The first trip I took on my own was to Montréal which is the largest city in the Canadian province of Québec. One fact about Montréal that many people don't know is that Montréal is located on an island, Île de Montréal. This island is surrounded by the Saint-Lawrence River and the estuaries of Ottawa. French is the official language in the city. In 1642, Montréal was founded by French colonialists and later Montréal was taken by the British. This is why English is spoken in Montréal as well.
To learn more about the history of Montréal, I advise you to take a guided tour, because everything is explained in detail. But I will come to possible tours later in the blog.
How did I get to Montréal in the first place? From Windsor, there has been a direct flight connection on a new airline called "Flair Airlines" since the 7th of July 2022. My flight from Windsor to Montréal was the first on this new connection. The airline has been operating for several years, but Windsor Airport has expanded the flight connections. Flair Airlines added a direct flight to Montréal and also a direct flight from Windsor to Halifax during the summer months. From the airport in Montréal, I got to my accommodation quite easily by bus 747. The bus ticket costs $11 and is valid for 24 hours, so, you can use the ticket more times on your first day.
I stayed at "The Grey Nuns Residence by Concordia University". Concordia is a university in Montréal that rents student rooms to tourists during the summer when the school is much quieter. The accommodation has a good location, there are restaurants and bars nearby, the bus stop for route 747 and a metro (subway) station is also not far away. You can reach the tourist information centre after about 15 minutes of walking.
I flew to Montréal Thursday morning and back Sunday morning. For me, the two and a half days fit exactly, but I already visited Montréal about three years ago. At that time, I found the city very diverse and therefore wanted to go there again. However, if you have more time, I would advise you to plan a little more time for Montréal, because the city really has a lot to offer. For larger cities, I would always advise between three to four days to be able to look at everything at a relaxed pace.
On my arrival day, I walked around downtown Montréal, checked out Chinatown, and then spent the evening in Old Montréal (Vieux-Montréal) and at Old Port. In Old Montréal there are many different restaurants where you can eat. At the Vieux-Port there is also a giant Ferris wheel "La Grande Roue de Montréal", it is the highest Ferris wheel in Canada and allows you to see the city from a different perspective.
On Friday I did a trip to the Parc du Mont-Royal and the Lac aux Castors (in English that means Beaver Lake). From the parking lots or from the lake, you walk about 15-20 minutes to the "Chalet du Mont-Royal" and you should definitely do it. From there you have a fantastic view over Montréal. There is also a small bistro, which is perfect for a short break and to enjoy the view.
In fact, on Friday I decided to buy bus tickets for the "hop-on hop-off day and night tour". Through such guided tours I personally find that you get a good impression about a city and often tips and knowledge about the history and development of a place. You can use those buses between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm as often as you like and see the different sights. However, I would advise you to sit and watch the whole tour first and then get off and back on at the second round after you know something about what is coming up. You can buy tickets at the tourist information or in advance on the internet. I bought the day ticket as well as an evening ticket. The evening tour was of course a different route than during the day. In the evening tour, we saw the two islands "Ile Notre-Dame" and "Ile Sainte-Helene". In addition, it went up once again to the Mont-Royal, here we were even lucky enough to catch the first moments of the sunset. It was an amazing view! I found both tours very interesting, especially with the historical background.
On Saturday, I actually spontaneously decided to do a bus tour to "Mont Tremblant and the Laurentians". This tour took about 9 hours and went to the Laurentians mountains and the very popular ski resort/wellness resort Mont Tremblant, which is a small town north of Montréal.
The tour was conducted by the "Grey Line" bus company and the tourist information. It was accompanied by a very nice lady who made the tour very interesting. For me, it was clearly a highlight. But to be honest, I find the Canadian landscape fascinating above all and prefer it to most cities. On the way to Mont Tremblant, we made several small stops. For example, in Saint-Sauveur; Saint-Adolphe-D'Howard and Saint-Agathe-des-Monts. If you want to escape city life and explore the Canadian landscape, I can definitely recommend this trip.
On Saturday evening I went to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. This took place from June 30 to July 9 and the entrance is completely free in the outdoor area. Everything from classical jazz to "jazz rap" was played there. That was definitely very interesting because I had never been involved with jazz before and didn't know that there were so many different possibilities.
Also, Montréal has an underground city; its official name is RÉSO (which means "network” in Français) but is now known as the "Underground City". There you will find restaurants; stores; train stations and even hotels. This city is about 33 km (20 miles) long. It is definitely worth a visit.
In general, it was a very successful trip for me and a great experience. In the beginning, I was clearly worried about what it would be like to travel alone to a foreign country. I can tell you that I really enjoyed it and made connections on every trip. You really do always meet someone. I actually met a German couple on the Saturday trip who live very close to where I'm from in Germany. I went to the Jazz Festival with them and enjoyed the last evening in Montréal.
If you have enough time for travelling I recommend you to extend your trip to Montreal and also around Quebec. On the one hand, the tourism info centre offers a day trip to Quebec City (the city itself if about 2-3 hours away by train), or you can go by yourself for 2 or 3 days to Quebec by train and then back to Montreal.
View from the Chalet du Mont-Royal over Montreal
Sunset over Montreal while we took the bus back to the city from Mont-Royal
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal is a basilica in the historic district of Old Montreal. Inside the church you will find many religious statues and intricate wood carvings, making the interior of the church the most impressive in the world and regarded as a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture.
Mont Tremblant with the many different colourful houses and the lake in the background
Lac aux Castors at the Parc du Mont-Royal
Saint-Sauveur and the church Paroisse Saint-Sauveur were our first stop on the way to Mont-Tremblant. The church is located at 205 rue Principale, Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, J0R 1R0