Forget fighting crowds in Paris this summer. My charming Canadian city has plenty of museums, baguettes, and francophones.

people walking down a street in old montreal
Montreal is a city in Quebec, Canada. Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock

Paris may be on your travel bucket list, but it's bound to be packed with tourists as the 2024 Summer Olympics unfold in the City of Lights in July.

Fortunately, there's another option if you don't want to spend your whole trip waiting in long lines and paying surge prices on the metro.

Montreal — the second-largest city in Canada — features much of the European charm you'll find in Paris from its long history of French influence.

The city comes alive in the summertime after suffering through freezing-cold winters. Its residents, suddenly full of "joie de vivre," take full advantage of the plentiful parks, pedestrian-only streets, festivals, and patios.

It's also the city I'm lucky to call home, so here are eight reasons you should travel to Montreal instead of Paris this summer.

If you’re looking for a historic, European feel, you’ll find it in Old Montreal.

people milling about on a pedestrian street in Montreal
The city has several pedestrian-only streets.Mira Miller

Lined with cobblestone streets and historic brick architecture, the Old Montreal section of the city feels like you're walking through 18th-century Paris.

Quebec, the province Montreal is located in, is a unique corner of Canada where the majority of locals speak French or some version of what we call Franglais (a combination of French and English). Because of this, most of the street signs and banners in Old Montreal are in French.

It's certainly one of the most touristy parts of the city — but for good reason. The area is home to some of the best restaurants, art galleries, shops, cafés, and bars.

The historic district also runs along the St. Laurence River.

view of the boardwalk in montreal with boats in the water and the ferris wheel in the distance
There are stunning waterfront views.Mira Miller

Strolling along the beautiful boardwalk on the St. Laurence River, you'll find a marina filled with boats, a selection of food trucks, the longest urban zipline in Canada, and a Ferris wheel.

There's also the Montreal Science Centre, a science museum sure to delight all ages.

Forget Notre-Dame in Paris — Montreal has its own.

upward shot of Notre dame church in montreal
There's a famous Notre-Dame in Montreal, too.Mira Miller

Just like Paris, we have plenty of historic cathedrals to admire, including a particularly spectacular one named Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal.

Although undoubtedly more famous, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is still under construction after a fire in 2019, so if you went to Europe, you wouldn't be able to go inside it anyway.

If museums are what you’re after, Montreal also has plenty of those.

pointe a calliere museum in montreal
The Pointe-à-Callière Museum is in Old Montreal. Mira Miller

Whether you're interested in art, history, archeology, or science, Montreal has a host of acclaimed museums that can satisfy your thirst for knowledge.

Some of its best include the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Biodome, and the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

The latter is a history museum in Old Montreal that features many exhibitions about the people who founded the city in 1642.

Montreal can easily satisfy your craving for a croissant or a baguette.

shelves of fresh bread in a cafe in montreal
I can get fresh bread every day.Mira Miller

One of the best parts of visiting Paris is eating wonderful French pastries and treats, like croissants and fresh baguettes.

Luckily, my city is filled to the brim with adorable, independent cafés that claim to sell the best baked goods in the city.

If you visit, you'll find that choosing the best isn't an easy task because many of them really are that good.

You’ll find plenty of foodies dining al fresco.

row of restaurants with outdoor seating in montreal
I love eating outside in the summer.Mira Miller

As soon as the weather is remotely tolerable, Montrealers emerge outdoors, eager to soak up the sun.

Like Paris' famous outdoor cafés, our patios (called terrasses) appear on the streets and sidewalks almost overnight.

Residents eagerly fill them, drinking wine or beer and eating foods inspired by cuisines all over the world.

Like Paris, Montreal is also one of the world’s fashion capitals.

trendy vintage store in montreal
The vintage stores in Montreal are top-tier.Mira Miller

The city is known for its particularly well-dressed dwellers, with many residents sporting unique looks that are artistic, vintage, and high-fashion.

That's partly thanks to the many boutiques scattered throughout Montreal. Whether you're looking for something secondhand or locally made, you're sure to find it.

There's no shortage of greenspaces and public seating options.

tamtam festival happening on mount royal in montreal
The Tam-Tams festival is a summer staple. Mira Miller

As many North American cities adopt "hostile architecture" that discourages gathering in public spaces, Montreal has parks filled with benches for sitting and reading. There are also plenty of grassy, shaded areas for Parisian-style picnics.

And we can't forget Mount Royal — the mountain for which the city is named. Located just west of downtown, the massive mountain is home to a large park, historic monuments, a lake, a lookout with a stunning view of the city skyline, and walking trails.

On Sundays, locals and visitors gather on the eastern slope for Tam-Tams, a weekly summer festival where people play hand drums.

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