Swap Paris for Montreal
Paris is framed as the most romantic place on earth, and although we had a fantastic time there as a family, the expense shocked us. Coffee was around $8, and a $10 orange juice almost choked me. We loved the delicious French food (steak frites was a favorite), but many times it took far too long to get to the table, which meant our hungry child got super grouchy.
Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and it’s primarily French-speaking, which makes it a perfect substitute for Paris. Your kids will learn that there are places where people speak other languages and use different money. It enables you to have a beautiful foreign experience close to home.
Downtown and Old Montreal nudge each other and are both great places to stay. Old Montreal is surreal but exciting—it feels like you’ve woken up in a French colonial settlement. This was once a tiny colony, and you can find out more about the city’s history at the Pointe-A-Calliere archaeology museum, built on the spot where the city was founded. Nearby is both the Science Centre, which is perfect for children, and the Museum of Fine Arts, which offer discounts on entry if you look online.
La Ronde in the center of town is a lovely park for picnics and kicking a ball about, but for a more intense eco-experience, head to the stunning Botanic Gardens or the Montreal Biodome, in the Maisonneuve neighborhood. The 1976 Summer Olympics were held here, and you can still tour the main stadium and tower.
You can’t miss the Mont-Royal mountain in the middle of the city, which is how Montreal gets its name. A visit to this 764-foot high peak is the perfect place to hike, ride, and enjoy some fresh air. Mounted police patrol here, and kids can meet the horses at the police stables.
In the summer, top your trip off with spectacular fireworks; the international fireworks competition runs every Saturday night throughout the summer in La Ronde. You can buy tickets, but they’re pricey. So, if you head to the Old Port, you can watch the displays from afar for free.
Montreal is an amazing way to experience France. Teach your kids a handful of French words and encourage them to use them.
Jump from Paris to Pisa. Head to the Tour de Montreal, the tower attached to the Olympic stadium. At 574 feet, it is the tallest leaning tower in the world. Take the funicular to the observation deck and enjoy the best views in Montreal.