Destination: Montreal, Canada

Sometimes a girl just needs a baguette. Like when she’s had a bad breakup. Like when she has an unused pound of butter in the fridge. Like when it’s Tuesday. 

Fresh baguettes? Oui! Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Yet, hopping the pond to Paris can be cost-prohibitive, time-consuming, and let’s face it, daunting. There’s the jet lag. The language barrier. The almighty Euro.

Artfully-presented pastries at the Atwater Market in Montreal.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Luckily, great baguettes and that certain je ne sais quoi is also supplied by our friendly neighbors to the north: Canada. Montreal is the place to go to get your fix of all things French, less La Tour Eiffel, but with sufficient European-like charm to make up for it.

Fall is a lovely time to visit Montreal. The weather is similar to that of the Upper Midwest in autumn. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

If you have the time, you can drive to Montreal from the states or take Amtrak, which offers service to Montreal. Flying is much faster of course, and the thrifty traveler can find cost savings over a trip to France, where the Euro makes the dollar look like Monopoly money these days.In addition, only about 60% of the population in Montreal speaks French at home, which means it’s easy to find friendly locals who speak English. For those of us who fear traveling to countries where we don’t speak the language, that’s a load off our minds.

Planning to drive in Montreal? You may need to learn a little French first.
Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

Yet to bill Montreal as a poor man’s Paris would be to do the city a tremendous disservice. There is so much to enjoy about this beautiful city that is unique to itself, yet somehow elevated over my everyday Midwestern experience. The food. The architecture. The fine boutiques. The markets. The outdoor cafes.

Make no mistake–Montreal is a modern city, with all the good and bad 
that comes with them.
 But you can still find ample charming alleys where 
artisans display their wares.
 Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The family-friendly Montreal Science Center is located on King Edward Pier
in the Old Port of Montreal. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Locavorism sounds so chic in French! Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Canadians share the European affinity for open air markets, which are plentiful.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Perhaps surprisingly, fire escapes in Montreal are especially beautiful, adding interest
to a simple neighborhood stroll. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
A performer wows the gathering crowd at Place Jacque-Cartier in Montreal.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

The square known as Place Jacque-Cartier, located in Old Montreal, is fringed in European-like charm, including historic buildings, street performers, outdoor cafes and artists sharing their passions.

Montreal City Hall was constructed in the 1870s. It is located in the part 
of the city known as Old Montreal, which is a pleasant place to explore.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Does Montreal satisfy your every whim related to the City of Lights? No. But it does, indeed, scratch the proverbial itch. And the pastries alone may be enough to satisfy you. Best of all, Canadians kind of like us Americans, which is a welcome luxury sometimes.

It’s not quite the Seine, but you can stroll along the Lachine Canal nonetheless and enjoy
its unique beauty all the same. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Consistently recognized as one of the most livable cities in the world, I would add that it is also one of the easiest to visit. There is ample public transportation that’s easy to use, it’s highly walkable, and it’s approachable even for the novice international journey woman. 

Of course, you might want to wait to plan your trip until you’re back on the carbs.

Reconnecting with my joie de vivre. Photo (on timer) by Charish Badzinski.

Where are your favorite places to get a taste of Europe without the plane ticket?

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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
Creative Commons License
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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4 thoughts on “Destination: Montreal, Canada

  1. Thanks, Diane! I totally thought of you when I wrote this post. The new template has a few bugs…but I'm working on it! I truly appreciate the feedback. Of course, the photo of the pastries made me think of the gorgeous food photos you took in France!


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