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The Grown-Up's Guide to Montreal Attractions

Attractions in Montreal, Canada's Most Sophisticated City

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Montreal is the anti-Disney: A sophisticated adult playground, where pleasures for grown-ups -- from savoring fine food and wine, to casino gambling, to boutique shopping, to the spirit of l'amour itself -- add to the city's many attractions. These are among the best for couples traveling free of children.

1. Check into a Top Montreal Hotel

Opus Montreal Hotel.
When it comes to hotels, Montreal has properties to suit every type of couple. Hip duos will find Opus Montreal sexy and modern. The full-service Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in the city center lays claim to the John & Yoko Suite, where the pair recorded the song "Give Peace a Chance" from their bed. Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile drips with French savoir-faire. Pierre du Calvet in Vieux Montreal oozes old-world charm. And the elegant and traditional The Ritz Carlton, Montreal is close to several of the most sophisticated shopping, dining, and museum attractions in Montreal.

2. Explore Montreal by Land and by Sea

Vincent Sardone.
The Old Port area of Montreal alongside the St. Lawrence River is one of the most scenic spots to stroll. Couples can also rent bikes; a 220-mile long bicycle path leads cyclists in and around Montreal. And the city has more than one thousand parks. For utterly romantic transportation, hire a caleche (horse-drawn carriage). Any time of year, explore the underground city on foot. Want to sail on the water? Amphibus provides a land-and-sea city tour in the same floating vehicle to help you get your bearings. (To avoid family groups, come late in the day.) Montreal's long and slender Le Bateau Mouche boats run day tours teeming with kiddies; dinner cruises provide a better opportunity to surround yourselves with grown ups.

3. Savor Epicurean Delights

Like to cook, or just eat? Epicier is Montreal's new gourmet store-and-restaurant where couples can find delicacies that include parmesan oil, maple vinegar, and ginger jam. And La Vieille Europe stocks more than 300 different kinds of cheeses along with cold cuts, breads, and everything else you might need to take on a picnic.

4. Shop for Montreal Treasures

Plan to leave extra room in your suitcase to pack the treasures you pick up in Montreal: The sweetly intoxicating ice wine, genuine maple syrup from the countryside, Fruits & Passion products for the skin and bath, Roots leather goods.

And if you like to wear hard-to-find labels, along rue Ste-Catherine you can find the city's top department stores. Holt Renfrew, Ogilvy's, and Hudson's Bay Company carry Canadian, French, and international brands as well as ones familiar to United States shoppers.

5. Dine Like a Montreal Gourmet

Montreal is home to some 5,000 restaurants. These include cozy French bistros in the Old Port where couples can linger over a bottle of wine to Little Italy spots where you can bring your own. Everyone stops by Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen at least once to sample the city's world-famous smoked meat. And gourmets won't leave the Beaver Club in The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth disappointed.

Coming to propose marriage, or something more provocative? Reserve a spot at the historic, much-photographed, circa-1725 Pierre du Calvet in the heart of Old Montreal. The building housing it contains opulent, Victorian-style rooms, so you need not go far if someone swoons -- or agrees to be seduced.

6. Take a Tango Lesson

Did you know Montreal is tango-crazy? (Why would you?) The city even has an annual Tango Festival that features the world's best practitioners of this sexy dance. Regardless of when you visit, though, Montreal's tango parlors are open for business, offering classes for couples and milonga demonstrations for appreciative spectators.

7. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica

No visit to the Old Port is complete without stepping inside the magnificent nineteenth-century Notre-Dame Basilica, completed in Gothic Revival style. The soaring interior, in addition to its intricate carving, includes brilliantly hued stained-glass windows. Rather than ancient biblical scenes, each these depict the religious history of Canada, complete with images of the faithful forging through the icy wilderness.

8. Admire Montreal's Museums

Vincent Sardone.
While family visitors explore Montreal attractions such as the Biodome and Insectarium, you can get an adult fix of fun at the city's eye-opening and thought-provoking museums. Among the top ones: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts collects and displays European art, Canadian art, Inuit and Amerindian art, contemporary art and decorative arts. Connected to the underground city, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art features new and conceptual art and stages multimedia events, including performance, experimental theatre, video, and film. Château Ramezay Museum, in the Old Port area, is a small history museum that features paintings and objects from Montreal's past in a circa-1705 stone building.

9. Try Your Luck at Casino Montreal

Shaped like a multi-deck ship moored at the former Expo 67 site across from the Old Port, the unique Casino Montreal operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's a short cab ride from the city center. Games such as blackjack, roulette, poker, keno, pai gow, and baccarat, familiar to any English-speaking gambler, are conducted in French. (How much more elegant it is to hear "égalité!" at the 21 table than, "That's a push.") Dealers, croupiers, and many players are bi-lingual, so if you want to bet or ask a question in English, you will be understood. Naturally, all bets are made with Canadian currency, and cashiers will readily exchange US dollars.

10. Come to One of Montreal's Amazing Festivals

Montreal Jazz Festival
Passionate people who love music, laughter, movies, fast cars, and more circle their calendars in anticipation of their favorite festival in Montreal. The Montreal Jazz Festival is considered the world’s biggest and best of its kind. It takes place from late June through the first week of July, showcasing more than 2,500 artists in 500-plus concerts from noon to midnight. Also held in the summer, Just for Laughs, the Montreal Comedy Festival attracts world-class comedians and fresh talent. Several hotels offer packages that include accommodations, admissions, dinner, and personal assistance throughout the stay. And at the end of the summer, Montreal's World Film Festival gives lovers one more reason to cuddle in the dark.

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