The central area of Montreal shows a perfect combination between historic and modern buildings. If I had to choose a place to live in North America, I think this would be my first choice.
Harmony, quality of life, safety, and a natural blending of races and cultures, attracted me.
Was it a wrong idea, caused by the rushing visit? Maybe! And, of course, I know that I was there in summer, winter being another thing, but the solution of using the subterranean resources may help.
Living under the ground is a spreading resource in the congested modern cities, but nowhere I found such an effective solution as in Montreal.
The numbers that the guide announced as the length of subterranean roads, parks and shops, are smashing. And we could confirm for ourselves the good integration between the road system, the metro, and the big buildings that, despite their elevation, start living from several floors below ground level, with responses to all the commercial needs. Wise solution!
Modern Montreal in the middle of the city is the same as most modern cities. Still worth a walk though wander amongst the usual hustle and bustle and shop. Discover the city down under the city in the underground malls and walkways and eat at the many restaurants and city cafes. Montreal is a city with character, pzazz and charm. With french accents and friendliness. I really enjoyed my time there.
Downtown is the heart of Montréal & one of the most vibrant, cosmopolitan areas of the city. Nestled at the feet of postmodern towers, well matched with the surrounding gracious Victorian architecture, a number of the city’s most splendid buildings & churches call out to be explored. Countless art and theme museums and charming green spaces dot the area. Fabulous shopping is only footsteps away in the Museum Quarter and aficionados of electrifying nightlife will find their hearts’ desire on Crescent Street. Throughout the year, and particularly in summertime, downtown resonates with captivating festivals that draw out the spontaneity of Montrealers and visitors alike.
Great place to skate without the freezing weather! Ice-skating downtown year-round! The Atrium le 1000 ice rink is located in the tallest building in downtown Montreal, the "1000" building. It has a glass dome above the rink for natural sunlight and has a good-sized rink (10,000 square ft) for beginners and anyone who likes to skate! You can rent skates, or bring your own! There is also a food court nearby to eat and relax while watching the skaters.
Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and $5 for kids. Special family rate is $19.50, and there are other special rates for groups of 15 or more.
Wonderful fun for everyone!!!
I had heard about the underground city in Montréal and always wanted to see it. It lies parallel to the main shopping street in down-town Montréal, St. Catherine's Street, with a mindblowing 120 entrances, f.ex. from several stores and shopping malls in St. Catherine's Street.
Now, the underground city is made in that way that you can take the metro close to your home and can exit the metro in the underground city as there are 7 metro stations there and a bus terminal. This is so hard to imagine but must come in very handy during the very cold winters in Canada.
The underground city has over 32 km of tunnels with shops and restaurants and connections to the shopping malls in St. Catherine's street - making it the largest underground complex in the world so it is well worth a visit.
Montréal is often called "The Double-Decker city" - now we know why.
The main shopping street in down-town Montréal is Rue Saint-Catherine with its myriad of shops and cafés and churches. It is 11,5 km long so you can imagine that there is a lot going on in this street. And it also lies parallel to the underground city which can be reached from this street (see my next tip)
I have only been there twice, once only with the purpose of shopping - and I will be back there again. It has got a pure cosmopolitan feel to it, truly buzzing with life.
I just came back from a 4 week trip to Montreal to improve my French. I did a lot of research before I went and ended up booking with www.frenchinmontreal.com. What convinced me is that they partner with YMCA, because YMCA has such a good reputation.
I did a intense French course for 6 hours a day at the YMCA language school downtown. I liked that my class had only 10 students. This way I got to learn a lot. Also they offer 6 levels of French, which was good because I spoke some French already. I stayed with a host family. Being in a family was great, because they showed me around and I got the chance to practice my French with them. Being at the YMCA was also good because a fitness membership was included and I met many people that way.
I shopped around for a while to get the best deal. I paid C$ 874 for the French course and C$616 for the accomodation in the family. If you are looking for a good French school in Montreal, I can definitely recommend www.frenchinmontreal.com.
Montréal is a city that should be explored not only for its vibrant nightlife, its bicultural flavour and its numerous cultural institutions, but also because the city has benefited greatly for a unique and interesting architectural heritage. The part of the downtown area to the west of Place d'Armes was developed through the latter half of the 19th century, when the influx of business and commercial caused by the construction of canals helped to turn Montréal into a leading mercantile and financial centre. Many of the building along St. Jacques Street were constructed for banking and insurance firms, and their grandiose neo-Classical architecture is characteristic of the desire to exude wealth and influence that pervaded the city's financial élite. These buildings are further complimented by the obvious French modernist influences between the Place d'Armes and the Palais des Congrès, an section of the city that hosts numerous high-end hotels and residences. A Sunday morning stroll through these streets, especially on a sunny, warm day is well-advised, especially for those who like to get a feel of the city's history from its architecture.
