Visit Montreal for its big city vibe and French flair



After being deprived of travel for the past 17 months, we finally boarded an Air Canada jet and regained our joie de vivre in Montreal.

This return to travel is as much a spiritual awakening as the logistics of flights, hotels, activities, tours, meals and drinks.

Fitz & Follwell guide Daniel Bromberg walks past Mono Soureil’s Secret Garden mural on the Hoods and Hidden Gems tour.

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Fitz & Follwell guide Daniel Bromberg walks past Mono Soureil’s Secret Garden mural on the Hoods and Hidden Gems tour.

My wife Kerry and I desperately missed the wonderful experiences and emotions brought about by new places and imagined Montreal as a savior.

This French-speaking, cosmopolitan, historic city of possibilities did not let us down, we were embraced like a long-awaited lover.

We strolled for miles through the cobbled streets of Old Montreal, stopping at Place d’Armes to admire the imposing Notre-Dame Basilica, along Montreal’s oldest street, Rue Saint-Paul , and in Place Jacques-Cartier for lunch at Jardine Nelson’s courtyard behind a century-old inn.



<p>Photos by Steve MacNaull / Winnipeg Free Press</p>
<p>The night view from the top of the Montreal Ferris wheel.</p>
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<p>Photos by Steve MacNaull / Winnipeg Free Press</p>
<p>The night view from the top of the Ferris wheel of La Grande Roue de Montreal.</p>
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<p>We crossed the rue de la <a class=Commune

to the Old Port, the old industrial heart of the city that has become a tourist attraction.

There, we skipped La Grande Roue de Montréal, the huge Ferris wheel, for a panoramic view of the city’s rooftops, the St. Lawrence River and Île Sainte-Hélène with its famous Biosphere Dome.

MTL Zipline, Canada’s longest urban zipline at 400 meters, also called our name for exhilarating air transit over crowds and the Bonsecours Basin below.



<p>The rooftop pool at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal hotel.</p>
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<p>The rooftop pool at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal hotel.</p>
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<p>Still in the Old Port, we caught La Bateau-Mouche for an afternoon cruise in the St. Lawrence, with glasses of sparkling wine in hand.			</p>
<p>In search of an alternate mode of transportation, we joined guide Daniel Bromberg on Fitz & Follwell’s 10 mile Hoods and Hidden Gems bike tour.			</p>
<p>We cycled through the trendy Plateau Mont-Royal district and passed stunning murals such as the three story high <em>Secret garden</em>, and through Outremont, the eclectic Mile Ex and Park Ex, and Little Italy, before ending up at the Jean-Talon Market, the largest open-air market in northern Mexico.			</p>
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<p>Ziplines fly over the water and pass in front of the Ferris wheel Le Grand Roue de Montréal.</p>
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<p>Ziplines fly over the water and pass in front of the Ferris wheel Le Grand Roue de Montréal.</p>
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<p>Our home away from home in Montreal was the Ritz-Carlton circa 1912, the original landmark of the hotel chain.			</p>
<p>It is 11 floors of total luxury with sumptuous rooms and suites, a rooftop pool and terrace.			</p>
<p>It was from the Ritz-Carlton Grand Ballroom that Alexander Graham Bell made the first transcontinental phone call in 1916 from Montreal to Vancouver.			</p>
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<p>A junior suite at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal Hotel.</p>
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<p>A junior suite at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal Hotel.</p>
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<p>The Ritz-Carlton is also the kind of place where you feel completely spoiled like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were when they were first married in the Royal Suite and the Rolling Stones, Queen Elizabeth. , Barack Obama and Sophia Loren, when they stayed there.			</p>
<p>The Ritz-Carlton is also home to famous chef Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud, Montreal’s best restaurant.			</p>
<p>Kerry and I had the impression that Liz and Dick were dining there in the hidden courtyard of the garden on foie gras and halibut accompanied by Karim Vionnet rose.			</p>
<p>The Ritz-Carlton celebrates the return of travel to Canada with special Staycation rates including lodging, food and drink credit and welcome glasses of champagne.			</p>
<p>Air Canada operates non-stop flights between Winnipeg and Montreal several times a week.			</p>
<p>smacnaull@nowmediagroup.ca			</p>
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<p>Notre-Dame Basilica is the most famous monument in Old Montreal.</p>
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<p>Notre-Dame Basilica is the most famous monument in Old Montreal.</p>
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