Hôtel de Ville

Historic Building in Old Montréal

Image by Danita Delimont Getty Images

Montréal’s handsome City Hall was built between 1872 and 1878, then rebuilt after a fire in 1926. Far from being a humdrum administrative center, it’s actually steeped in local lore. Most famously, it’s where French leader Charles de Gaulle took to the balcony in 1967 and yelled to the crowds outside ‘Vive le Québec libre!’ (‘Long live free Québec!’). Those four words fueled the fires of Québécois separatism and strained relations with Ottawa for years.

Peer into the Great Hall of Honor for some scenes of rural Québec and busts of Jacques Viger, the first French-speaking mayor (1833–36), and Peter McGill, the first English-speaking mayor (1840–42).