For most North Americans, Montreal feels like a familiar trip to Europe. The city is attractive and the French influence is impossible to miss.
Montreal can feel cheap when the Canadian dollar is weak against the US dollar, but when they are near the same then this city compares with most large US cities for most things. Fortunately, the city can be experienced on nearly any budget, as low-cost food and drinks are available to those who look for them, especially at some of the authentic ethnic restaurants mostly serving locals.
There are plenty of free and cheap attractions, including walking through the wonderful Old City, and most of the main highlights are relatively affordable as well.