On summer city breaks in Montréal bask in the sunshine at plaza cafés throughout the city. Lively Place Jacques-Cartier, in the heart of Old Montréal, is an ideal place to sip an afternoon coffee, surrounded by 17th- and 18th -century architecture and serenaded by street musicians. Relax over a glass of local Vandal-Cliché wine or order a crisp summer salad and sandwich on crusty French bread at brasserie terraces throughout chic Plateau Mont-Royal. In the Montréal neighborhood of Little Italy diners stroll past grape arbors and potted tomato plants en route to dinner on shaded trattoria patios, where the air is aromatic with garlic and fresh basil.
Whatever your interest, Montréal has a summer festival for you. The city’s largest and most popular is the Festival International de Jazz, which welcomes 1 million visitors each year. Pop Montréal is one of the world’s finest independent rock festivals, while techno music rules at Mutek. Montréal’s Just For Laughs attracts some of the world’s best comedians, who lighten the already festive mood of summer nights in Montréal.
Amateur athletes flock to Montréal’s Parc du Mont-Real in summer, using the mountain’s network of footpaths for running, inline skating and cool evening strolls under a canopy of maples. To the north, joggers can’t help but be inspired on morning runs through Olympic Park, home of the 1976 Olympic games. The 271-meter Olympic Tower stands at the center of leafy green boulevards that surround the stadium and lead to Parc Maisonneuve, a favorite for morning strolls and afternoon golf.
In a city known for its French culture, tango rules Montréal summers. Flirtatious dance partners twirl and stomp across Little Italy Park and Saint-Viateur Park. In July, the Montréal International Tango Festival fills plazas with Argentinean music and dancers from around the world. And in August Tango Under the Stars steams up Friday nights with performances in Old Montréal’s Place des Vestiges.
Old Montréal, the imposing Mont-Royal and the city’s modern suburbs provide the scenery for relaxing summer cruises along the St. Lawrence River. Croisières AML recounts Montréal’s four centuries of history on sightseeing excursions. Toast Montréal as sunset gives way to twinkling stars on evening cruises. Or time your boat trip to coincide with Montréal’s annual ongoing summer fireworks competition.
When summer arrives, Montréal’s public markets are piled high with fragrant, fresh strawberries and raspberries, juicy peaches and crisp apples, all plucked from vines and orchards just outside the city. Visit the Maisonneuve Market in Hochelaga-Masonneuve to browse fruit stands within an elegant beaux-arts building. The Art Deco Atwater Market on the Lachine Canal adds freshly-caught seafood to the mix, and Little Italy’s Jean- Talon Market specializes in raw-milk, farm-fresh cheeses and handmade crêpes, perfect for summertime picnics.
Delay a return to your Montréal summer hotel to watch the sky overhead burst with a summer-long fireworks competition, L’International des Feux Loto-Québec. Held from June through August, the contest bathes the sky with a dazzling kaleidoscope of color staged by pyrotechnic experts from five continents. Spectators crowd around La Ronde on Île Sainte- Hélène to see the fireworks launched; others gather on rooftop terraces each weekend in Old Montréal to see the sky light up.