The Paris of North America
Ireland now has this summer direct flight connections to Montreal.
Air Transat, A Canadian charter airline,operates flights from Dublin to Montreal
and Toronto.
Montreal is the biggest French speaking city outside of Paris and in North America,
where it has a population of over 3 million people.
Being a former Olympic host city it has tremendous facilities that today’s visitor can benefit from, it has
great restaurants good hotels and much to do, in all seasons.
Located on the St Laurence river, its architecture dates back almost 200 years and
was a hot bed of the industrial revolution in Canada with its strategic position on the
Lawrence river in between the Great Lakes region of North America
The Irish connections are really strong and they helped build this city in the post
famine era. They even still have an Irish area called Griffintown, where many settled
in the docklands area
Old Montreal
This is right beside old Montreal, in the Hotel Nelligan, a famous writer of Irish
extraction, who is specially appreciated for documenting the emerging days of
Montreal in the late 1800s, now owned by a Greek family, the refurbished hotel on
Rue St.Paul has excellent dining facilities and helpful staff, forget a car as everything
here can be done by foot or on the metro, as it turned out we rented a bike from a
nearby rental bike shop for 25 euro for the day, cheaper than the city council system
that Dublin has recently brought in,where you rent bikes for an hour.
Check with bike store, Montreal on Wheels, 27 Rue de la Commune Est, tel.
514.866.0633, toll free 1877.866.0633.
Old Montreal used to be run down, but a visionary local government saw its potential
and now it plays host to huge numbers of tourists, the city gets 7 million tourists per
annum that stay at least a day.
Americans are the most numerous, then British, French and German, followed by
Italians with the direct Irish air route, more Irish may come, with some maybe
checking out future work possibilities in this city, where the jobless rate is just 5 per
cent .
Montreal is fantastic for sight seeing is loads to see , a boat trip on the St. Laurence
river, with Montreal , check out the old financial district, with its old style
skyscrapers that give a New York feel to the city. This was the financial capital but
moved to Toronto, as English speakers drifted away from Quebec in the post war
The great Notre Dame Basilica is extravagant and reflects the power of the Catholic
Church in Montreal back in the 1800s, dating back to 1829, rich church art, carved
wooden decorations and stained glass adorn this church, where you must pay to visit
in summer and is really impressive, we attended mass in French there, Celine Dion,
the famous singer from the city was married here in 1994.
For the Irish there is the St. Patricks, outside which the famous Irish Canadian, Darcy
Magee was assassinated in the 1860s, he helped make Canada get Dominion and
Independent status from .Britain. You can get mass in English there and converse
with the priest afterwards as they like meeting the Irish and often have Irish visiting
The Montreal town hall overlooks the harbour in old Montreal well worth a look.
It makes you proud to be Irish as outside you will see the city flag with the
shamrock, the thistle of Scotland, red rose of England, and fleur de lys of France.
Great to see the Irish get prominence in this city, 100,000 attend the St. Patrick’s day
parade each year and like the New Yorkers people become Irish for the day and enjoy
the Guinness in the many Irish pubs.
Try Hurleys pub near Crescent St. in the downtown area., which is mainly an
English speaking area off Sherbrook St..
Old Montreal has excellent dining facilities and lots of good bars, some of which are
even micro breweries, like the Trois Brasseurs on Rue St. Paul, some have music.
Markets and ethnic districts
The Plateau area in the French side of the city is also great for food,especially for
French and Italian. Mile End is a well known jewish area, where you will see
Orthodox jews going about in black.
If you like local markets try the Jean Talon one near Plateau on the northside of the
city, near the Italian district.
Fantastic food displays here, French cheeses, local apples and vegetables.
Lots of nice Italian eateries here too.
Boulevard St. Laurent is the French side of the city
This is all easily reached by bus or metro.
Mont Royal
To get an overview of the city take the metro to Montroyal and go to the park via bus
and there you will have a fantastic view of the St. Laurence river forests the
downtown area and lots more, great walks to be had around this area also, in the fall
there are lovely tree colours and in summer a cool place to hang out.
