Whether you’re looking for a taste of European history or simply want to explore a new culture without crossing an ocean, Montreal has much to offer to a traveler and his Gnome.
Actually an island bordered by two rivers in southwest Quebec, this Canadian city is sure to meet all visitors’ expectations. From its mesmerizing art and buildings to a host of nature- and entertainment-related activities, you and your Gnome will find yourselves with jam-packed schedules as you work to cram as much adventure as possible into your stay.
Be sure to make a stop at the majestic Notre Dame Basilica, where you can admire the architecture and stained glass. Attend Mass to hear the choir harmonize with the pipe organ, or visit during the evening to take in the “And Then There Was Light” sound and light show, which spotlights the church’s history, architecture and artwork.
Like most of the world’s top tourist destinations, Montreal is home to a slew of museums showcasing all sorts of artifacts and cultural samples. If museums are appealing to you and your Gnome, you won’t want to miss the Pointe-a-Calliere archaeological museum or the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art.
For a bird’s-eye view of Montreal, ascend 575 feet to the Montreal Tower Observatory, which allows visitors to see 50 miles across the city. Highlights will include sights of the Laurentian Mountains and the site of the 1976 Olympics Games. You will also have the option of later taking a tour of the Olympic pools and stadium.
You can also obtain a less dramatic view of the city by biking, driving or walking to the Mount Royal Summit. Mount Royal offers a host of activities, ranging from bird-watching spots to a playground where your Gnome can run freely. On Sunday mornings from spring to fall, Mount Royal is home to Tam Tams, drummers’ jam sessions that attract crowds of listeners and dancers. You and your Gnome will soon be bopping to the rhythmic beat of the assorted drums.
Other seasonal festivals include February’s Montreal High Lights Festival, which draws 750,000 attendees with its performing arts shows, fireworks, food and other entertainment. Summer visitors will find hours of entertainment at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, which boasts musicians from around the world who perform hundreds of concerts from late June to early July.
Want to reconnect with some of Montreal’s (not-so-dearly) departed? Sign up for a ghost walk led by a tour guide who will point out scenes of famous crimes, hangings, political demonstrations and fires. Stay close to your Gnome during this tour, which could easily cause goose bumps as you both keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of a centuries-old Canadian.
If you prefer a less spooky evening activity, try the four-hour Montreal Dinner Cruise. You’ll enjoy a five-course meal (you’ll be surprised at how much your tiny travel bud can put away!) and views of the city’s beautiful lights.
For a more informal sampling of Montreal’s cuisine, visit Jean-Talon Market, where you can purchase fresh produce or sample chocolates, wines, baked goods and so much more. With so much food at your disposal, you’ll have to monitor your Gnome’s intake. Most Gnomes’ eyes, after all, are both literally and figuratively bigger than their stomachs.
One of the best parts about traveling to Montreal is that while the French language is prominently spoken, English is also widely used. While your Gnome may pick up a few new phases during your trip, there will be no need to learn a new language before you depart for your Canadian adventure. So go ahead and start planning your trip to Montreal today. Endless opportunities await.