Montreal, home to the largest French-speaking community in the Americas and Canada's second-largest city, is a fantastic destination for lovers of food, sports and music festivals!
We've gathered the best tips from our teaching staff who have lived and worked there, to assemble the ultimate guide to The City of Festivals, and for practising your French skills during your stay.
1. Sink your teeth into a fresh bagel
Montreal is renowned for its bagels, which are unique in their texture and flavour. Make your way to a local bakery like St-Viateur Bagel or Fairmount Bagel to enjoy a freshly baked, hand-rolled bagel.
French Language tip: This is the perfect place for beginners to practice their food ordering skills with "Je voudrais un bagel grillé à emporter, s'il vous plaît !" (I would like a toasted bagel to go, please!)
2. Stroll through the Montreal Botanical Garden
Lose yourself in Montreal Botanical Garden, known as Jardin Botanique. Wander through themed gardens, such as the Chinese Garden or Japanese Garden, and discover the wonderful natural sculptures.
French Language tip: Book a FREE guided tour with a bilingual guide from Friends of the Garden and take the opportunity to ask a billion questions, enriching your vocabulary with every step.
3. For fresh produce, visit the Jean Talon open-air market
The bustling Jean-Talon Market, or Marché Jean-Talon, is a vibrant place to indulge in local fruits, vegetables, and gourmet treats. Engage in conversations in French with the friendly vendors as you explore the market's delights.
French Language tip: Watch this video before you go shopping and try to use as many phrases as you can to ask about prices and quantities.
4. Feeling peckish? Have a poutine pit-stop!
No trip to Montreal is complete without poutine. A quintessential Quebecois dish is made with french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Local eateries like La Banquise or Chez Tousignant are the perfect place to satisfy your taste buds - and don't forget to order in French. In your travels, you might even learn about different variations of this iconic comfort food.
French Language tip: Why not have a go at making your own Poutine at home? Combine cooking an language learning by following this recipe in French.
5. How about a drink with the locals?
Montrealers are known for their love of good coffee and craft beer. If you're in the city center and looking for cold one, our staff highly recommend visiting Dieu du Ciel or Projet Pilote.
French Language tip: Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations with "Qu'est-ce que vous me conseillez ?" (What do you recommend?). And if you'd like to expand your vocab before you order, have fun with this activity.
6. Discover street art at "Graffiti Alley"
Montreal's Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood is home to "Graffiti Alley," showcasing vibrant street art. This outdoor gallery is a colourful testament to the city's creative pulse, with murals, stencils and stickers stretching across this back alley tucked away behind Saint-Laurent Boulevard.
French Language tip: Watch this video with or without subtitles and try to answer the following questions: Qui sont les deux personnages ? Quelles sont leurs opinions sur la fresque ? Quelles sont les formes de street art ? À qui sʼadresse le street art ?
7. Immerse yourself in the Old Port
A visit to Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal) is a must for any tourist. Stroll through its cobblestone streets and soak in its history. We have not one, nor two, but FOUR activites you have to do while you're there: go ice skating, enjoy a great view from the Port of Montreal Tower, visit the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History and enjoy one of the many shows and concerts hosted by the basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal!
French Language tip: Print out this activity booklet to learn about the history of Pointe-à-Caillère in French!
8. Cheer for the Canadiens!
Join in Montreal's sports culture by attending a Montreal Canadiens hockey game at the Bell Centre. Fun fact: the team is affectionately referred to as "The Habs". This nickname dates back to the 1920s when Madison Square Garden owner Tex Rickard thought the H in the Canadian team's logo stood for "Habitants" (French speakers in Montreal), which is a misconception as H just stands for "Hockey"!
French Language tip: Join the local cheer with the classic chants 'Ole! Ole! Ole!' and 'Go Habs Go!' or explore more of the local lingo with French chants like 'Bleu, Blanc, Rouge!' and 'Halte là, halte là, les Canadiens sont là!
9. A small climb for a stunning sunset
Hike to the top of Mount Royal for a breathtaking view of the city and the Belvédère Outremont. Take a moment to enjoy the sunset, and share a bottle of Quebec's signature apple cider, cidre de glace, with friends and fellow hikers.
French Language tip: The park often hosts French-speaking events, like Montreal Accueil's evening picnic, which are a great way to meet French speakers and taste local delicacies.
10. A festival for every season
Montreal's nickname, "the city of festivals" is well-deserved, as there's always something happening year-round. The International Jazz Festival and the Montreal World Film Festival are what we call incontournables (not-to-be-missed). If you're looking for something a bit more eclectic or an excuse to dress up, Igloofest is perfect for winter visitors to rock their flashiest ski suits and Osheaga on Saint-Helen's Island is your go-to for summer vibes, wood trails and lovers of art installations. No language tips here, just have a good time and enjoy the music!
Montreal offers a unique experience for those looking to practice their French language skills while exploring a diverse and vibrant city. These activities will ensure that your trip to Montreal is both educational and unforgettable. Big props to our wonderful teacher Margaux for her tips and recommendations based on her experience living in Montreal. Profitez bien de votre voyage !
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