What’s not to love about Montreal? The vibrant, dynamic city is gearing up to celebrate its 375th anniversary in 2017, making it “the place to be” in the words of Patrizia Dri, Director, Media, Leisure Market & Member Services for Tourisme Montreal. For this edition of Travelweek’s Friday Five, Dri talks about Montreal’s growing popularity as a cruise port and why Little Italy is her own favourite place to enjoy the city’s charms.
1. What’s the Canadian vacationer’s take on Montreal?
Dri: I believe Montréal is viewed as the most fun and exciting destination in Canada. Here we celebrate life in every form. Let’s not forget we have over 100 festivals per year and the highest percentage of restaurants with 92.8 restaurants per square kilometre, and 12.4 bars per square kilometre. Montreal is also seen as a very European and creative city. And it’s home to Cirque du Soleil and some of the best music bands in the world.
2. Montreal has become a hugely popular cruise port. How many cruise passengers does the city receive?
Dri: In 2014 we should close the year with over 50,000 international passengers, which is a slight increase from the previous year. The outlook for 2015 is extremely positive with our largest numbers yet: over 64,000 international forecasted passengers.
3. What’s new in the city?
Dri: Montreal is preparing to celebrate its 375th anniversary in 2017. Celebrations will take place all year long and many projects are being confirmed with brand new attractions, hotels and major infrastructure makeovers. The preliminary calendar of events will be out in 2015. Montreal will be the place to be in 2017!
4. What 3 must-see Montreal attractions would you recommend for a visitor who hasn’t been to the city in a while?
Dri: To really appreciate and understand Montreal one must take a full city tour with a professional tour guide. Our history, forged by our four founding nations (French, English, Irish and Scottish) played such an important role in what the city has become that it’s important to understand the influence they had on our modern city. A visit to breathtaking Notre-Dame Basilica is my second must-see. And a visit to Mount Royal Park in the heart of the city will give visitors a great perspective of all of Montreal and the St-Lawrence River. Visitors to Mount Royal can also seeing Montrealers stroll in their favourite park.
5. What’s your own favourite Montreal neighbourhood and why?
Dri: One of my favourite neighbourhoods is Little Italy. In the heart of this neighbourhood you’ll find Marché Jean Talon where locals go to buy fresh produce from Québec farmers. Ambiance, colours and food aromas are great for your senses. You can also find great coffee shops and very good Italian restaurants. Shops are still authentic and run by second or third generation Italian immigrant families.