern Townships lie 80km to the east of Montreal, on the border with New England. Some of the province's most picturesque countryside is here, dotted with nineteenth-century villages settled by Loyalists from the United States who refused to rebel against King George III.
One of the best ways to discover Montreal's warm and relaxed atmosphere is just to stroll through some of its districts and neighbourhoods. You can get to all of the major attractions by foot or by metro. The Berri-UQAM (University of Quebec at Montreal) may be the city's most important metro station as it is where three lines intersect and is also close to the Latin Quarter.
In Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal), the city's history can be seen and felt with every step. The tourist office on Notre Dame Street provides walking guides, which will direct you to the most significant places in this part of the city. Among them is the Pointe a Calliere Museum of Archaeology and History and the imposing Notre Dame Basilica. The Basilica has an impressive hand-carved interior that was constructed without a single nail. Picnic grounds, walking paths, musicians and performers can be found at Old Port (Vieux Port) waterfront area. There is also an IMAX theatre and the Montreal Science Centre.
Montreal's downtown area is home to many interesting museums. The Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux Arts) is the city's premier art gallery. The McCord Museum provides a look at Canada's social history. A few blocks to the east, near Place des Arts, you will find the Museum of Contemporary Art. Near Dorchester Square, the unofficial center of downtown, is the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral. The cathedral is a one-third-scale replica of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Just north of downtown is the Olympic Park complex. Originally built for the 1976 Summer Games, it now houses the Biodome, a very unique ecological interpretive centre. Just next to the Olympic Park is one of the world's best botanical gardens (Jardin Botanique). The garden boasts 26,000 species of plants and flowers in 30 beautifully landscaped areas.
Montreal's Plateau district is a fascinating part of town with a vast range of cultural groups. It would be easy to spend half a day meandering through the district's streets, which are laden with a variety bookshops, cafes, boutiques and restaurants.
Notre dame basilica: The city's oldest parish church, built in 1829 and admired for its artwork and neo-Gothic architecture, including exquisite stained-glass windows and a 12-ton bell and a bronze sculpture by Charles Daudelin. The organ is one of the largest ever built. Celine Dion was married there. Call for mass times.
Olympic park: Site of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, with futuristic architecture and one of the world's tallest inclined towers. Cable-car rides up the tower.
St. joseph's oratory: Poised on the northern shoulder of Mont Royal, it affords one of the most breathtaking views of the city. Two million people flock there every year to explore the paths leading from the oratory to the chapel and to visit the quaint relic-filled museum.
Mc cord museum of canadian history: Details Canada's history before the arrival of Europeans. There are Native American and Inuit artwork, Canadian costumes, folk art and the famous Notman Photography Archives containing 700,000 photographs.
Montreal planetarium: Offers some 170 original star shows with the Zeiss projector and lectures in French and English. Check the Web site for regularly updated show schedules.
Musee pointe a calliere: This museum is built on top of the ruins of one of the city's earliest settlements, dating back to the 1600s. As well as exhibiting and interpreting these ruins, the museum focuses on the field of archaeology in general. The presentation employs some flashy multimedia, and it's bilingual.
Musee d'art contemporain de montreal: More than 5,000 works from 1939 to the present. Supplementing the permanent collection are temporary exhibits that challenge the mind and eye.
Musee des beaux arts de montreal: The Museum of Fine Arts, the city's oldest art museum, showcases works from antiquity to the present, including works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet and Picasso. The museum hosts several international touring shows each year as well as lectures and films. The Old Fort and David M. Stewart Museum This museum tells the history of Canada with an eclectic collection of firearms, ancient maps and utensils -- all recalling the days of Canadian settlers.
Biodome: This environmental museum showcases four distinct ecosystems: a lush rain forest, a northern forest, the St. Lawrence River valley and the chilly ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctica. Gently sloping walking paths link the four environments to one another.
Mont royal park: A huge green space on the mountain in the middle of the city, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. In summer, the footpaths and bike trails are very popular. In colder months, the paths serve as cross-country ski trails, and Beaver Lake becomes a gorgeous skating rink -- you can even ski down a little hill facing it. Great views year-round. Mont Royal Metro stop, Montreal.
Montreal botanical garden: A large, spectacular urban garden. More than 21,000 plant species in 30 thematic gardens and 10 exhibition greenhouses. The Chinese and Japanese gardens are world renowned.
Parc jean-drapeau: Lots of recreation and relaxation in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, with many bike paths and walking trails and ample entertainment and recreation facilities, including a natural amphitheater.
The third peak of Mont Royal is found in Westmount, adjacent to downtown. There is a splendid lookout on Summit Circle, found within this park. At the center of Summit Park is a bird sanctuary with walking trails. Unfortunately, there's no bus service to the park, and it's quite a climb by foot.
Montreal is a great place to spend a summer learning French................