Montreal was founded in 1642, when French missionaries founded a mission along the St. Lawrence River. Traders soon followed, establishing a port and building the foundations for a city based on refined French traditions. The modern center of Montreal has moved away from the river port, Vieux Montréal (Old Montreal) -- with narrow cobbled streets leading to graceful squares, centered on the Basilica of Notre Dame with its gleaming gold and blue interior -- but it’s still the heart of the city. However, Montreal is hardly antique -- the city pulses with nightlife and music, and in summer it’s festival season: jazz, fireworks, world films and comedy are just a few of Montreal’s festivals.
The second-largest French-speaking city in the world,Montreal carries on the European tradition of keepingculture within the reach of the people. Most of the city'smany festivals include free admission for open-airevents that keep the streets filled with music, laughterand creativity.
Every summer for 11 days, Montreal hosts the world'slargest jazz festival, with 400 concerts and the biggeststars of the international jazz community.
The Just For Laughs Comedy Festival began as atwo-night French-language comedy show and hasgrown to an event that lasts almost two weeks anddraws more than 470,000 people.
It's always a festive occasion when the traveling circustroupe Cirque du Soleil returns home to Montreal withits mesmerizing crew of fire eaters, jugglers, acrobats,clowns and artists.
But Montreal itself is a festival for all the senses. Thereare great restaurants varying from old world cuisine tostoried delis and rib shacks. The nightlife is legendary.And a short walk out of a bustling downtown takesvisitors back in time to the cobblestoned streets,churches and centuries-old buildings of Old Montreal.