The Olympic stadium is Pix not far from Plateau on the North side of city is worth a
visit and the Botanical Gardens with their beautiful plants and trees.
The Chinese and Japanese gardens are marvellous, with special water features, it
gives one a sense of peace in what is a really busy city. The Biodome has lots of
rare plants.
For those into space, Montreal has loads to offer with the Space Museum , a great
science building, the city is the headquarters of the International Aviation Authority
and also of Bombardier who build jets, so having a space facility here was a no
brainer and is a top tourist attraction too.
The Planetarium near Sherbrooke is also fascinating. This area also hosts the modern
art museum, a little disappointing.
MacCord was brilliant with an exhibition on the Irish in Montreal, our hosts took us
to lunch there and we can recommend the food. The exhibition last year showed the
great contribution of the Irish who helped to build this great city.
Remnants and photos of the Irish area Griffintown near Old Montreal along the St.
Laurence river, where the Irish lived in an area like Irishtown or Inchicore in Dublin.
Today a cursory visit there shows red brick houses giving way to warehouses, car
parks and new condo buildings.
1967 was a year when the city hosted the World Expo trade exhibition now in
Shanghai, China this year, this was l held on a special island, Ile St Helene and you
can see a great fairground here now and entertain the kids if you are bringing them.
Festivals and nightlife
The city is just full of life, with ltos of festival, the Just for Laughs, Jazz Festival
African and Caribbean music festivals.
Many street elements to the various a little like Spraoi in Waterford, as well as
ticketed venues.
The city is teeming with lively bars and restaurants, where there is a zest for life that
attracts many visitors downtown and elsewhere.
Check out web site for what is on in the various seasons.
Regarding accomodation we stayed at the 3 star Hotel Nelligan, it charges around 100
Euro a night and being a big city, there is a wide choiceof accomodation from hostels
to bed and breakfasts. If you are travelling with a few people a weekend apartment
rental can be a good idea.
The weekend is a good time to be there,as there are lots of events .
After three days you will probably be yearning to see some more of this great
Country. We went onto Quebec on this occasion.
Montreal is a good stopover point after your flight from Ireland, also to get over the
jet lag.
Golf is popular in Quebec and our Waterford hosts a few years ago took us golfing
north of the city and the prices of green fees are competitive.
On this occasion we went cycling to Lachine the canal built to get around the St.
Laurence river rapids. Lachine takes its name from China, when the French in the
1600s tried to find the north west route to the Orient and instead found luckily
Montreal and the Laurence river.
To get to Lachine you go along the city’s longest street that of Rue St. Patrick,
named after the Irish patron saint. Many Irish died in the harsh weather building this
canal in the early part of the 18th century. This canal connection meant that the Great
Lakes of America and cities like Detroit and Chicago were t linked to the St. Laurence
River and then the Atlantic and Europe and heralded the beginning of the industrial
revolution in Canada.
You can see many buildings in the city remiiscent to a British industrial city but in
other ways it is like French or North American a great mix in totoal.
The city benefits from the huge number of nationalities that come to Canada,
From Asia, Africa and countires like Haiti or Columbia, much like the USA
In terms of multi culturalism. The total population is close to that of Ireland at 3.6
million people.
French is the main language for these people but others utilise English, which is the
second language of this bi lingual city that is truly open to the world.
With such cultural diversity there is a great choice of food as already partially detailed
Remember when arriving at the airport, take the airport bus to Berri, which links to
the metro, the tasxi ride is long into town and can cost 40CD$.
You can get a daily metro card.
Enjoy, with direct flights this country is more accessible now.
These run in the summer months when average temperatures vary from June to
September compared to minus in winter months.
Young people will identify employment opportunities in the country where
Thejobless rate is just 4-5 per cent.
Like Australia it is farily easy for the Irish to get a one year work visa, well worth
Considering today to build experience rather than stay jobless at home.
There is a sense of positivity,welcome and ease of living and work.
There is not the same crime threat and suspicion that is found in US cities
It is a little more relaxed and easy going, yet efficient as a society.
For something with a difference yet the familiarity of a developed western country,
where you are comfortable. It has North Amerian efficiency with French and
European flair.