Is there a city with more exceptional French cuisine in North America? Not likely. Of the 5,000 or so restaurants in Montreal, a growing number are taking traditional French cuisine in new directions; it’s sometimes called “French-Fusion”, and gourmets will discover California/Pacific Rim nuances at Toqué, generally regarded as the city’s finest restaurant. (Do make sure your credit card isn’t near its limit.) For more down-home fare, stop in at bistros where you can BYOB of wine, or sample more than 60 varieties of cheeses that can rival their unpasteurized French cousins, and tarte au sucre, a maple sugar-flavored pie.
From pubs and jazz bars, to discos and strip clubs (legalized in 2001), always-lively Montreal offers Canada’s best after-hours entertainment. If you’re in the mood for a Pernod, take a taxi to Boulevard St. Laurent, where you can dine in a bistro and then hop from one dance club to another and never leave the same block. A short stroll away is the French-flavored Latin Quarter, where open-air cafés, bars (last call at 3 a.m.), and clubs along Rue Denis provide the summer backdrop for the Montreal Jazz Festival.
A couple of years ago, Montreal was Bicycling magazine’s pick as the best cycling city in North America — and it’s easy to see why. For starters, a 200-mile network of bike paths allows many city dwellers to commute by bike (or roller-blade). You can ride all around the island (a complete bike path guide is available in most bookstores), but start with the 7-mile section along the Lachine Canal. And, oh, yes, you can take your bike on the Metro…