Montréal: The Perfect Winter Getaway

with Martha Chapman

Aura, at the Notre Dame Basilica, is the hot new draw

The Alexander Calder exhibit with his legendary mobiles is proving popular at the Museum of Fine Arts

Good enough to eat: some of the delectable goodies at the Atwater Market

Are there any words more alluring than “Weekend in Montreal”? I don’t think so.  Even in winter (and they say winter was invented here), there is never a shortage of ways to soak up the ambience that is Quebec’s largest city.

For clients who are truly afraid of the cold, you can reassure them that YUL is well worth a visit, even this time of year. For over 50 years it has been home to the “underground city” – a vast network of stores, malls, hotels and attractions (e.g. Le Centre Bell) and transit, including both the VIA station and the very efficient subway known as the Metro. All accessible without going outside!

Other major indoor attractions include  the delightful Museum of Fine Arts, and, a personal favourite, the fascinating Fur Museum which showcases the crucial role the fur trade played in our nation’s history. In all, Montreal is home to some 50 museums from archaeology to science, folk art, fashion, firefighting and even dentistry.  

A new must-see is Aura, the sound and light show inside Notre Dame Cathedral in the city’s atmospheric Old Montreal quarter. An astonishing combination of lasers, projections of nature and synthesized music inside the church’s beautiful interior that won’t soon be forgotten.

And if all this works up an appetite, so much the better: the food scene is legendary here. A recent visit included a stop at the absolute classic Moishe’s steak house (best to arrive very, very hungry) and the eclectic Else’s in the city’s uber-hip Plateau neighbourhood. There, your clients will find casual food in the atmosphere of someone’s cluttered and cozy living room.

Since authenticity and mingling with the locals is the big trend in travel, recommend a visit to the thriving Atwater Market for rubbing shoulders with the locals as they pick up their bison sausages, eye-poppingly colourful vegetables and confit de canard.  Some hand-made chocolates will make a nice souvenir!

And if cold weather isn’t an in issue, it’s good to know that Montrealers truly embrace winter. There are countless skating rinks, outdoor yoga (yup, it’s called Yoga Neige), sledding down Mount Royal and the annual festival of music, light and showmanship known as Igloofest, taking place 17JAN-2FEB next year.

Winter in Montreal?  Bring it on!

Martha Chapman

Martha Chapman Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.




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