It’s a bizarre attraction, but ranked one of the most amazing man-built wonders. This underground city is not rivaled anywhere in the world. Possibly embedded with secrets and mystery reminiscent of a George Orwell novel. Montreal’s underground city is a must to experience.
Unique to Montreal, the magnificent underground city stretches 19 miles (32 km), and forms the largest underground network in the world. This maze of connected corridors and interconnected office buildings and metro stops, was initially started as a way to seek shelter from the frigid winter temperatures. Today, the corridors of the underground city are lined with hundreds of boutiques and restaurants, including over 900 stores, 50 restaurants, 300 food court venues, 19 movie theaters and 9 fitness centers.
George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Marlon Brando, and Bruce Willis have all been to Montreal and each professed to love the city. No doubt they discovered that Montreal presents a cultural experience not rivaled anywhere in North America and has so much more to offer than just a breathtaking underground city. Here are some highlights:
A dichotomy of two cultures.
Both English and French cultures co-exist in all facets of Montreal daily life. Montreal is the largest French-speaking city in North America. The city is a hub for French-language television productions, radio, theater, performing arts, film, multimedia and print publishing. Here’s an opportunity to learn some basic French and notice how Montrealers have their own dialect using both languages in a unique mix (like words such as “stoppay” for “stop”, “allo” for “hello” and “batterie” for “battery”).
The city that goes to bed at dawn.
For night owls, this is the place for you. For others, you may want to take afternoon naps to fully appreciate the vibrant and spectacular nightlife. It is not unusual to sit for dinner between 9 and 10pm, before revving up for an evening of live music and dancing.
For nature lovers too.
This is a place for nature walks and bird watching. The City of Montreal offers free nature and bird sighting walks at Mount Royal Park. This park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of landscape architecture in America and also the architect of Central Park in New York City. Mount Royal Park is flanked by breathtaking panoramic views, and is laced with hiking and bike trails. For information and schedules of park tours go to www.tourisme-montreal.org
A city of romance.
Take a step back in time. The history of Montreal spans back some 8,000 years to a time when the area was inhabited by native Indians. Walk through the streets of Old Montreal (also known as Vieux Montreal) and stumble upon its nooks and crannies, with its cobblestone streets, Victorian street lamps and horse-drawn carriages. At the Hotel Nelson’s outdoor patio, guests can frequently enjoy the sounds of live jazz throughout the summer.
Donna Salle is a travel writer living in New York. She can be contacted at TravelsWithHeart@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @DonnaSalle.