- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Montreal Guide (PDF)
Montreal is a Canadian city that is heavily influenced by French culture. Everything from the language to entertainment and shopping in the city is decidedly French.
City residents feel this all around them and as English-speaking expats explore the city they would do well to venture away from the more anglophone areas and experience what French Montreal has to offer.
That said, there is definitely something for everyone, and those who prefer to stick to what they know will find plenty to do in Montreal. Hundreds of cafes and restaurants offer food from all over the world. Parisian boutiques and Asian supermarkets, as well as Irish pubs and European nightclubs, can be found along the road. There is never a dull moment in this bustling city.
Shopping in Montreal
Shopaholics will feel right at home in Montreal. The city offers a wide range of shopping options from big department stores to quirky antique shops.
Those looking for a more traditional shopping experience should head straight to the department stores on Rue St Catherine. This is one of Montreal's most famous shopping streets and it even has underground stores that allow shoppers to escape the freezing winter temperatures.
For quirky outlets in some of the city's more interesting areas, expats should visit Avenue Mont-Royal and Rue St Viateur. Those with trendier tastes will find high-end stores on Rue St-Denis and Rue Sherbrooke. The suburb of Westmount is where expats will get their luxury fix, while antique buffs should head to Rue Notre-Dame and Rue Amherst.
Eating out in Montreal
The French influence in Montreal is apparent in its many restaurants and bakeries. However, expats will also find that there is such a large variety of cuisines on offer that almost every ethnicity in the city is represented.
Old Montreal is the best place to find classic French cuisine. Plateau Mont-Royal is an area popular with students and young professionals, and expats will find restaurants in this area ranging from quaint sandwich shops to cheerful Italian restaurants and upscale bistros. Saint Laurent Boulevard is the street where expats will probably have the most luck finding something they like. As with Old Montreal, Plateau Mont-Royal also has its share of French influence and Rue St-Denis is the place to find it.
In central Montreal, otherwise known as Downtown, there are many great bars and restaurants to explore. The streets with the highest concentration of eateries are Rue Crescent and Rue Bishop.
Nightlife and entertainment in Montreal
Expats who enjoy a night on the town will be happy to know that Montreal has great nightlife. The bars and clubs stay open later than anywhere else in Canada and range from student watering holes and jazz haunts to all-out nightclubs.
For the more cultured expat, there is also plenty to see and do in the evenings. Montreal has a brilliant symphony, numerous theatre companies and, of course, Cirque du Soleil. International bands and musicians often stop off in the city during their North American tours, so the chances of seeing one's favourite band play live in Montreal are fairly good. The film industry in Montreal is growing rapidly and city residents are passionate about French and other foreign films.
Expats will find that the nightlife in Montreal is often divided depending on which language people speak. English speakers tend to frequent bars on Rue Crescent, Rue Bishop and Rue de la Montagne. French speakers, on the other hand, tend to gather in the Quartier Latin. For a more diverse experience, expats should go to Rue St Paul in Old Montreal where they can listen to live music.
Sports and outdoor activities in Montreal
When it comes to sports, ice hockey is a favourite in Montreal. The city hosts the National Hockey League, and expats can get into the local sports culture by watching a game.
Whatever the weather, expats will find numerous outdoor activities on offer in Montreal. Montreal Botanical Garden with its diverse collections of plants is recommended for all nature lovers. The city's numerous parks can also be enjoyed by expats of all ages. La Fontaine Park is a popular green space with its ponds and water features, and an outdoor ice-skating rink opens during winter.
Sporty expats can find great jogging routes around every area and suburb in Montreal. The Lachine Canal is one such example, perfect for jogs, walks and bike rides.