Place_des_Arts Montreal Photo by Jeangagnon
City Break Travel Ideas

Canada: Montreal, the most romantic city in North America

I loved my experiences in New York City and Philadelphia but otherwise American cities tend to leave me cold. I thought the New World cities couldn’t compete with the romance of Europe, that is, until I met Montreal.

I’m a Europhile when it comes to urban environments. I love historic architecture and cities that are rich with the sense that if these stones could talk they could tell wonderful tales..

So what makes this charming and sophisticated city the most romantic in North America?

History geek

Montreal’s colonial history (both French and British) is the reason for its rich heritage of historic architecture.  After all this was once the Canadian capital and in the 18th century the fur trade, and subsequent commercial success made it a significant centre of finance, administration and culture.

The capital may have moved to Toronto but Montreal enjoys and preserves the legacy of centuries past. You just have to stroll past the impressive 19th-century banking buildings on Saint Jacques Street to get a glimpse of what the city was like 150 years ago.

I especially love the architecture of Place d’Armes. Here you can see wonderful examples of everything from gothic-revival to art deco and the international style of the 1930s. And of course the glorious Notre Dame Basilica is the jewel in the crown of romantic Old Montreal.

Culture vulture

Most people’s idea of a romantic getaway includes a cultural event or two, like a trip to the theatre. Montreal has a vibrant cultural scene, with interesting theatre productions that are more unique than the NYC-style Broadway shows. It is also well known for mime and dance theatre productions and of course is the original birthplace of the Cirque du Soleil.

The city is crowded with galleries and art spaces – it is a seriously creative city, particularly in its role as the French-language leader in Canada. Public art takes centre stage in this city, for example in metro stations.

In summer there are festivals, the famous jazz festival of course and many other events in the summer months, including street markets, fireworks and parades.

Romantic city break

The cobblestoned streets of Montreal are perfect for wandering hand-in-hand during your romantic city break, especially when it is snowing. Cafes line the streets and you’ll feel like you’re in Europe as soon as you step out of an Old Montreal hotel such as Le Saint Sulpice!

Montreal’s restaurant scene is outstanding. For relaxed, romantic eating out in summer, how about the Triple Crown Dinette Montreal in Montreal’s Little Italy neighborhood? Eat in or get a personalized picnic basket and take if to one of the city’s many parks.   Or try a delicious feast of crêpes in cold weather, such as Crêperie Chez Suzette in Old Montreal.

Exploring the city by horse-drawn carriage is the ultimate romantic way to spend an afternoon or evening. Take a ride through cobblestoned Old Montreal on a calèche and soak up the historic atmosphere. You can catch a ride from Place Jacques Cartier, Place d’Armes or de la Commune Street.

So if you can’t make it to Paris with your loved one this Valentine’s Day, how about a romantic getaway in Montreal – the most romantic city in Montreal!

By Natasha von Geldern

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