A local’s guide to Montreal
- By Selena Ross
- Photos by Kayle Neis
No simple facsimile of France, Montreal has blended Quebec traditions with cultures from all over the world, and it adds up to its own distinct flavor — some melange of spiral staircases and big parks, moody bars and permissive laws. It’s no coincidence that Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Cirque du Soleil and jazz star Oscar Peterson all came out of this effervescent, nonconformist city.
Sure, it’s not all perfect. Don’t visit in the winter, for one thing. It all pays off in the summer, when locals flock outdoors for pickup sports and all-day picnics or, if that gets old, back-to-back festivals. There are also hundreds of kilometers of urban bike paths to explore, most built in the past decade. Or get around (and avoid our infamously confusing street parking signs) by taking our clean and reliable Metro.
Montreal isn’t like the “ROC,” as Quebec refers to the “Rest of Canada.” Really, it’s like nowhere in the world.
Meet Selena Ross
Selena has lived in Montreal for a total of 10 years. She grew up a couple of hours away, in Ottawa, but has Quebec roots, especially on the Plateau — her grandfather landed there after immigrating to Canada in the 1920s.
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Explore more of Montreal
- You don’t need to speak French to get around. But making an effort, even a “Bonjour,” will earn you an appreciative smile before the other person switches to English.
- Servers here won’t bring your check without being asked — you can linger for hours. Enjoy it! But in places with few seats, do not stay all night.
- Locals give directions that automatically tilt the city grid east. When a place is described as being north, it’s actually northwest — or “Montreal north.”