1Discover and get to know Montreal

If you’ve already found out a bit about Montreal, you may know that it is built upon Mount Royal, which is how the city got its name. Bordered by the St. Lawrence River, you have to be mindful when choosing your location: the island of Montreal is huge (nearly 500 km²) and made up of many smaller boroughs, so you can end up living quite far from the city centre.

Saint Laurent Boulevard is important: it symbolically cuts the city from east to west; the east being traditionally French-speaking, the west traditionally English-speaking. Montreal is the largest French-speaking city after Paris, France.

Montreal is built grid-style, a characteristic of many North American cities. Sherbrooke Street, Saint Denis Street and Sainte-Catherine Street are among the most iconic streets that make up the city.

The Montreal skyline is made up of skyscrapers typical of a large city, but if you look more closely, you will also notice many churches and places of worship. Montreal is now a diverse mix of cultures, with a growing presence of Arabic, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and Jewish communities.

Facts about Montreal

  • It was founded in 1642
  • It has more than four million inhabitants (as of 2024)
  • It has a surface area of 431.5 km² (three times that of Paris)
  • It is the second largest metropolis in Canada, after Toronto, ON
  • It is the the largest city in the province of Quebec
  • The majority of people (around 70%) speak French as their first language
  • It averages temperatures of -10°C in winter and 20°C in summer.

The people and the atmosphere

Montreal is a major destination for people immigrating to Canada. The Montreal population is diverse and offers a great mix of cultures, representing many different countries.

You will find a lot of French people, IEC permit holders and expatriates (obviously!), but also young English-speaking Americans or Canadians who have come to study in one of the city’s two English-speaking universities, plus families from all over the world.

Montreal is the largest city in Quebec, which is officially a French-speaking province. The everyday language will be French, even if you’ll find a lot of bilingual people who speak English.

Montreal remains a “relaxed” city, where life is family-friendly. Montreal offers an incomparable number of entertainment and leisure activities. The city comes alive during the summertime, where dozens of internationally renowned festivals take place.

Even in winter, the city is always bustling. Locals love to go ice skating in the public parks or snowshoeing on Mount Royal. The bars and nightclubs stay busy year-round.


Is Montreal safe?

Montreal is known for being a safe city, where there are few incidents of violence. It is one of the safest cities in North America. Of course, attacks still exist, but they are rarely extremely violent (according to statistics). Montreal North is one of the most disadvantaged parts of the city, where the rate of incidents may be slightly higher.

Overall, you can feel safe coming home late at night, even as a solo traveller. Everyday attacks such as street harassment are almost non-existent compared to what you may be used to coming from other countries, even if the problem seems to be increasing in intensity in Montreal.

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I'm originally from Buckinghamshire, UK and love to travel. I've previously completed WHVs in New Zealand and Australia. In 2024, I am embarking on a new adventure to start my Canadian WHV!

Je suis originaire de Buckinghamshire, Royaume-Uni, et j’adore voyager. J’ai déjà complété un PVT en Nouvelle-Zélande et en Australie. En 2024, je pars pour une nouvelle aventure au Canada en PVT!

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