Perhaps the one institution of Montréal that is best known around the world is McGill University. One of the city's two anglophone universities (the other is Concordia), McGill is the oldest institutions of higher learning in Canada and is probably far better known that the University of Toronto in Europe (but not in Asia, where U of T holds the advantage). McGill was founded in 1821 and was originally a private institution (it was founded when the Province was still known as Lower Canada), but then became a public institution, as are most universities in Canada. The university is unique because of its law school's policy of passive bilingualism (although students learn in English, they are expected to become capable of working in French by the end of a four-year degree) and the fact that, although courses may be taught in one language or the other, work may be submitted in the language of the student's choice. The buildings at McGill's main campus (located at the foot of Mont Royal) are typical of British neo-Classical and neo-Gothic structures from the beginning and middle of the 19th century. The campus is a typical urban intellectual oasis - that is, in the midst of the skyscrapers of the downtown core, McGill has managed to maintain a quiet and verdant area in which the focus is on learning and student life, rather than the hectic pace of the city.
The Golden Square Mile is a section of Downtown Montréal that is known for its eclectic mix of architectural styles and notable residents. This area was built up once English commercial and political dominance was at its height in the city, and as a result the Golden Square Mile resembles sections of Boston or Toronto much more than Vieux-Montréal. Many of the buildings were constructed in the pre-war period of the 20th century, which explains the presence of some beautiful Art Deco and Modernist structures side-by-side with the neo-Classical and neo-Gothic buildings of the late 19th century. In addition to the neo-Classical Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, you will find the Art Deco Holt Renfrew flagship store along Sherbrooke. Apart from the Quartier du musée (where the various pavilions of the Fine Arts Museum can be found) much of the rest of the Golden Square Mile is occupied by high-end shops and restaurants, although there are also some mid-range ones that have moved in as well. The gradual exodus of Canada's business élite from Montréal has meant that this section of the city no longer wields the same influence that it once did, but it is an impressive reminder of the way in which Montréal was once one of the premiere cities of the British Empire.
The Place des Arts is so named because it houses several different cultural installations as well as the large UQAM (Université de Québec à Montréal) building. The square is also a prime spot for the festivities of the world-renowned Montreal Jazz Festival. I was there just at the start of the festival, but the tropical storm-style system that was moving across the entire regon and many of the festivities had yet to start. The Place des Arts is home to five different theatres as well, and you can see everything from ballet and symphony orchestras to rock concerts in this small section of the city. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (Contemporary Art Museum) is also located in the Place des Arts, easily visible from the Complexe Desjardins. The great part of the complex is that, although it is outdoors, it is connected to the underground city through Complexe Desjardins, which means that access to all shops, restaurants and cultural attractions is very, very easy, even during the city's harsh winters.
Rue Sainte Catherine is the main shopping street in Downtown Montreal. It is not exactly the highest-end shopping area (there are plenty of sleazy and lower-end stores along here), but you can pretty much find all kinds of stores and goods on the long walk through the area. Sainte Catherine is pretty much equivalent of Yonge Street in Toronto, with lots of entertainment on the side streets that run off of it. Despite the sleazy feel of some of the stores, and the impersonal aspect lent by chains like Zara, H&M and Chapters, there is still plenty of history along Ste. Catherine. This was the core of the Anglophone area built up in the 1800s, after Quebec was definitively incorporated into the British Dominions and, following 1867, the birth of Canada through Confederation. Between the mid-1800s and the 1960s, Montreal's elite was solidly English, and the large number of Protestant churches and English architecture pay tribute to this part of the city's heritage. Following the Quiet Revolution, the core became much more Francophone, but the atmosphere has remained, providing an interesting contrast to the French influence of Vieux-Montreal.
I know that the Palais des Congrès or the Convention Centre is hardly a top-notch tourist attraction in any city, but the one in Downtown Montreal is a great example of the city's creative energy. The Palais des Congrès is located at the southern edge of the Downtown Core, just steps away from the historic centre of Vieux-Montreal, and across from the Intercontinental and Le Westin. Its multicoloured walls and futuristic interior provide a neat means of shifting from the French Colonial architecture of the old city to the business hub. The Palais des Congrès is, obviously, primarily for the holding of conventions and business meetings, but there is also plenty for those who visit the city for other reasons. Access to the subway system can be gained from the south-western corner of the Centre, and the northern side has a number of restaurants and shops that are all open during business hours. In the winter it will also be helpful to know that you can access the underground path system through the Palais des Congrès, which makes all the difference in minus 40 temperatures.
Each summer, Montreal hosts a variety of awesome conventions and events besides the renowned Montreal Jazz festival. One such convention is the Graffiti convention where artists from around the world freely tag buildings around Rue St. Catherine. Talented artists, good DJ's, cans of beer shielded in paper bags and a warm feeling of happiness.
Just outside our hotel, The Delta Centre Ville there were horse and carriage drives available for hire. The carriages looked beautiful and as we walked around the city we would often see the carriages go by.