If you want to do as the Montrealers do when in Montreal, you can't miss a visit to our "mountain" Mount Royal Park and neighboring Parc Jeanne-Mance (pictured here). The mountain has a special place in the heart of all Montrealers, and not just because it was designed by Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmsted. I will never forget seeing the normally white cross at its peak -this city's quintessential symbol if it ever had one- turn a deep crimson on the day Pope John Paul II died. All my life, I had heard that the cross changed color on the occasion of a pope's death but had never really known if it was anything more than urban legend. Before my eyes, this legend became truth!
But you don't have to wait for the next sede vacante to appreciate our venerable hill. In fairer months, its gentle rise makes for a beautiful stroll. When you reach the top, you are rewarded with stunning views of our skyline from Kondiaronk Belvedere (as well as ice cream from the snack shop). In the wintertime, you can rent skates, cross-country skis, snowshoes or inner tubes to satisfy your snow-loving inner child (or your actual children!). Afterward, you may have to stand in line for hot chocolate at the Beaver Lake chalet, but cupping your frozen hands around that sweet, steaming warmth will make the wait worthwhile. Parole d'une Montréalaise (you have this Montrealer's word).