A day in the life of someone who lives in Montreal — the 'Paris of North America'

mira looking out over st louis square park in montreal
I love living in beautiful Montreal. Mira Miller
  • I live in Montreal an idyllic Canadian city in Quebec known as the Paris of North America.

  • A typical weekend day for me consists of great food, shopping, and catching up with friends.

  • My partner and I often have mellow nights after days full of walking pedestrianized streets.

When you think about a world-class city where most locals speak French, Paris is likely the first place that comes to mind.

But on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Canadian province of Quebec, lies another one-of-a-kind city brimming with French culture, fine dining, art, and history: Montreal.

Plus, unlike Paris — which is one of the most expensive places to live — Montreal has struck an ideal balance between a low cost of living and a high quality of life. According to Mercer's 2024 cost-of-living data, it's one of only eight cities from a list of 226 to pull that off.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a suburb outside Montreal before moving away at 19 for university. After spending seven years in Toronto, I returned to Montreal last summer and have spent the past year rediscovering everything it has to offer.

Here's how I spend a typical summer Sunday in Montreal.

I kick off the beautiful sunny day with a bit of people-watching.

hand holding a mug of matcha latte in a living room
I'm a fan of matcha lattes in the morning.Mira Miller

I'm fortunate enough to live in the historic and vibrant neighborhood of Plateau Mont-Royal.

My large windows look out onto a busy intersection, so I'll typically spend a weekend morning admiring the trees and passersby from my couch.

Depending on the weekend, I usually either make breakfast at home with my partner or go out to one of Montreal's countless brunch restaurants. But today, I'm meeting a friend for a croissant in my favorite nearby park

Montreal has tons of parks, and one of its cutest is steps away from my apartment.

fountain in st louis square park in Montreal on a nice day
Saint Louis Square is a beautiful park. Mira Miller

I head over to Saint Louis Square, a small but beloved urban square and park filled with trees, ample seating, and a Parisian-looking fountain.

There are many parks across the city, but this is one of the cutest and most European-feeling, so I'm glad I live nearby.

The surrounding streets are lined with colorful Victorian houses. Nestled at one end of the park is a small café that sells pastries, ice cream, and beverages throughout the summer.

My friend and I grab fresh pistachio croissants that are still warm.

pistachio croissant sitting on a picnic table outside
There are lots of good croissants in Montreal.Mira Miller

As the croissants melt in our mouths, my friend swears it's one of the best she's ever had.

Eating a fresh, gooey croissant in Montreal is as common as seeing an orange construction cone — one of the less glamorous things we're known for is lots of road construction.

More friends join us for the morning.

woman using a public bike station in montreal
Bixi is our public bike-sharing service. Mira Miller

After we eat, two of my other nearby friends come to meet us. One walked over with a dog she was watching for a friend, and the other took a public bike.

Montreal is one of the most bike-friendly cities in North America. Many of its streets are adorned with bike lanes and Bixi stations (the public bike-sharing service) are affordable and widespread.

The four of us head over to St. Denis, one of the city’s most popular streets.

people milling about st denis street in Montreal on a nice day
St. Denis Street was closed to cars on this Sunday. Mira Miller

Since St. Denis Street was closed off to cars for the weekend for a comic arts festival, we took the opportunity to wander around.

There was plenty of art to look at and all sorts of other goodies on display.

Montreal is beloved for its many street festivals. Walking through our first of the season finally made it feel like summer had arrived.

After grabbing an iced latte, my partner met up with us.

mira and her partner posing for a selfie
My partner also lives in Montreal. Mira Miller

Les Co'Pains d'abord is a boulangerie (bakery) in the neighborhood that serves fresh baguettes and croissants alongside delicious coffee.

The café has become one of my partner's go-to spots for a latte when he's in my neighborhood, so he grabs one before meeting up with us.

We explore the stands and tables full of handmade and boutique items.

people perusing a pottery table outside a local business in montreal
My friend ended up buying a piece of pottery.Mira Miller

This area is filled with stores that are mostly independent and local, so finding unique, handmade goods is easy. It's a great place to shop if you're looking to support small businesses and find something one-of-a-kind.

My friend buys a handmade cup from a pottery shop with a booth in front of its storefront.

Browsing around one of my favorite stores, Paperole, is a must.

art hanging on the wall behind of merchandise tables at paperole in montreal
Paperole is a great place to buy art. Mira Miller

Paperole sells books, accessories, and art made by local Montreal creators.

Since discovering this store, I no longer buy cards at the pharmacy or gifts at major chains. Instead, I try to support local artists — which means my presents have gotten much cuter.

But while we wander the store, all I can think about is how hungry I am.

I pop across the street to a spot I love called Teochew Foodie.

hand holding a container of fried wontons
I grabbed a quick bite at Teochew Foodie.Mira Miller

Nearby, Teochew Foodie is selling dumplings at an outdoor booth. I buy four fried wontons for 4 Canadian dollars.

The dumplings are fresh and delicious, and I munch on them while we walk.

Although food prices are rising across Canada and the United States, Montreal is one of the last major cities where you can still enjoy yourself for a pretty affordable price.

I’m still hungry, so we find more food.

box of focaccia pizza with cheese, figs, and ham
We shared focaccia bread loaded with ingredients. Mira Miller

For lunch, we all share focaccia with spicy capicola, burrata, figs, and honey from a popular restaurant called La Panzeria.

Eating Asian- and Italian-inspired dishes just moments apart is common in Montreal — the city's food scene is one of the most diverse and vibrant in the country.

But we're particularly famous for our French and Quebecois food (you may have heard of poutine).

With our stomachs full, we keep exploring pedestrian streets.

garage sale on duluth street in montreal
There was a fun garage sale on Duluth Street.Mira Miller

Duluth Street is pedestrianized (closed to cars) for the entire summer. Like many surrounding streets, it's packed with restaurants and independent shops.

We wander around a bookshop, admiring the colorful buildings, and briefly browse a garage sale before parting ways with my friends for the day.

My partner and I take the metro to his apartment for the evening.

people waiting for the metro in a station in montreal
The metro is my favorite way to get around the city. Mira Miller

Montreal's metro system is expansive and user-friendly. As a bonus, many of its stations feature public art.

If you live downtown like I do, I think it's the easiest way to get around.

We end the night with dinner from Mandy’s, a popular salad shop.

two bowls of salad on a living room coffee table
Dinner was salads from a popular chain restaurant.Mira Miller

I haven't had a vegetable all day (I usually eat lots, I swear), so we order salads from Mandy's, a fast-casual salad chain.

We end our night with "Modern Family" and a New York Times crossword while chatting about how lucky we feel to live in such a lively and beautiful city.

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