Money & costs
A tip of 15% of the pretax bill is customary in restaurants. Some waiters may add a service charge for large parties; in these cases, no tip should be added unless the service was extraordinary. Leave the tip on the table or hand it directly to staff.
Montréal is Canada's second economic center after Toronto - growth has been above the national average, reaching 3% to 4% in the past few years. Montrealers who recall the 1990s recession are pinching themselves to wake up, but the new prosperity is very real. You can see it in the many new boutique hotels, the glam shops along rue Ste-Catherine and the number of affluent people under 30 buying condos.
Every upswing, of course, has a downside: real-estate prices and rents have soared, and the Plateau has become so expensive that many residents can't afford to buy their own homes. Finding a place to rent is devilishly difficult; the vacancy rate is ridiculously low in popular districts like the Plateau. All the same, living costs are very reasonable compared to other big cities. You can still rent a two-bedroom apartment for around $800 per month, cheap compared to New York City or London.
Montréal accounts for almost two-thirds of the province's income, and big-ticket manufacturers include defense, aerospace, telecommunications and information technology. With its four universities Montréal is the biggest center of academic research in Canada. The city has also blossomed in the new media and related services for the movie industry - Hollywood shoots alone earn Montréal about $1 billion every year. There's also a large financial sector, a screen-based stock exchange and a bevy of international banks in the downtown skyscrapers. The Old Port and docking facilities on the St Lawrence Seaway make Montréal an important transport center.
Québec's high taxes put the city at a competitive disadvantage though, and salaries tend to lag behind those in Toronto or the USA. At the same time the abundance of relatively cheap, qualified personnel increasingly makes Montréal a lucrative place to do business.
American Express (284-3300, 800-668-2639; 1141 boul de Maisonneuve; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri; Peel)
Thomas Cook (284-7388; Centre Eaton, 705 rue Ste-Catherine Ouest)
Transchange International (694-6906; 43 rue de Baude)
American Express 800-528-4800
Diner's Club 800-234-6377