5. Hotel Nelligan
The luxurious boutique hotel is conveniently located in the historic district of Old Montreal, a quaint area of cobbled streets and some of the oldest architecture in North America. Keep warm from the harsh, yet beautiful, Montreal winters in one of their 59 suites. Blazing fireplaces, down comforters, red brick walls, and glass showers add the extra something that has made Hotel Nelligan a staple since its opening in 2002. Charming boutiques run rampant in Montreal, as do small dining establishments with to-die-for menus and unmistakable European charm. Other boutique hotels worth mentioning: Place D’Armes, Hotel St Paul, The Gault, and The Chateau Versailles.
4. Montreal Jazz Festival
Local Montreal residents love their jazz, as do the thousands of visitors who flock to the French-speaking city across the border, especially in late June and early July during the renowned Montreal Jazz Festival. Since its first showing in 1980, the festival has been a major tourist draw for the city. In 2004, the festival earned a Guinness World Record for the largest jazz festival in the world after the 25th Anniversary event brought in nearly two million attendees.
3. Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park is the lung of Montreal, sitting proudly atop the majestic cityscape of one of Canada's hippest cities. Mount Royal is capable of transforming itself to cater to any visitor, for any season—hiking, biking, paddle-boating in the warmer summer months, and sledding, ice skating, or snow shoeing in Montreal’s snowy winters. Make your way to the Chalet lookout; from here, on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Vermont in the States.
2. Cirque du Soleil
Now one of the top entertainment attractions in the world, Cirque du Soleil got its start on the streets of Montreal by Guy Laliberté, an accomplished entertainer who dreamed of turning his street performance into a troupe. After several financial setbacks, they eventually gained international success, selling out shows worldwide. Although they spend much of the year on tour and have permanent shows in cities across the world, they generally reserve a few months (usually mid-April to late May) for hometown performances. Contorted acrobatics, daring circus acts (minus the animals), and magical theater are all part of the mysteriously moving, indescribable Cirque du Soleil phenomenon.
1. Visit a Market
Montrealeans approach life a bit more relaxed than us south of the border. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not eaten on the go. Life is about living, not working. This easygoing take is apparent at any of the many farmers' markets that are housed within the city limits. Certain markets cater to certain goods but most sell a big enough variety that you can do all of your grocery shopping in one place. Quaint stalls lay out only the freshest of ingredients; anything from meat and cheese and fruits and vegetables to local crafts and Christmas trees.
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