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Travel Basics – Canadian Grand Prix

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Useful travel information to help you start planning your trip to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. The next race takes place on June 9-11, 2017.

Canada, the second largest country in the world by total area, has a population of 35 million. It shares an 8891km land border with the United States to the South, the world’s longest. Ninety percent of Canadians live within 100km of this border.  Much of the rest of the country is sparsely populated and is home to many national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

With a population of approx 4 million, Montreal is the 2nd largest Canadian city after Toronto. Located in the province of Quebec, the city is situated on Montreal Island where the St Lawrence and Ottowa rivers meet. Montreal is a cosmopolitan F1 destination with a very European vibe. French is the official language of the city, the second largest French speaking city in the world after Paris. The city regularly scores highly in rankings of the most liveable cities in the world and is famed for its cool architecture, abundance of green spaces for outdoor pursuits, and vibrant dining and nightlife scenes.

Visa Requirements

Canada provides visa-free entry (for up to 6 months) to citizens from 51 countries, including all member states of the European Union, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. If you don’t come from one of the visa-free countries, you will need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada – in some cases this can be applied for online. Click here to find out if you need a visa, as well as how to apply and other entry requirements.

Travel to Montreal: need to know

  • Health: Montreal is a first world city with an effective local healthcare system. If you are visiting the city for the Grand Prix, ensure you have adequate travel insurance organized before you travel as tourists are required to pay for medical care.
  • Time: Montreal is 4 hours behind GMT during June when the Grand Prix is held, the same timezone as New York and the Eastern seaboard of the USA.
  • Electric sockets in Canada are the same as in the USA
  • Dial 911 for emergencies (Police, Fire, Ambulance)

Safety

For a large city, Montreal is remarkably safe; violent crime is rare, and it’s generally fine to walk around the city at night. All the best restaurants, bars and clubs are located in ‘safe’ areas where, ironically, you will also find the ‘seedier’ elements of the city such as the Latin Quarter and the Red Light District. Police are proactive and locals tend to be respectful of others. That said, it pays to be vigilant in any large city and petty crime does occur. If you are parking in the city, choose an underground parking garage rather than leaving your car on the street.

Language & Culture

French is the official language of Montreal, but English is widely spoken and many locals are bilingual. The city is very multicultural; 30% of residents were born outside Canada. Montreal’s festival scene is world-famous. During the summer months, the city hosts events such as the  Montreal Jazz Festival and the Fringe Festival. Montreal staged the 1976 Summer Olympics and has a rich sporting pedigree with by far the most popular sport in the city being ice hockey.

Climate

The weather in Montreal in June is generally warm, with an average daytime maximum temperature of around 24ºC (75ºF) and nightly minimum averaging 11ºC (52ºF). When packing for a Grand Prix weekend in the city, bring along summer clothes such as t-shirts and shorts, but also be sure to throw in long pants, jumpers and a light jacket as it can get chilly at night. Don’t forget your wet weather gear and umbrella; rain falls on around 20-30% of June days in Montreal.

Money

  • The official currency is the Canadian dollar ($CAD), which has fallen in value in recent years against the $USD, making a trip north a more attractive proposition for US fans. The new Canadian polymer banknotes are available in brightly coloured denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills – much easier to work out for the first-time visitor than the greenbacks over the border in the USA.
  • You won’t need to bring lots of cash to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix – credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs can be found all over the city. If you do wish to change foreign currency, kiosk exchanges are also easy to find in Montreal.
  • If you have ever been to the USA, then you can apply the same rules when it comes to tipping in Canada, where the culture is similar. A tip of around 10-20% is expected when you take a taxi, eat in a restaurant or drink at a bar.  If you are staying in a hotel, be ready with coins or small notes – many service staff in the hotel will be expecting small tips of $2-5 each time they assist you.
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