You should climb up Mont Royal for a view of the city. Just take University all the way up, past the McGill dorms. The trails are right there.
Old Montreal is a must.
I’ll leave the food recommendations to other people-I haven’t lived there since 2000 so I don’t even know if the restaurants I used to frequent are still there. However, one place I really liked, even if it is in the middle of the shopping district on St-Catherine’s street-was Cafe L’Etranger in front of the Eaton Center. You have to walk down the steps to get to it-really good, creative sandwiches. I’d recommend it for lunch.
Old Montreal is great. Definitely take in the view from the Mountain. Check out the cool quiet of the Grande Bibliotheque. Ride the Metro. If you’re lucky, matt_mcl might introduce you to it.
We went to Le Commensal, a very good vegetarian restaurant, as good as the one in Toronto wasn’t when I was there (but that was a long time ago, the one in Toronto has probably improved). Get lost in the underground city. (Hint: to get to the train station, follow the people with luggage).
Get lost on the expressway system, which includes tunnels and a part where you drive on the left. Note: road signs are in French and metric. The difference is very apparent when you cross from Vermont or New York. “Signalisation metrique!”
Just checked in with a Montreal friend, and without knowing your taste in food, she weighed in…
Léméac has great, affordable French (and you can head over to Barmacie for a drink afterwards). There are tons of Bring Your Own Wine places on the Plateau (though I’d stay off of Prince Arthur if you want to avoid other tourists. Try Duluth or Laurier instead). Highly recommend Pop/ Laloux and Les Trois Petits Bouchons, and, higher end, Club de Chasse et Peche (despite occasionally crappy service). Globe on St Laurent is good but very, very scenester-y. Oh, and before or after you head up the mountain (sadly you’ll be missing the Sunday hippie-fest), get some amazing cupcakes from Cocoa Local on Parc above Mt. Royal.
The best thing to do is to pick up a copy of the Hour or the Mirror (free weekly newspapers) to see what’s on in terms of art shows, free concerts, festivals, etc.
I thought this thread had dropped out of sight! Thank you for your responses.
No, I have never been to Montreal before. Toronto lots of times.
I like the idea of the botanical gardens, depending on the weather. Also I will definitely check out the view from the Mountain. And the Old City sounds like just my cup of tea.
Anything else? As for food, I would love to try some French food - there just aren’t enough good, affordable French restaurants around here. We are aware of the signs and think we can get by…the SO has a little French under his belt and can read signs if not understand spoken too well.
The old part of the city – Vieux Montreal – is beautiful. There will be plenty of English available, you don’t need to worry about that. Check out the museums, attractions and public spaces section of the web site.
Oh, and when you see TPS at the botttom of your restaurant bill, it doesn’t mean TIPS, rather Taxe sur les Produits et Services.
We went to the museum of the history of Montreal, and all the displays had a choice of French or English. I have occasionally run into anti-English snark, but it’s rare. (Speaking a third language among yourselves is one way around this if your French isn’t up to snuff. And mine isn’t.)
Yes, that’s the GST, our value-added tax (6%). It was reduced from 7% by (I believe) the Conservatives; since the federal government is running budget surpluses and paying down the federal debt, we could do that.
Handy tip on tipping: The GST/TPS is 6%. Provincial sales tax in Quebec is 7.5%; it is apparently charged on the total of the price and the GST. The total of both taxes is roughly 15% of the base price.
In a restaurant, this is roughly equal to the amount to tip! (It’s the same amount in Ontario.) I didn’t know this for years, and it made things much simpler when calculating a tip. Just take the amount of the tax and round up to the nearest convenient amount.