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Courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commision
Published in NorthEast Tennis Magazine Summer 2006

 

Montréal, North America's most European destination

roger federer long island tennisIf you're planning a trip north of the border, you would be wise to make Montréal part of your vacation. The love child of a heady European-North American union, Montréal has blossomed into an alluring beauty whose reverence for its past is matched by a thoroughly contemporary vision. The city's captivating juxtaposition of old and new is most evident in its architecture. On the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal, history and innovation have been artfully combined, as nineteenth-century factories house luxury boutique hotels, and old lofts have been transformed into chic modern dwellings. Downtown, the study in contrasts extends even further: Victorian brownstones stand alongside contemporary architectural structures, while neo-Gothic churches share sidewalk space with soaring steel towers. But it's not just the buildings that make Montréal such an exciting destination; it's the people that who inhabit them. And no other people in the world celebrate life's many facets as fully and passionately as do Montrealers.

The art of eating well
Montrealers long-standing love affair with food is really quite breathtaking. For proof, just visit any one of their vibrant outdoor markets, where farmers proudly share the fruits of their labour-a profusion of greens and reds and yellows and oranges that invite visitors to taste and touch with their earthy fragrances. Fruit, vegetable and flowers stalls are interspersed with a mouth-watering array of specialty shops, selling meats, cheeses, oils and pastries and other special products, all lovingly and locally crafted. The market is the non-official meeting place for Montréal's different cultural communities, as all manner of tastes, flavours and spices converge to dazzle the senses. This is also where Montréal's celebrated chefs bring their grocery list, masterfully turning les produits du terroir into
today's most sought-out menus. In total, Montréal boasts more than 6,500 restaurants representing 80 different world cuisines that deftly combine global flavours with classic European fare in endless epicurean innovation.

Neighbourhoods worth exploring
Whether due to space or economy, downtown Montréal and surrounding neighbourhoods are compactly designed-ergo, very pedestrian-friendly. Each neighbourhood has its own distinct feel and treasure trove of finds or experiences. Downtown is renowned for its endless shopping, especially on Sainte-Catherine Street, a 15-km-long artery home to approximately 1,200 stores, shops, malls and boutiques crammed with the latest trends in fashion and home decorating. If you can't find what you're looking for above ground, dig a little deeper: Montréal's alter ego, the Underground City, boasts 32 kilometres of brightly-lit, modern pedestrian passageways connecting you to a whopping 1,700 more boutiques. On the streets of the ultra-hip Plateau and upscale Outremont, you'll find a wonderful assortment of boutiques both chic and inviting as well as restaurants and cafés,
where locals indulge in two of their favourite past times: people watching and terrace sitting. In the lively quarter of Little Italy, you can watch the locals play bocce in public parks, visit an authentic trattoria or join the locals in an espresso and spirited discussion.


Non-stop summer festivals
long island tennis mag, montrealWhere as other city centres are plagued by the post-business day exodus, Montréal is way too clever to fall victim to this misfortune. In fact, downtown streets are the place to be to catch most of the action. Summer unfurls a dazzling line-up of events that invites hundreds of thousands to its downtown core to revel in the hot days and sultry nights of the city's myriad festivals. Ushering in the official summer season on the June/July cusp is the much-anticipated and highly-celebrated Festival International de Jazz de Montréal,-you can just shorten it to "the Jazz", like the locals-nearly two weeks in which the biggest names in jazz, blues, reggae and other musical influences thrill audiences on indoor and outdoor stages (the outdoor acts, unbelievably, come absolutely free). No sooner has the last note floated into the air than the Just for Laughs Festival has everyone in stitches with eclectic, zany and hilarious acts that include some of the biggest names on the comedy circuit. In August, it's celluloid or digital at the Montréal World Film Festival, which features the latest screenings, some under the stars, from countries the world over. Last, but definitely not least, there's tennis: the Uniprix Stadium in Jarry Park is host to the Rogers Cup, which annually alternates men's and women's championships. This summer, it's the women's turn to shine as powerhouses such as Amélie Mauresmo, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Nadia Petrova and Maria Sharapova battle it out for the court's top honours.

Green spaces and party places
And while Montréal enjoys all of its urban pleasures, it has plenty of green space for outdoor enthusiasts. The lush Mount Royal gives joggers, walkers and cyclists the chance to stretch their legs, while golf buffs have their pick of some of the finest greens right on the island. Waterside, you can suit up for a wild jet boat ride or go rafting down the Lachine Rapids of the St. Lawrence River. After a day outdoors, the party never stops in Montréal, if you've still got the energy. Remember what was mentioned earlier about people and outdoor terraces? Well, night time is no exception. Head to Crescent Street and you'll find a profusion of nightclubs, bars and cafés where patrons go to eat, drink, see and be seen, from the jet-set to the trendy to everyone in between. A little further east, Saint-Denis Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard offer up even more entertainment and lively conversation at their diverse selection of bars, clubs, cafés and restaurants.

A passionate people, an incredible city
No matter where you go in Montréal, you'll be surrounded by people celebrating life in all of its dimensions. And celebrating is what they do best-whether it's enjoying a gourmet meal, pushing creative boundaries to thrilling new heights or sharing in a spirited conversation-because Montrealers have an innate understanding of life. and how to revel in its every moment.