Montreal: The most charming and sexy city in North America. Illustration: Andrew Barr/Canadaland
More than Canada, less than Europe. A city of cobblestones and potholes, wine in convenience stores, and unsettling levels of street clowning. If you like good food, civil unrest, high art, common-law marriage, beautiful architecture and endemic corruption:
Where to go
The Old Port: The citys historic port dates back to the early 1600s, when French fur traders used it as a trading post. Today you can catch an Imax flick there and weep at the citys neglect of the districts crumbling, ancient buildings.
The Main: The beating heart of Montral, Boulevard Saint-Laurent the citys main strip was the historical dividing line separating the citys working-class French in the east from the working-class Anglos in the west.
Park Ex: Follow the citys tearful trail of migration northwards to the borough of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc Extension, aka Park Ex. Ride the 80 bus for four hours until you arrive in the centre of Qubcois cool. Live like a local artist, weed dealer or grad student by dining on cheap Pakistani food and drinking overproof beer in Jarry Park.
What to do
Tam-Tams:Montralers gather every week in Mount Royal Park to fill the air with the beats and baps of amateur drumming. They also fill the air with the scent of stepped-on hash, beeswax candles and body odour.
Nothing: The very fact that you are consulting a travel guide tells me youre a loathsome Anglo who likes to ruin everything by planning for it. Put down this guidebook and live your life for once.
Get chided for speaking broken French:The look of contempt youll get from a Francophone say, when you ask for
laddition at a restaurant when you want your bill, as one might in France is one of the citys most beautiful sights.
Enjoy high culture:From cinema to comedy to music, to whatever
FrancoFolies is on about, arts festivals are inescapable during the few months of the year when Montral is not frozen. If you enjoy lining up for things or squeezing your body through densely packed mobs to watch jam bands noodle on free public stages, this is the place for you.
Leave: Montral is the most charming and sexy city in North America. It is sophisticated, civilised and cheap. After a weekend visit or a university degree, many will try to stay. Remember: you may love Montral, but it will never love you back.
This is an edited extract from the book The Canadaland Guide to Canada by Jesse Brown, published by Touchstone
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