Montreal is truly a bilingual city, and travelling there will feel like a trip to Europe.
Situated on the St. Laurence River, the city is actually an island bordered by rivers and lakes. While you’ll hear French spoken all around you, don’t worry…the population is composed of people who can also speak English. It’s common in Montreal to encounter many individuals who can converse well in several languages.
Count on snow and colder temperatures in Montreal between November and March. For kids who visit from warm climates, the snow and ice are a winter wonderland and the opportunities to enjoy the frosty fun are endless. Mount Royal Park offers sleigh rides – just bundle up in coats and mittens, snuggle into the blankets provided, and dash off through the surrounding woods with horses and harnesses jingling all the way!
There are indoor rinks, but in Montreal the real fun is ice skating outdoors at several locations that even have pavilions for skate rentals, provide instructors and serve up hot chocolate when you’re ready for a warm up. Try your hand at sledding or tubing in the park – there are vendors that rent equipment and helmets for a day of fun streaking down the hills.
Visiting Montreal February to April allows participation in the traditional local “sugaring off” when the sap from the sugar maple trees is collected and boiled down to make maple syrup. The Sugar Shacks are open to all-day activities, with a favourite for kids being the making of maple taffy. The hot and thick maple syrup is poured onto the snow to harden into this traditional Canadian sweet treat. A great place for children to participate in this process is the Tree House at the Montreal Botanical Gardens or the Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park.
Visit the Olympic Park or wander through the old city, known as Vieux Montreal. When the weather turns bad, tuck into a café for creamy hot chocolate and croissants or the especially delicious local specialty, homemade bagels. The Montreal farmer’s markets are a delight to kids and their parents with ethnic specialties and a variety of uniquely Canadian offerings. Try the maple cornets – tiny cones filled with maple taffy, the sucre – a smooth maple butter, or sweet honey sticks. The largest farmer’s markets, Marche Jean Talon and Atwater Market, are open year round.