Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Bi-Lingual and Multi-Faceted

Iyna Bort Caruso

If a city can be defined by culture, Montréal, Quebec is it.

Montréal is Canada’s second largest city, but it’s arguably the country’s preeminent destination for cultural attractions and Canada's luxury real estate market. An art-infused Euro heritage lends it international grace. For the creative force behind a cultural landscape of architecture, urban planning, public spaces and monuments, UNESCO designated it a “City of Design.”

Few places meld culture with commerce as successfully as this cosmopolitan French-Canadian island in the St. Lawrence River. Montréal lays claim to 50 historical sites and the impressive 19th century headquarters of Canada’s major banks are among them.

As a business hub, finance, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, design, tourism and film top a list of industries that drive the city’s economic engine. Yet amid skyscrapers are the cobblestone streets and historic homes and architecture of Vieux-Montreal, the city’s birthplace. At its southern border is the waterfront promenade of Vieux-Port, or Old Port, featuring Mount Royal Park as a backdrop. The park is the city’s four-season playground laid out by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who famously designed New York’s Central Park.

This is a cityscape that’s multi-faceted--and multi-layered. Literally. It extends from the high point of Mount Royal to a vast climate-controlled underground “city” of stores and restaurants, accessible from most downtown buildings.

A tapestry of neighborhoods within 19 boroughs or arrondissements, are influenced by dozens of ethnicities, well beyond the obvious French connection. Together, they offer an astonishing array of diversity in the housing market.  

There’s a residence for every luxury lifestyle, ranging from park-side luxury condominiums and exuberantly painted townhouses to lofts that retain the original brick walls and wooden rafters. Suburbia is just 15 minutes from downtown Montréal.

The Plateau neighborhood is artist-filled and pedestrian-friendly. Posh Outremont, a Francophone enclave of grand homes and groomed parks, has a strong European feel. The Golden Square Mile at the foot of Mount Royal is where wealthy merchants and industrialists built their baronial mansions at the turn of the 20th century and where some of these gems still remain.  The elegant community of Westmount is a showcase of British architecture--despite Montréal’s French provenance--marked by stone mansions, mansard-roof townhomes and Queen Anne-style brick estates.

Montréal consistently hits the mark on quality-of-life issues, making it an exhilarating place to live. Savoir vivre is the Montréaler art of knowing how to live well.