Just over 360 years old, Montreal is one of the more sophisticated in North America with old world roots. It has the most students of any town on the continent, and it's the second largest French-speaking city in the world behind you know where. Not surprisingly, Montreal draws great comparison to its French counterpart, Paris. Old Montreal, or Vieux-Montreal, even looks like parts of Paris. The old churches, cobblestone streets, tiny French restaurants with stone walls, and dimly-lit passageways leading to even smaller streets, Montreal has a depth all its own.
Air Canada (tel. 888/247-2262; www.aircanada.com) has special low-priced flights to and from Montreal. Simply click "Special Offers" in the top navigation bar to find current deals. Some sample one-way Internet specials include one-way flights from Montreal's Trudeau Airport to:
- Boston for $153
- Chicago for $189
- Los Angeles for $256
- New York for $150
- Orlando for $139
- Philadelphia for $142
- Tampa for $136
Mid-April fares with a one-week advance booking are not much different. A regular one-way fare to Montreal booked over the telephone, from New York comes in at $165.86, from Chicago $180.26 and $220.03 from Washington D.C.
Look to Travelocity (tel. 888/872-8356, www.travelocity.com) for package trips to Montreal. Leaving next weekend on Thursday, March 23, 2006 and returning Sunday, March 26, a three-night weekend trip including airfare and hotel starts at $327 for departures out of NYC. The choice of hotels includes the Hotel Champ-de-Mars, built in 1898 in the Old Port section of Montreal. It has a blues bar featuring local musicians and is in walking distance to the Place Jacques-Cartier, one of the hippest spots in the city. The hotel also sports an indoor pool. For the real feel of Montreal, this hotel is a great choice with great history. In the early 19th century, the hotel was a rooming house and rollicking tavern frequented by sailors and unsavory types. For a slightly bigger hotel, as in the 605-room Hyatt Regency Montreal, a $32 addendum is required. Leaving Saturday and returning Monday will reduce the total price of this air-and-hotel package by $294.
For local flavor, smoked meat and poutine will keep the taste buds active. Resembling corned beef in taste and appearance, smoked meat is typically enjoyed on a sandwich or on an opened-faced plate. Poutine is a combination of French fries and cheese curds covered in a brown gravy. For some of the best poutine in town, try the fare at La Banquise (tel. 514/525-2415) on Rue Rachel Est with more kinds of poutiness than you can count. This is lick-your-fingers good eating and most true Canadians get a little foie gras to go with their fries, cheese curds and gravy. For late night snackers, La Banquise is open 24 hours. It's consistently voted one of the best spots in the city for poutine. If you're still hungry, try the smoked meat (or Sunday brunch) at Schwartz's Deli (tel. 514/842-4813; www.schwartzsdeli.com). Since 1927 this Hebrew deli has been serving heaps of smoked meat to rival the serving size of any New York deli. Sandwiches are priced at around $4.55 Canadian, or $3.90. Schwartz's is located on St. Laurent Boulevard, one of Montreal's most popular streets and shopping stretches. Did we mention Montreal is inexpensive? Well it is. The price of beer starts around $2 -- and that comes with about three times the alcohol content.
In addition to good food and inexpensive beer, Montreal is also known for its nightlife. For a tour of Montreal at night, Montreal Nightlife Tours (tel. 866/221-5885; www.montrealnitelifetours.com) offers a different view of the city. Offering up to 50% off hotels, Montreal Nightlife Tours tries to give travelers VIP access to Montreal's best restaurants, bars and nightclubs. From birthdays to bachelorette parties to New Year's getaways, several packages are available for weekend trips where fun and frolic come first. Quotes are available upon request, but most weekend excursions include fifty percent off hotel stays at three-, four- and five-star properties, 35 percent off daytime activities, no cover charges at area nightclubs, no waiting in lines, transportation by limousine and shopping discounts. Your guides can even help get you reservations at top Montreal restaurants.
If you plan on traveling to Montreal this summer, you want to plan your trip around the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, or the Montreal Jazz Fest (tel. 888/515-0515, www.montrealjazzfest.com). This year's line-up includes Bonnie Raitt and a special salute to BB King's 80th birthday with performances by King himself. Taking place from June 29 to July 9, 2006, the festival includes some of the best jazz acts from around the world. Tickets can be bought for individual events. The very special BB King convert starts at $69.50 Canadian or $60.
While rooms might be booked by now, you can try some of the quainter, more charming auberge hotels. Les Passants de Sans Soucy (tel. 514/842-2634; www.lesanssoucy.com) is a quiet auberge in Old Montreal where smaller rooms can be had for approximately $135 during the summer months of high season from May 1, 2006 to January 5, 2007.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Montreal Message Boards today.