Montreal, Canada

Reminiscent of the city of Paris, Montreal is considered the most sophisticated and romantic city in Canada by many. Home to a vibrant arts and cultural scene, there is a wide variety of attractions to suit all tastes. The city hosts many festivals and events throughout the year that range from art exhibits to live theatrical productions as well as science exhibitions and much more.

Montreal is an island municipality located within the province of Quebec and is bounded by the St. Lawrence Seaway. The site where the city now stands was discovered in 1535 by Jacques Cartier, a French navigator. Upon seeing the mountain for the first time that now serves as a stately backdrop to the city, he named it le Mont Royal. The area was eventually settled in May 1642 by the Société de Notre Dame de Montréal, a group of missionaries from France who came to bring the gospel to the Indians who inhabited the area at the time.

Montreal is a wonderful mixture of the historic and the modern and nowhere in the city is its heritage more alive than in Old Montreal. Narrow cobbled streets lined with Victorian era street lamps showcase a wonderful assortment of sidewalk cafes, artfully renovated historic buildings, many now home to elegant boutiques, as well as talented street entertainers that will beguile passersby with their craft. Wandering through the area, the aroma of delicious cuisine tempts visitors to venture inside the many fine dining establishments.

One of the city’s most notable landmarks is the Notre-Dame Basilica, a grand cathedral that was founded in 1642 by the original settlers to the island. Far from its original simple wood construction, the Notre-Dame Basilica seen today is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture. The current cathedral was completed in 1829, replacing the previous church on the same site. The interior of the cathedral is even more spectacular than the outside with breathtaking sculptures depicting many scenes from the Bible throughout while hues of blue and gold gently highlight the room adding to the ambiance.

No visit to Montreal is complete without a visit to Mont Royal. Outstanding views of the city abound as you ascend the mountain. While the hike is a bit strenuous it will yield some amazing photo opportunities and is well worth the effort!

For a relaxing afternoon a visit to the Montreal Botanical Gardens might be just the thing. Considered one of the finest botanical gardens in the world, it features more than 21,000 different plant species from around the world. There are ten exhibition greenhouses that contain thousands of plants, over 100 that are quite rare or threatened. There are also thirty theme gardens that are quite spectacular and represent authentic habitats for each region depicted. These include an Alpine Garden, a Japanese garden, a Chinese garden, the First Nations Garden of Canadian plants, a collection of poisonous plants and several others.

These are just a few of the sights that await visitors in beautiful Montreal.


Québec City, Canada

Over four hundred years have passed since Québec City, the capitol of the Canadian province of Québec, was founded by Samuel de Champlain and began its role as the wellspring of French civilization in the Americas. This vast cultural metropolis, populated by only an estimated 750,000 individuals, lies within a low-lying region situated along the St. Lawrence River, and pays homage to its European origins through numerous facets, including its French speaking populace, rustic architecture, and overall lifestyle.

While Québec City features a uniform ethos, the heart of this urban center, called Vieux-Québec, or Old Québec, is actually divided by precipitous bluffs into two districts: Upper Town, or Haute Ville, and Lower Town, also referred to as Basse Ville. The former quarter, positioned on the Cape Diamond promontory, stands in the midst of century-old fortress walls, while the latter region sprawls along the shore of the cape.

Deemed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Upper Town, which was initially built to accommodate the steadily expanding government of New France, features a variety of immaculately preserved historic monuments, including the Chateau Frontenac, Place d’Armes, Plains of Abraham, and the Quebec Parliament. Notwithstanding its evident antiquity, the narrow streets of Upper Town still provide an ample selection of modernized bars, cafés, shops, and hotels.

The Lower Town of Old Québec holds the capitol’s oldest residential areas, which are now dotted with exquisite boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, and other tourist oriented attractions, such as the Museum of Civilization. Lower Town’s cobblestone streets and breathtaking view of the raging St. Lawrence River is appreciated by a culturally diverse community, including both the suit-clad businessman and the new-age hipster.

Tradition manifests itself in Québec City not only through its aged infrastructure and timeless culture, but also through large-scale events such as the Winter Carnival and Summer Festival. The cold weather festivities were first held in the year 1894, in order to lessen the severity of winter hardships on the populace by providing several weeks of sporting events, parades, banquets, and masquerade balls. The later established Summer Festival spans eleven days, during which the city hosts hundreds of indoor and outdoor concerts, meant to showcase the artistic and economic capabilities of Quebec’s capitol.

Since its inception, Québec City has fostered the continued presence of French civilization far from its European origins. The respect bestowed upon the past is relevant in the city’s every element, and is therefore an incredibly invaluable experience to be realized.