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Montreal gives you that touch of French culture, ambience, language and cuisine without the transatlantic flight. Founded by French explorers over 350 years ago, it is among the oldest cities in North America with a rich and colorful history and a vibrant multicultural society. For the visitor, Montreal is very much a walking city, from the historic streets of Old Montreal and the port area to the shopping centers and underground city of the main downtown area. It is also a very romantic city in any season (although I may be a little biased as my husband proposed to me there). Although you would think Montreal would be home to the best croissant, in fact it is the bagel that is king of breads here and any native from Montreal will tell you that it is their bagel (not the New York variety) that is truly authentic.

If you can spare the ten plus hours of traveling time or would prefer a scenic approach (and less of a dint in your wallet), you may want to consider taking the train up to Montreal, especially if you live in the northeast. One-way train travel on Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) starts as low as $55 on a direct train from New York City. If traveling with a second person, use the promotional Code V707 to get 50 percent off the second fare between New York and Montreal (except on day trains on Fridays or Sundays, or on holiday weekends). This offer is good through March 31, 2006.

Air Canada's (www.aircanada.com/en/us/home.html) Web Saver Extra fares are published weekly on its website. This week's airfare specials must be booked by September 29, 2005 so if you can't make your Montreal travel plans by then, check back each week. Current one-way specials to Montreal from US cities include Philadelphia from $125 and Miami from $167. Air Canada has negotiated special rates at three of Montreal's most chic boutique hotels -- the four-star Hotel St. Paul, from $147 per room per night, the four-star Loews Hotel Vogue from $183 and the Nelligan from $260. Taxes are additional.

Orbitz (tel. 888-656-4546; www.orbitz.com) can offer airfare and hotel packages with big savings over buying flights and accommodations separately. A three-night midweek package from New York including airfare on United Airlines and accommodations in the four-star Sandman Hotel Longueuil is priced from $410 per person, a saving of $32 or stay at the Delta Montreal for $468 and save $266. From Boston the rates are $408 at the Sandman or $466 at the Delta, from Los Angeles, $589 or $646 and from Dallas, flying American Airlines, the prices are $531 or $588. Package rates are for October and November 2005 departures, including all taxes and are based on dual occupancy.

Canadian travel company Fresh Tracks (tel. 800/667-4744; www.freshtracks.ca) offers a four-day/three-night Montreal package in your choice of economy, standard or deluxe hotels. The package is available until April 28, 2006 and includes three-nights accommodations plus a city sightseeing tour starting at $230 per person based on dual occupancy from October 30, 2005 in an economy hotel. Add $25 for standard, $85 for superior/deluxe. Airfare or transport to Montreal is additional. The three-hour city sightseeing tour includes the Notre Dame Basilica, the financial and residential districts, historic Old Montreal, the Latin Quarter, Olympic Complex, McGill University and the panoramic views from an observation point on top of Mont Royal.

Expedia (tel. 888/397-3342; www.expedia.com) has also bundled up airfare and accommodations to create Montreal getaway packages. Prices are for four-night packages from New York. For $551 per person enjoy round-trip airfare and four nights accommodation at the historic four-star Hotel XIX Siecle boutique hotel (based on weekend travel from October 20 to 24, 2005 double occupancy).

For airfare alone, Expedia's current round-trip specials to Montreal include:

  • From New York $275
  • From Boston $266
  • From Chicago $356
For accommodations without flights, the following per rates per room per night are available from October 11 to November 25, 2005:
  • Clarion Hotel Suites Downtown $102
  • Hotel de la Montagne $109
  • Delta Montreal $146
  • Hotel XIX Siecle $147
For a cut-price Montreal weekend on short notice, try one of the last minute travel websites like site59.com (www.site59.com). It currently offers two-night Montreal getaways from New York from as little as $338 including round-trip airfare, two nights accommodations at Holiday Inn Select Montreal Centre Ville and all taxes. Add an additional night for another $48. This price is per person based on dual occupancy. Two nights and airfare from Boston is $456 ($19 for an extra night) and from Miami, packages start at $466 (plus $20 for an extra night).

Tourisme Montreal (www.tourisme-montreal.org) has a number of "Sweet Deals" that include two nights accommodations at reduced rates, late checkouts, buffet breakfasts, a travel bag, casino cash, assorted coupons and two for one admission to various attractions and museums. Stay a third night and receive 50 percent off the discounted rate. Taxes are additional.

For example:

  • The four-star Delta Centre-Ville or Delta Montreal is $145.50 per room per night
  • The five-star Hotel Intercontinental Montreal is $178 per room per night
  • The four-star Hyatt Regency is $164 per room per night
  • The five-star Ritz-Carlton Montreal or Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain are both $186 per room per night

For more information about visiting Montreal visit www.tourisme-montreal.org and www.frommers.com/destinations/montreal.

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