Hiring a Montreal RV – What You Need To Know
With a major airport and close to the Great Lakes, the United States and some wonderful parts of Canada like the Atlantic provinces, Montreal makes a great choice as a starting point for an RV road trip. A rental will mean you can explore the city and surrounds at your own pace.
The metropolis of Montreal is, behind Paris, the second-largest French-speaking city in the world. Blessed with so much history and culture, it is widely acknowledged as a fabulous place to live and visit. It is also gorgeous to look at and was named a UNESCO City of Design, where old and new juxtapose to great effect.
Spread over two river-edged islands and parts of the mainland, Montreal’s many neighbourhoods are full of hidden gems. Restaurants, bars, events, museums and historical sites are spread over the entire city - there is always something to do or see. Hence the reason why motorhome/RV holidays are such a good idea here.
Travellers of all kinds, on all budgets, can find a place to their liking in Montreal. In the Latin Quarter are many of the cheaper hotels and hostels, while those with more to spend might like to stay in the lovely Old Montreal, where many hotels are housed within beautiful heritage buildings. Downtown chain hotels are good value for money. Guest houses in the city are called gîtes, and range from small studios to historic homes of three to five rooms. For a very personal experience, try couchsurfing - this is the city where couchsurfing.org has the most members. Also, you don’t need to head too far out of the city to find camping grounds to park up your RV.
What’s Happening – And Where
Montreal plays host to a number of significant events. They can be on the streets or at the various cinemas and parks spread through the neighbourhoods, or the event spaces, including the Palais des Congrès convention centre and Olympic Stadium. Music, art and film festivals are extremely popular. Most significant are the Montreal International Jazz Festival, POP Montréal International Music Festival, Francofolies, the World Film Festival and Shakespeare in the Park. The city also has an International Fireworks Competition mid-summer, which is quite an event.
Eat and Drink in Montreal
With its quasi-European style and atmosphere, it is no surprise that Montreal is full of good food. The variety is spectacular and the various ethnic communities have made wonderful contributions to the scene, with fresh and flavourful Asian dishes, Jewish specialties of smoked meat and top-notch bagels (seriously, try the bagels). There’s also an increasing number of food-truck operators with tastes from around the world. Of course French cooking is huge and there are numerous restaurants, cafés and boulangeries, where one can experience an authentic Parisian-style meal. Be aware that many eateries are BYO and there are often no corkage fees.
Legal drinking age in Québec is 18 and the best streets for bar-hopping are Rue Crescent, Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Saint-Denis, which has a stronger Francophone influence. It is worth leaving your cozy motorhome for a night out in this fabulous city!
Locals and Language
The city has over 1.6 million inhabitants and a range of ethnicities - with Europeans the biggest group. So many different communities serve up a cosmopolitan feel and flavour, which is always fresh and exciting. The region’s many churches tell of its Roman Catholic traditional roots, but all religions and world views are commonplace.
French is the primary language, followed by English. It is an important centre for the production of French-language TV, radio and performing arts in Canada. Historically, there has been some separation between the two groups and English speakers are still largely concentrated on the west side of the island. But many people are bilingual and all languages are integrated with relative ease.
What to Do
Old Montreal is one of the most scenic and historically interesting places to visit. Filled with cobblestoned streets, French restaurants, museums and heritage architecture, it imparts a sense of being in a European town centre. The Old Port has a pretty green space around the waterfront and is home to the Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal Science Centre and Clock Tower.
Winter can be fun in Montreal. Ice-skating is popular around the city and often free. Neighbourhood spaces, such as Parc du Mont-Royal and the park on the Ile de la Visitation, offer ski rental during snowy months for cross-country skiing on the groomed paths.
The most famous landmark is Basilique Notre Dame or Notre Dame Basilica. Visually striking on the outside and stunningly beautiful inside, this is one of Montreal’s top ten places to visit. The interior is an explosion of colours and sculptures, with incredible stained-glass windows. From Tuesday night to Saturday night, a sound and light show is staged inside the building.
If possible, your own two feet are the best way to get around downtown Montreal. Taxis and rental vehicles are helpful for longer journeys, but traffic is a hindrance in the city. Cycling is better, and there is a public bike rental system called Bixi which operates a network of bike docking stations. For a fee you can, for 24 hours, use any bike for up to 30 minutes at a time. Outside the city, an RV is the best way to get around and visit the region.
The Metro system, operated by STM, connects with the buses. An unlimited pass will allow you to travel with unlimited transfers for 90 minutes on both systems. One-day and three-day passes are also available.
The climate in Montreal is semi-continental, which means warm and humid summers and very cold winters, with snow on the ground for an average of over 100 days each year. In December, January and February the average temperatures are below zero. The sun is often out in summertime, with average daily temperatures of around 20 degrees.