Population: 1,906,811, Greater Montreal metropolitan area 3,814,700
Green Cred: Great green places to stay, places to visit, and sustainable development.
Montreal is a mix of different cultures. Québecois (French Canadians) mix in with Anglophone Canadians to form a vibrant city, one that is filled with a great nightlife and things to do. Montreal is Canada's second most populous city and French is the main language, spoken by over 59% of the population, but you'll have no trouble navigating around in English. As the metropole of Québec and one of the largest cities in Canada, you'll find a bunch of activities and things to do for the green-minded tourist.
The melting pot of cultures includes a combination of different languages. Quite often, Montrealers will speak to one person in one language, and switch to another. This is something that's unique in Canada, where the main language is usually English. I've lived in Montreal for over four years, and it's definitely a place that's worth visiting. It's situated conveniently near two major airports, and connected via main different routes of transportation (train, buses) to Toronto and Ottawa. Montreal has nine universities within a 5 mile radius, so there is a big student community. There are innumerable restaurants all over the city, from small eateries to top notch restaurants, but in all the hustle and bustle of the big city, you can still find ways of keeping things organic and homegrown. It's a must stop if you are visiting Canada or the east coast of the USA. The fusion of different cultures is unique in Canada. The best time to visit Montreal is either in the late spring, summer, or early fall. There is a lot of snow during the winter and unless you want to go snowshoeing in Mount Royal Park, the warmer temperatures will allow you to visit more of the city.
Places You Must Go
- Historic Old Montreal is the old center of the city, which was once walled off. The cobblestone streets, beautiful vistas, great restaurants and nightlife make this a must for any tourist.
- Quays of the Old Port of Montreal is another historic site to visit, but there are many activities that you can do there. There are different exhibits, stores and restaurants to see. In the winter, the skating rink is fun to visit and there's also the Science Center.
- Habitat 67 was Moshe Safdie creation and offered a new way of how residential buildings could be created. It was created for Expo 67 but is well worth the visit.
- Montreal Green offers bicycle tours and ecotourism guides to green tourists.
Things You Must Do
- The Lachine Canal is a great way to spend a few hours. There are numerous cycling paths and walkways, snaking around the canal, with many small bridges and places to discover.
- Mount Royal Park is centrally located in Montreal and easy to visit. You'll discover the Lac-aux-castors and many great sights of Montreal.
- The Montreal Botanical Garden has a few different activities and classes available for visitors of all ages.
Where To Sleep
- HI-Montreal Hostel is a sustainable hostel located in Montreal. They offer group packages, tours, and activities for travelers from around the world.
- Alt Hotel Quartier Dix30 is located in Brossard, but it is a green hotel. It's centrally located, but your carbon footprint will be lessened.
- Quartier Latin Hotel is a small and centrally located hotel that has some sustainable features.
- Hotel Elegant is on Saint-Hubert St and it looks like a nice way to spend a few days.
- Couchsurfing is an interesting way to discover new cities. Staying on a couch is relatively cheap and usually the hosts will show you around.
Where To Eat
- Atwater Market is a great place to walk around and get a bite to eat. There is a farmer's market right near the Lachine Canal, and you can go biking, walking, and exploring.
- Aux Vivres is juice bar, vegetarian restaurant, and express counter on Saint-Laurant boulevard.
- Commensal is vegetarian restaurant that's branched out into making vegetarian products, like soups, which you can find at almost any grocery store.
Shops To Visit If You're There For A Day
- Rien à Cacher is a chic an ethical eco boutique where you'll find some nice green clothes, including Rejet bags.
- OÖM Ethikwear is a clothing manufacturer that has its own online store. They recycle clothing and will pay $5 per piece
- Ethik Eco Boutique has a lot of interesting wares for the green fashionista. There's a bag that's completely made out of recycled bicycle tires.
- La Gaillarde has green clothing as well as classes to make your own.
Shops To Frequent If You're There For a Year
- CNI Furniture is the place to get sustainable and handmade furniture.
- Pure Organic Design will turn your home green and reduce its carbon footprint.
- Bamboo Warehouse will feed your need for bamboo. You can buy furniture and furnishings for your home.
- Madera Eco Meubles will give new life to your vintage furniture. They specialize in restoring wooden pieces of furniture.
- Atwater Market is one of the farmer's market that I love to go to. It's in Saint-Henri and conveniently located.
- Jean Talon Market is one of the largest markets in Montreal. It gets pretty busy on the weekends, but you can find loads of deals on fresh veg and fruits, as well as meats. The other markets are listed here.
- The Montreal Botanical Garden combines the Biodome, the Insectarium, and Montreal's Planetarium, which are all worth visiting. Plan on spending at least two days to exploring these facilities.
The Best Flea Markets, Antique Fairs, and Thrift Stores
- March aux Puces Metropolitain is one of the largest flea markets in Montreal. It can be overwhelming, but you can find loads of deals.
- Marché aux Puces St-Michel is another great flea market.
- Friperie Saint Laurent specializes in clothes from the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
- Friperie Marie Claude is a thrift store where you can find some treasures.
- Green Life is the Montreal Gazette's green blog. It's worth checking out if you're planning on staying a few days in Montreal.
- Happy Cow has a listing of all of the vegetarian restaurants in Montreal.
(Images: Lac-aux-castors photo by Montrealais via Wikipedia, Atwater Market photo by Anna Frodesiak via Wikipedia, restaurant photo via Commensal, Place D'Armes photo by Denis Tremblay, Habitat 67 photo by YKah via Wikipedia)