Montreal is a pretty unique place. Sure, at first glance, it looks like a typical metropolis with skyscrapers, commercial districts, and the like. However, the destination offers a lot more than that. For one thing, it's a French city. In a largely English-speaking country like Canada, that alone makes Montreal pretty novel. And while it's not exactly Paris, this city has its own sets of charms worth your while. You'll only get to see them if you explore the city's many neighborhoods including Downtown Montreal, Griffintown, and Old Montreal, among many others.
If you imagined Montreal as a sprawling metropolis a'la New York, you're probably thinking of Downtown Montreal. Skyscrapers, office buildings, and the like make up this part of the city, making it the business district. If you're not working in this area, you're likely shopping at Sainte-Catherine street, the famous avenue lined with luxury brands, high-street labels, and more. Or you're probably visiting all sorts of attractions instead, ranging from museums and galleries to theaters and more!
Source: Wikimedia Commons
You can probably already tell by its name alone what the Gay Village is among the many Montreal neighborhoods. Just like Le Marais
in Paris or Eixample (a.k.a. 'Gayxample
') in Barcelona, the Gay Village is the LGBTQ+ hub of this French-speaking city. Located east of Quartier Latin, it's a close-knit residential community full of small businesses, family-owned shops, and more. Come nightfall, however, the nightlife district livens up unlike any other! Think gay clubs, drag bars, and more!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Thomas Ledl
Who would've ever thought that this former farmland and rural village would grow to be one of the most bustling areas in Montreal? Côte-Des-Neiges is now a lively neighborhood where students, immigrant families, and more live. Its diverse communities have led to a number of incredible restaurants, shops, boutiques, and all sorts of other businesses. And if you're looking for the best tourist attraction around, it's undoubtedly Saint-Joseph’s Oratory. Perched atop Mount Royal, doesn't this place remind you of Sacré-Cœur in Paris?
Source: Flickr.com/ abdallahh
Griffintown is a largely residential area filled with luxury homes
, studio rentals, and more. It's a far cry from what it used to be—an industrial district full of warehouses, machinery, and the like. Thanks to its constant revitalization over the years, this place has become one of the best neighborhoods in Montreal. Over time, lots of locals and tourists alike chose to settle down here instead of in the other districts in the city. That alone should tell you what Griffintown is truly like!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Richard Mc Neil
Montreal might not be regarded as a food capital, but one of its neighborhoods, Little Burgundy, surely puts up a good argument for it! What used to be a working-class industrial district eventually became a collection of high-end restaurants, chic bistros, exceptional diners, and even a few hipster cafes in between! In the early 2000s, Little Burgundy became the culinary center of Montreal. If you're up for a good meal, this place can feed you unlike any other!
Source: Flickr.com/ Caribb
There's always that one district in every European city that looks as if time has stopped. And while it's not a metropolis in the 'Old Contient
,' Montreal has one too—Old Montreal. Going here will feel like you traveled back in time! Thin cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways between brick buildings, and a grand public square by the Notre Dame Cathedral. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were in Paris! However, the weather, the English speakers, and the nice locals will remind you that you're in Montreal.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Park Extension, also known as 'Park-Ex,' is the immigrant hub of Montreal. The community here is arguably the most diverse among all of the Montreal neighborhoods, with residents coming from different parts of the world. Specifically, people from the Caribbean, Latin America, and South Asia have settled down here. Because of that, this working-class neighborhood is undoubtedly among the most colorful out there. Experience a clash of cultures and cuisines when you explore this part of Montreal!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Bohemian Baltimore
If you thought Paris was the only French-speaking major city with a Latin Quarter
, think again! Quartier Latin, similarly to its Parisian counterpart, is the bohemian center of Montreal. Since Université du Québec à Montréal
and Cégep du Vieux Montréal
are located here, the community is mostly made of students and young professionals. So of course, the energy and vibe here are a lot more youthful compared to the other Montreal neighborhoods. And if you want to talk about nightlife, this place has a slew of bars and nightclubs you won't want to miss!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Alain Rouiller
Located on the southwest edge of Montreal, Saint-Henri also boasts a lively atmosphere, comparable to that of Quartier Latin. However, you can say that this is the calmer counterpart to that district. For the most part, Saint-Henri is a largely residential area where blue-collar families and young professionals live. The housing here is more affordable compared to other parts of the city, making it one of the best neighborhoods in Montreal for those who stick to a strict budget.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Jeangagnon
It's safe to say that Villeray serves as the suburbs of Montreal. Although many other Montreal neighborhoods are just as residential, they're not as family-friendly. Villeray is the kind of place where you'll want to settle down when you get married and have kids. You can easily score a home with a nice yard that's also close to parks, public pools, sports courts, and more. There are also many shops that sell various necessities so you don't have to travel far to get what you need!
Source: Flickr.com/ Axel Drainville
Montreal neighborhoods are a lot more diverse than you probably first thought. Once you get to explore this exceptional city in Quebec, Canada, you'll understand that it's not what you might have expected it to be.