What’s more surprising in Montreal is how easy it is for a European to feel at home. The Canadian society has in its origins a mixture of English and French, being Montreal (the old “Ville-Marie”, which inherited its name from “Mont Royal” located in the natural park with the same name) the biggest city in Quebec’s province, the French part which is really the origin of Canada.
To understand the significance of this destination, where many Portuguese live, it has to be said that, in 1534, when the French explorer Jacques Cartier travelled to Canada on behalf of France the Portuguese explorers had been navigating the oceans for a long time.
The French King, Francis I, was then married since 1530 to Eleanor of Austria, a Spanish princess who was widow of the Portuguese King, Manuel I. The French benefited from the knowledge of the Portuguese explorers and also from the knowledge acquired by Eleanor during the three years she was Queen in Lisbon (1518 to 1521).
Years later, Quebec did not participate in the battles of the neighbour states against the British colonisers resulting in what is today the United States of America. The province ended up to be a natural “barrier” between the North Americans and the British. And this is briefly how the modern Canada was born having Montreal today a political and cultural role halfway between Europe and the USA.
Visit its port and stores nearby, enjoy the architectonic lines of the Olympic Stadium and recall the perfect 10 given to Nadia Comaneci in the year of 1976. Look at the balcony of the City Hall and imagine the former president Charles de Gaulle, when he visited Expo 67, giving his famous speech “Vive le Quebec libre!”. The metro system allows visitors to easily travel around the city and, in colder days, it is extremely convenient.
Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica is another location not to be missed, even by those who are not catholic. It is a work of art built between 1823 and 1829 housing a majestic organ, wooden sculptures and thousands of small painted stars on its ceiling.
The locals like to highlight that it was there, in December 1994, with a great deal of pomp and circumstance, that Célion Dion got married. She was born in Charlemagne, Quebec.
When it comes to religious locations, Montreal is the house of L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont Royal (Saint Joseph’s Oratory). It is a basilica born from the will of Brother André, today Saint André Bessette. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010.
The impressive basilica is located in the park area of Montreal, not very far away from the university, and was built between 1925 and 1967. A reliquary in the church museum contains Brother André’s heart. When going for a walk in the streets of Montreal, visitors can find many stores offering souvenirs and gastronomic products and also, on every corner, vibrant urban art.
This is a city which, although not having an urban centre as modern as, for example, Toronto (at approximately 500km), gave birth to several names currently famous to the public. The best example is Leonard Cohen. His image can be found painted on the façade of several buildings expressing how he is missed since his death in 2016.
There are also names of modern artists like the music band “Arcade Fire”, created in this city in 2000 by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, and that has already played several times in Portugal. The band used to rehearse on Boulevard St. Laurent, where fans can still find the names of the founders engraved in the concrete. Montreal is, therefore, a familiar, historical and culturally attractive destination, and also challenging to the ones who know how to enjoy it. May that be your case.
What to do in Montreal
Come and visit a lively city. Here are a few suggestions of what to do in Montreal.
From the gastronomic delights to the cultural and technological proposals, there are events for every taste.
A Walk through Gastronomy
How do you fancy a walk in the old part of the city and at the same time tasting some local specialities? This is an offer of the “Local Foods Tour”. The walk is accompanied by local guides who, like real connoisseurs, provide you with facts and historical curiosi – ties about this important city.
You will pass the Notre Dame Basilica (which you will not enter during the walk), followed by the port area and St. Paul Street. Along the route, you can pause and discover the local gastronomy, even including Portuguese food! A good opportu – nity to learn about the history of the city and remind yourself of the Portuguese food, with a touch of Montreal!
Duration: 3 hours
Distance covered: 2-3km
iX 2019 is a symposium dedicated to new technologies, from May 29 to June 1. The sixth edition of the event organized by the Société des Arts Technologiques (Society for Technological Arts) offers participants the opportunity to attend high level conferences, workshops and performances and see virtual reality installations. iX 2019 allows live experiences, which explore the latest advances in the areas of sensory technology, artificial intelligence, immersive computing and cloud computing that, together, are radically transforming the world in which we live. A whole space to reflect on and even experience the incredible creative capabilities offered by technology.
Montreal’s Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) is hosting, from March 2 to September 8, an exhibition of works by the stylist Thierry Mugler and also paying homage to the talent of 10 local fashion designers. “Montreal Couture” is thus the first exhibition gathering the creations of three of Quebec’s icons: Marie Saint Pierre, Philippe Dubuc and Denis Gagnon. This showcase is also the opportunity to discover other stylists, like Helmer Joseph, who combines elegance, romanticism and “savoir-faire” with his Haitian roots. Also included are works by the designers Ying Gao, Marie-Ève Lecavalier and the duo Fecal Matter, formed by Hannah Rose Dalton and Steven Raj Bhaskaran, who combine fashion, music and performance.
MAC – Musée D’Art Contemporain
The new era of exhibitions at MAC – Musée d’Art Contemporain (Museum of Contemporary Art) – starts on June 20 with the inauguration of the showcase dedicated to the Canadian artist Rebecca Belmore. The one that is the biggest exhibition of her artwork to date takes us on a journey through the last 30 years. Sculptures, installations, photographs and videos based on per – formances, characterized by the limitless beauty, sensitivity and resilience of an indigenous artist. Her work explores relations with the Canadian territory, the life of women, historic events and violence against indigenous people. We are before one of Canada’s most famous and important contemporary artists. Rebecca Belmore started working in the late ’80s, and amongst the themes of her work, we see climate change, access to water, use of planet earth, homelessness and migration. The exhibition, organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), is cura – ted by Wanda Nanibush and will be open until October 6.
Ragnar Kjartansson e The National
As of June 20, the MAC is also exhibiting the work of the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, produced in conjunction with the North American band, The National. It is a six-hour video in which the song “A Lot of Sorrow”, launched in 2010 by the band, is played live and continually repeated. The video was shot during a perfor – mance of the same name, designed by Kjartansson. The National will play its music for 3 minutes and 35 seconds, live, on stage, continually, for six hours. As time goes by and fatigue sets in, the musicians will subtly change the music. For the artist, it is as if the re – petition worked as a kind of a religious “cult” with a “blank noise”. To watch until the end – if you can…
As of May 19 to September 29, every Sunday in Montreal is going to have open air electronic music events in a city park just 10 minutes from the city centre. Thousands of enthu – siasts of this kind of music are expected for a diversified pro – gramme. For over 15 years now, “Piknic Électronik Montreal” has been one of the highlights of the city’s Summer cultural circuit. It is returning in 2019 with 21 shows based on a concept which has now gone beyond Montreal’s frontiers. In 2012, Barcelona hosted the first “Piknic Électronik”, followed by Melbourne and Dubai in 2014, and Santiago (Chile) in 2015.
L’International des Feux Loto-Québec
From June 29 to July 27, the La Ronde park will be hosting another edition of the “L’International des Feux Loto-Québec” (Montreal Fireworks Festival). It is a competition between world – -renowned companies, representing several guest countries and acknowledged as one of the most important in the world. Por – tugal is going to be represented by Grupo Luso Pirotecnia with a show appropriately entitled “Made in Portugal”. It will showcase a blue-neon, pastel and scintillating lights game dancing to the sound of music and songs from well-known television shows, including the classics “The Love Boat”, “Knight Rider”, “Star Trek”, as well as key modern hits, such as “Narcos”, “Casa de Papel” and “Stranger Things”. The company has even built a floating structure especially for the presentation in Montreal. It is going to happen on July 10, which is already a second “Portugal Day” since the National Football Team won Euro2016 on that same date with a goal by Éder!
Check our flights to Boston here.