Centuries-old stone facades, traditional bistros, elegant boulevards, and a certain Gallic je ne sais quoi make Montreal's reputation as an Old World city manqué well-deserved. But this Francophone metropolis is no fossilized relic. Step beyond the cobbled lanes of Vieux-Montréal, and you're surrounded by thoroughly of-the-moment buildings from the likes of I. M. Pei; innovative, globally inspired cuisine served in cunningly designed restaurants; boundary-pushing music from bands such as Arcade Fire and The Dears; and a dizzying blend of cultures that includes not just French but Italian, Chinese, and Caribbean. What binds all this together are the Montrealers themselves, who embrace their dualisms with relish.
Watching everyone from jazz legends and West African superstars to local, underground klezmer bands perform outdoors during the annual Jazz Fest, held every summer.
In winter, skating at one of Montreal’s three premier outdoor rinks: the Quays of the Old Port rink, Beaver Lake on Mont-Royal, or Parc Lafontaine, where locals play pick-up hockey.
Hoisting a pint of locally brewed St-Ambroise while watching the Montreal Canadiens hockey team at a neighborhood pub (no Toronto Maple Leafs paraphernalia allowed).