Montréal is beautiful all year long, and there is always a host of wonderful attractions and sights. Four very distinct seasons are present, from the hot and sunny summers to the cold, snowy winters. Ski and snowshoe through the winter, while enjoying the great food and indoor shopping. Bask in the July sun while you walk through Old Montréal or Parc Jean-Drapeau. Depending on your choice of activity, anytime is a great time to visit Montréal.
Local Holidays in Montréal
New Year’s Day (January 1)
Good Friday (March or April depending on when Easter is)
Victoria Day/Journée nationale des Patriotes (May 19)
St-Jean-Baptiste/Fête de la Saint-Jean/Fête Nationale -Quebec National Day (June 24)
Canada Day (July 1)
Labour Day (September 1)
Thanksgiving (Second Monday in October)
Christmas (December 25)
Montréal is eclectic, diverse, stylish, and above all, interesting. The business atmosphere is one of respect and is relatively conservative. While it is acceptable to call people by their first names after you have been introduced, it is always important to be respectful in this and other matters as Montréal is a proud city. Montréal is often unfairly characterized as rude or unwelcoming to guests. While it is true that you may occasionally run into someone who won’t speak to you in English even if they can, this is not the norm by any means. Most often, Montréalers react with respect if they are first approached with respect; this is why it is so important to say, “I don’t speak French. Can you help me?” rather than demanding they speak English. After all, their wonderful city is steeped with French culture and language.
Quebec is the only province in Canada in which the majority of people speak French. Over 70 percent of residents speak primarily French in the home, but many Montréalers are bilingual. Signs are written mostly in French, as are many restaurant menus.
Tips are often a large portion of income for wait staff, bartenders, and others in the tourist industry. It can be hard to keep track of what to tip whom, but in general, you should tip wait staff 15 percent of your total bill – though Canada doesn’t encourage you to tip unless your service was good. Fifteen percent is standard, but up to 20 percent is appropriate for excellent service. Other common tips are:
Hairdressers: 10to 15 percent
Baggage handlers: $1-$2 per bag
Hotel housekeepers or maids: $1-$3 per day of your stay
Taxi drivers: 10-15 percent
Bartenders: $1-$2 per drink at time you are served
According to Montréal law, stores may stay open from 9:00am to 9:00pm Monday through Friday, and 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekends. You will find that many stores and shops are closed on Monday. Many shops that are open on Monday close earlier than 9:00pm that evening, as well as on Tuesday and Wednesday. Banks are typically open from 10:00am to 3:00pm Monday through Thursday and 10:00am to 5:00pm or 6:00pm Friday. You will find some in the city that offer extended afternoon hours, as well as limited Saturday morning hours. All banks close on national holidays.
Smoking is prohibited in public buildings, such as museums, schools, airports, and malls. While not universally banned, you will find that many businesses do not allow smoking on the premises at all. It is considered rude to smoke in front of non-smokers, especially children. If you see an area marked as a smoking zone or where other smokers are having a cigarette, then it is pretty safe to light up.
Canada enjoys low crime rates, and though Montréal is a major city, it is also very safe. There are very few areas of the city that you should avoid: you should certainly be cautious everywhere you go, but you will want to be more vigilant in Montréal-Nord (North), Sainte-Michel, and parts of Rue Sainte-Catherine, particularly east of Place des Arts. Avoid walking in these areas alone, especially at night. Bars close at 3:00am, so there will be an influx of inebriated revelers.
Montréal does have its share of theft, particularly of items left in cars (and occasionally the cars themselves). When out of the car, make sure to lock it and take any valuables – especially your purse or wallet. Pick pocketing is not that common, but it is always better to be on the cautious side.
Another area in which visitors unaccustomed to the city should be aware of is that crosswalks are sometimes only marks on the road. That is, drivers rarely stop for pedestrians at them, especially if they are trying to turn right and you are blocking their path. It is safer to cross with a large group of people and make your way briskly to the other side. When you see a car coming, do not assume they will stop.
Montréal has a host of accommodations to make traveling easier for those with disabilities. YUL has parking for disabled travelers in the short term lots, as well as long-term parking in the Proxiparc parking house. There are elevators, wheelchairs available, and text telephones in the terminals. SMT also offers handicap-accessible buses. For more information on the routes and services, visit the SMT website. Both the Montréal Tourism Board (1.877.BONJOUR) and Kéroul (514.252.3104) an organization for disabled travelers based in Quebec, can provide information on accessibility.
Montréal’s seven percent sales tax is refundable for foreign visitors who have spent a minimum of $200 on merchandise and/or accommodations. To receive your refund, make sure to keep all receipts, and remember that you need the cash register receipts. Credit card receipts are not acceptable, and you will not get your refund. Within one year of purchase, you can file a claim with Canadian Tax Refund (CRT). You will receive funds in Canadian dollars, unless you are American, in which case, you will receive American funds. Download a refund application, sign, date, and attach your receipts. Send to:
CTR- Canadian Tax Refund
PO Box 42090
Vancouver. BC. V6P 6S6
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7746 Taschereau Boulevard, Brossard, Quebec, J4X 1C2, Canada
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