The first thing you should know before going to Montréal is that it really is a French-first city. If they say bonjour to you and you reply with hello, they’ll know to speak to you in English, but considering its francophone residents have been struggling to maintain their language for over three centuries, it makes sense that the unofficial rule is in place. There’s been a significant increase in the number of French immigrants over the past several years, which only gives more of that charming European flair unlike anywhere else in the country. The largest city in Canada’s Québec province, Montréal is booming with adorable boroughs that range from cobblestoned, French colonial to a more sleek, millennial vibe. Whether you want the old or the new, or the old with the new, you can find it here.

Where to eat:

Eating in Montréal will give you the ultimate urge to do the food dance. Whether it’s a classic croissant and coffee in the morning, a whole fish and homemade potato chips at a local Portuguese hole-in-the-wall for lunch, sensational sushi whenever, or a delectable coq au vin, you can find it here, with a whole lot of different ambiances to suit your needs. If you want a brilliant brunch, go to Sparrow, something elegant go to Bouillon Bilk, and for something classic, go to L’Express.

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Where to play:

If you want to see Montréal, walk it. Some guides might tell you to take advantage of the metro system, but if you’re up for a brisk walk in the winter or a relaxed walk in the summer, and are looking to see every nook and cranny, then get your best pair of fashionably comfy shoes on and get to it. The shopping, from vintage to modern, and ranging from trinkets to full on home decor, and clothing and accessories galore, is so overwhelmingly wonderful. Rue St. Denis, St. Laurent, St. Catherine will give you it all. Mile-End is considered the most hipster of the bunch. If you want commercial, head to the city’s Underground, which is a below-ground network of walkways full of shops, restaurants, and with easy access to various attractions. For those who want to work up a good sweat, hike up the slightly steep but short Mont Royal, where you’ll enjoy an incredible view of the city. The museums and cathedrals are awe-inspiring, so don’t pass them up.

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Where to stay:

If you want to be surrounded by history, stay in Old Montréal, where everything screams 17th/18th century vibes. Among cobblestoned streets, a central grand cathedral, and historic public spaces, you’ll find swanky boutique hotels, like Auberge Du Vieux-Port. If you want the complete opposite, stay in downtown whereyou’ll find big names like Hilton and Marriott. Rent an AirBnB in Plateau Mont-Royal for more of a residential vibe among a mix of bohemian, vintage, and funk. Le Relais Lyonnais is another upscale option, and is located on Rue St. Denis, with a ton of restaurants nearby and easy access to Old Montréal.

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