9 things to know before visiting Montreal
Ranked as one of the most popular travel destinations for tourists in the world, Montreal is an exciting city with a perfect blend of youthful energy and old school charm.
However, before you plan your trip, there are some customs, laws and visitor’s tips you would need to know—especially if you’re a first-time visitor. Here are a few local quirks that would guide you as you navigate the beautiful city of Montreal.
- It is a bilingual city
Like some regions in Canada, Montreal’s official language is French and in fact, it is one of the largest primarily French-speaking cities in the world.
Also, Montreal ranks as the most bilingual city in Canada, with nearly 60 per cent of its residents being able to speak both English and French fluently. Therefore, whether you are English or French-speaking, you may not have any trouble communicating with locals or servers.
However, you might still want to learn some basic conversational vocabulary in both English and French, especially for expressing polite gestures like thanking and greeting.
- You can’t make a right turn on a red light
Montreal is one of the few places in Canada where drivers are not allowed to make a right turn on a red light—unless stated otherwise.
This rule is quite strange for tourists who are used to making that turn but this law was made to ensure the safety of pedestrians. However, the rest of Quebec allows drivers to turn on a red light.
- There are low and peak seasons
If you visit Montreal during winter—particularly in January or February—you’re bound to meet a really quiet and less-activity filled city. So, if you really want to enjoy the best the city of Montreal has to offer, it is recommended that you visit during the peak periods.
However, no matter the season, there are always some activities to explore—and you can even choose to explore online sports betting platforms like sportsbook Canada while searching for your next go-to spot.
- Know the ‘Happy Hour’ terms
At certain times during the week, you’re bound to see restaurants, bars and pubs put out signs for “5-à-7” which is pronounced as cinq-à-sept in both English and French. This simply means that there’s a special offer available at that time.
So, whenever you see that sign, just know that there’s a happy hour offer available.
- ‘Dep’ is a convenience store
In Montreal, you’d hear a lot of locals use the word ‘dep’ and while you may easily get confused, it is just a popular term for a convenience store.
The word was coined from the French word depanneur, which refers to a corner or convenience store as the case may be. So, be sure to blend in and use the word dep while describing a convenience store in Montreal.
- The ‘metro’ is the subway
The public transportation system in Montreal is called the STM but in local parlance, it is commonly referred to as the metro or taking the bus, depending on the scenario.
For those coming from nearby cities like Toronto, the use of the metro can be somewhat confusing since the underground train is typically called the subway or TTC—which is the initials of the city’s public transportation system.
- There are lots of festivals
One of the most festive cities in Canada is Montreal and this makes it a very popular destination amongst tourists.
All year-round, numerous fun and entertaining events are happening, especially during the summer (from June to September). Visiting during these periods would leave you in awe of the different activities available from music festivals to food, dance and cultural celebrations.
When planning a trip to Montreal, always take out time to check the available festivals and make the most of your visit.
- The legal drinking age is 18
In most provinces and territories in Canada, the legal drinking age is 19 but one of the reasons why Montreal has become a popular party destination is because of its lower drinking age—in addition to the numerous festivals.
Don’t be surprised if you walk into a bar or club filled with young students who might not even be in university yet.
- Montreal beer is different from other beers
If you’re ordering a beer specially brewed in Montreal, it’s important to know that it is much different from other beers you might be used to.
Local and regional microbreweries in Quebec produce creative beers that have more flavour and higher alcohol content than normal—mostly 6 per cent more alcohol.