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The Montreal Experience and How to Get It


September 1, 2006
By Pulp & Paper Canada

If you’re someone who thinks the rush towards “globalization” has created an awful lot of “same-old same-old” in the world, you’ll be heartened by a recent story in Gourmet magazine. In it, journalist…

If you’re someone who thinks the rush towards “globalization” has created an awful lot of “same-old same-old” in the world, you’ll be heartened by a recent story in Gourmet magazine. In it, journalists Jane and Michael Stern noted that the “onslaught of soulless fast food has been balanced by a resurgence of regional food” and applauded “a new generation who sustain what is now appreciated as local culture.”

Something similar may be happening in the travel industry generally — at least in Montral. Here, in one of the world’s most popular cities, there’s a whole new concept in touring called “The Montral Experience.” Created by two of the city’s most reputable and long-established hospitality companies, Guidatour and Visites de Montral DMC (in co-operation with Tourisme Montral), 54 (count ’em) customized packages offer visitors authentic Montral-style experiences. That is to say, a true and personal taste of Montral’s unique local culture.

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Based on the realization that the days when tourists were happy to be led around in herds listening to standardized commentary are long gone, the Montral Experience itineraries are designed for small groups with specific interests and/or expertise.

It’s all part of the “learning travel” phenomenon that appeared a few years ago. A large (and growing) number of people started to want to see specific things and places, meet interesting local people, and get a feeling of what goes on behind the scenes, what makes this particular city tick. That’s exactly what the “Montral Experience” idea offers.

The 54 different tours are divided into nine main theme areas. Culinary Pleasures (so far the most popular category, thanks to Montral’s renown as a gourmet paradise). Historically Speaking. Art Treasures. Shopping Galore. Architectural Contrasts. Religious Heritage. All About Water. Parks, Gardens and Greenery. Multicultural Life.

Within each thematic area, six different “experiences” are offered one full-day tour and five-half day itineraries. Each one is hosted by a hand-picked guide who really knows the topic at hand — a specialist in that field — who usually becomes “part” of the group.

Montral Experience tours are designed for groups of about ten people and can be personalized on request — one recent group, for example, was celebrating a member’s 40th birthday! And the costs range from $50 to $250 per person.

Within each of the nine Montral Experience theme areas, there are five half-day tours, each offering a unique glimpse into Montral life. A group of “foodies,” for instance, can realize their dream of tapping into the secrets of a world-class chef. Roll up your sleeves and work alongside him as he creates a seasonal dish especially for you!

For a group of “shopaholics,” how about this? Start satisfying your cravings in downtown Montral’s shopping mecca — from high-end, to funky, to cutting-edge. No matter what your taste, you’re bound to find something to die for!

For architecture buffs, how about a half-day in the cityscape that dazzles with architectural brilliance — and the occasional clinker!

OK, you get the idea. Guided tours with a particular focus for people with particular interests highlighting a particular aspect of Montral’s unique urban culture. And even though there are already over 50 different itineraries available, more are on the horizon — especially in the ultra-popular culinary area. As Christiane Gingras says, “I am still developing new relationships with new suppliers in order to offer more and better!”

Source: Tourisme Montral


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