The Underground City
Many people come to Montreal to shop in its wide range of international
boutiques, and Canada's low dollar makes it especially attractive for
Americans to shop here. The most famous aspect of shopping in Montreal
is the Underground City. Constantly growing, the "city" - which
links many major buildings and multi-level shopping malls in the area
- is a shopper's paradise in any season. One major section is reached
via Peel and McGill metro stations on the green line, and another via
Bonaventure station on the orange line. East of McGill station is a growing
axis from Place-des-Arts metro down through Complexe Desjardins and beyond.
Safe and sheltered from the elements, the Underground City offers a huge
range of goods and services as well as a handy way to get from place to
place without weather or traffic problems
Plateau Mont Royal
The lookout on top of Mount Royal is an excellent goal for an urban walk.
It's in Mount Royal Park, laid out long ago by Frederick Law Olmsted,
best known for landscaping New York's Central Park. From the beautifully
appointed lookout terrace, downtown Montreal is at your feet, with a view
to the river and beyond to the Monteregian Hills. Sight lines to landmarks
are marked. The chalet by the lookout is open in the daytime with bathrooms
and snack machines. There's no restaurant or café in the park but,
in season, you can picnic - and don't forget you're never more than a
few minutes from downtown Montreal and its many restaurants. The top of
Mount Royal is divided between the park and two large cemeteries, the
Catholic Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery and the nondenominational Mount
Royal cemetery. Both can be interesting walks for those of gothic tastes
and together they form a necropolis among the largest in the world.
The Quartier Latin is the Paris-style student district along lower Rue
St Denis, with the Université du Québec à Montréal
(UQAM) at its heart. Here you'll find row upon row of trendy bars, open-air
cafés, bistros and clubs - and more of Montréal's beautiful
people than you could poke a mirror at. Just to the east of the Latin
Quarter is the hub of the gay community, The Village, which centres around
Rue Ste Catherine Est. Among the bars, clubs and cafés is a slightly
rougher edge and 'anything goes' attitude, especially during the Gay Pride
Festival in early August when things get decidedly outrageous.
Stroll east of downtown and you'll enter the thriving community of Chinatown.
Throughout the year the neighbourhood celebrates traditional festivals
and holidays, but even on a regular workday you'll find all kinds of wonders
in Chinatown. The best way to visit is on foot, so you can stop by all
of the interesting shops selling medicinal herbs, exotic foods and porcelain.
Wander the pedestrian-only rue La Gauchetière, and be sure to stop
by the Chinese markets along rue St-Laurent for unique gifts and fun souvenirs.
In this city founded on cultural diversity, it's little wonder that Montréal
is home to one of the largest and most extroverted gay communities in
the world. Although the village caters to gay and lesbian patrons, you'll
find folks from all walks of life frequenting the many bars, bistros and
shops of this dynamic neighbourhood.
The Montreal Casino
The Casino de Montréal is a 24/7 extravaganza of gambling, food
and drink. Built inside the pavilions of France and Quebec from Expo '67,
it's a multi-level experience of roaring, tinkling fun. Bring money.
Vieux-Montréal - Old Montréal
Montréal was founded in 1642 and its rich history can be traced
by a visit to the oldest part of town. Situated on the St. Lawrence River,
this area is focused around the Old Port (Vieux Port) where Montréal
was originally established. At one time a wall surrounded this area of
Montréal, days when explorers and fur traders came and went and
the social and political future of Canada was yet to be decided. Today,
museums, interesting buildings, shops, and cafés line the streets
making it a must-see on a trip to Montréal.
Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica has nothing in common with Paris's except
the name. It's a neogothic building dating from 1829, constructed on the
site of a much older and smaller church which had been outgrown by its
parishioners. Notre Dame is noted for its lavish and beautiful interior
- stained glass windows, paintings, statues, gold-tipped polychrome carvings,
rich altarpiece. It also has a notable Casavant organ and its largest
bell, le Gros Bourdon, is the biggest on the continent.
Notre-Dame shares Place d'Armes with the Vieux Séminaire, dating
from 1683, the elegant deco Aldred Building (1931), the red sandstone
New York Life building (1888) - Montreal's first skyscraper - the Bank
of Montreal building, and the central monument to de Maisonneuve, founder
of the original settlement of Ville-Marie.
The Vieux-Port and Parc des Îles
The Vieux-Port (Old Port) stretches for 2.5km (1.5mi) along the river
and consists of four quays: the Vieux-Port Promenade and Esplanade, a
favourite strolling spot for Montréal's inhabitants; the Quai de
l'Horloge, with its eponymous tower dedicated to sailors; and the Quai
Jacques-Cartier. From the latter, a ferry runs to the Parc des Îles,
the park created on the two islands that were the site of the 1967 World's
Fair. Île Sainte-Hélène now boasts Québec's
largest amusement park, and Île Notre-Dame is an artificial island
created for the fair in the middle of the river. The Biosphere on Île
Saint-Hélène offers a fantastic journey through the Saint
This giant geodesic dome was designed by architect Buckminster Fuller
and was the American Pavilion for Montréal's world exposition in
1967. Today it exists as an environmental education facility and its otherworldly
structure remains an important feature of the Montréal cityscape.
The Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium was built for Montreal's 1976 Olympics and is still
currently used by baseball's National League's Expos and for all kinds
of other shows throughout the year. An elevator ascends the world's tallest
inclined tower to a lookout on top; tickets are for sale at the base.
The stadium is one of Montreal's most curious pieces of architecture and
is accompanied by the Biodome (a building originally used for cycle racing
during the Games). Across Sherbrooke Street is the Botanical Garden (best
in summertime, but with large greenhouses worth a visit any time of year)
and the Insectarium. Across Pie-IX is Château Dufresne, a grand
mansion sometimes used for art exhibits.
Step into a trattoria along lively Dante Street and you're suddenly
transported to the Old Country. Montréal's bustling Little Italy
is lined with exceptional restaurants, cafes and shops along Blvd. St.
Laurent. The Jean Talon Market is a must see, with shelves full of remarkable
Québec cheeses, vegetable and fruit stands, and specialty shops
offering local wines, ciders, and pâtés. But Little Italy
is very much a neighbourhood. Apartments sit above the street level shops,
the manicured Parc Martel is full of locals on Saturdays, and well-dressed
parishioners attend the revered Madonna della Defesa church on Sundays.
Montréal's oldest park is also it's most European. The
park reflects the city's combination of both French and English cultures.
Half the park is landscaped in the manicured French-style and the other
half is landscapes is in the more informal tamed wilderness of the English-style.
Named in 2000 in honour of the long running mayor of Montréal who
oversaw the formation of this world-renowned park, it attracts millions
of visitors each year. Encompassing Ile-Notre-Dame and Ile-Sainte-Helene,
it offers a wide variety of activities and events. Previous visitors know
it as the Parc des Îles, and some of the islands' land is actually
landfill from the soil excavated when building the Montreal Métro
system from 1963-67. Now it's one of Montréal's most entertaining
parks. Attractions: La Ronde, Fort Ile-Sainte-Helene, the Floralies Gardens,
the Biosphere, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Montreal Casino, the
Olympic Basin and the famous Helene de Champlain Restaurant.
With 107 hectares (65,000 sq metres), Parc Angrignon is one of the largest
Montréal parks. Wander through its stunning landscape that was
refurbished in 2000 to enhance the park's natural characteristics including
the 1.1 km lake with a centre island that's a favourite for summing ducks.
Designed in the style of grand English parks, you can take a break from
the hustle and bustle of the city making it a favourite among Montréalers
and visitors alike.