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Fun Facts You Might Not Know About Montréal!

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Photo Credit: © Denis Labine, Parc Jean-Drapeau and Downtown Montréal

1. Montréal is an island.
The main city of Montréal occupies a 30-mile long island along the convergence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. The island is linked to the mainland by a tunnel and 15 bridges. Although this makes it sound quite expansive, most of the city's main attractions are within decent walking distance of one another, or a short bus or train ride away. Just don't expect tropical breezes and luaus!

2. Montréal is the second largest French speaking city in the world (after Paris).
Most Montréalers are bilingual, especially downtown. A non-Speaker of French can do well by greeting strangers with a confident Bonjour! Chances are that anyone who speaks French will recognize the lack of French capability and switch to English. In stores, many clerks will greet patrons with "Bonjour/Hi", indicating bilingual capability; a response of bonjour will begin a transaction in French. At the end of a transaction, you will often be sent on your way with a friendly Bonne journée (Have a nice day).

3. Montréal's predominant religion is Hockey.
No, really. Organized ice hockey, as we know it today, has its true origins in Montréal. In 1875, a McGill University student by the name of J.G.A. Creighton established a set of formal rules. In 1879, the McGill University Hockey Club was formed, making it the first organized team. Montréal's been playing hockey ever since.

4. 85% of the world's maple syrup comes from Québec, Montréal's Provence.
The maple sap collected used to make maple syrup is also used to make all kinds of maple goodies including maple butter, maple candy, marinades and baked goods. Though it's fun to pile into a bus and take off for a real country sugar-shack experience during the Temps des Sucres (sugaring-off time), it's not really necessary to hit the highways and byways of small-town Québec to taste the delicious sweet tang of maple sugar. These days, there are plenty of urban sugar-shack type experiences in the city of Montréal to satisfy your sweet tooth:

5. Montréal boasts the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America (after New York City).
Looking for places to eat? Not hard to do in this lovely city. For starters, RestoMontreal lists restaurants in close proximity to the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Also, try the Yahoo Restaurant Guide. Want to try a really unusual dining experience? The O. Noir restaurant in Montréal is a unique place where one can dine in complete darkness. There are no lights, candles or matchsticks. So in a nutshell, bring your appetite!

6. Mount Royal is a nice hike with a great view.
Montréal lies at the foot of Mt. Royal, from where the place received its name. Mount Royal Park is located on the mountain and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same person that designed New York City's Central Park. Okay so it's more of a hill than a mountain, since it's less than 150m high, but it does offer the best views of the city.

links image 7. Montréal's flag has five symbols.

  1. The cross which represents the Christian principles on which the city was founded.
  2. The fleur-de-lis for the French
  3. The Lancastrian rose for the English
  4. The shamrock for the Irish
  5. The thistle for the Scottish

8. Montréal hosted the 1976 Olympics.
These games were perhaps most famous for witnessing Romanian gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, score the perfect 10-heard-round-the-world and capture the gold in the All-Around. Today, the Olympic Park is quite a popular tourist attraction, and features a biodome that has re-created various climate zones and animal habitats.

9. links image Get Down Tonight links image and shop in Montréal's Underground City!
The Underground City is a climate-controlled labyrinth of 2000 shops, spread over an area of 18 miles. When navigating this subterranean complex, you'll know you're on the right track when you see these four little letters: RÉSO, a short form of the French word réseau, which means "network." View map (PDF). Everything in pink indicates where you can trek without ever stepping foot outside—a heavenly boon in sub-zero weather.

10. Montréal is home to more than 500km of bike routes and paths and many more km located in the surrounding region.
From mid-April to November 30 the city operates the Bixi bike share system modeled after the successful Vélib system in Paris, France. All it takes is the swipe of a credit card to borrow one of the more than 5,000 bikes at 400 self-serve stations around the city centre. An interactive map on the Bixi website indicates the current number of bikes and empty docks at each station.

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Photo Credit: © Société de vélo en libre service, "Bixi"