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.
Downtown is Montréal's business quarter. This is where all the skyscrapers are - and being a city of close to 4 million inhabitants, Montréal has many of them!
My recommendation would be to just walk through Downtown - you'll see enough interesting things at every corner. A good starting point is the Auberge de Jeunesse close to Boulevard Rene Levesque. The boulevard will take you through some parts of Downtown and you can always change to other roads to see more.
A special point of interest is tiny St.George's Church among all the skyscrapers - a relict from the pre-skyscraper age (second photo).
Skip the horse drawn carriage and walk around the old downtown area yourself from the Basilica to the waterfront. Explore the shops and cafe's and hop on the Gray Line bus tour that leaves from the port area. Good two hour tour was all we needed, then stopped off at Peel for some shopping.
I like that Montreal has little spots of green all around the urban chaos. This pretty cathedral was right outside my hotel, across the street from a little park. It faces Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral.
Looking for a place full of local students? Let's talk about Café Campus! Situated on Prince Arthur St. (which is perpendicular to St.Laurent St., another street full of restaurants and bars), the Café Campus is THE place to go if you want to dance all night long. Trust me, you won't stop saying: 'Hey! It's my song!!!'. I go there twice per week and I always have fun. Everybody is so friendly, it's like having a big party in a loft with 300 people! Tuesday night: 60s/70s/80s, 7$ pitcher!!!, Thursday night: 90s music up to now, 2$ beer (bottle), Friday/Saturday: hip-hop, alternative, etc., Sunday night: French music from France and Quebec (a good time to feel the French culture of Quebec...). See you there!
Montreal's underground city consists of 30 km of tunnels spread over an area of twelve square kilometres of downtown Montreal. The underground city includes 60 residential and commercial complexes comprising 3.6 square kilometres of floor space, including 80% of all office space and 35% of all commercial space in the centre. Services include hotels, shopping malls, banks, corporate headquarters, museums, university buildings, seven metro stations, two commuter train stations, and the Bell Centre hockey arena. There are more than 120 exterior access points to the underground city. Some 500,000 people use the underground city per day, especially to escape Montreal's harsh winter. In 2004 the underground city was rebranded and given the name RESO.
Although the urban planning achievement is impressive, the services are mainly shopping malls. However, this is a very useful thing when temperatures fall below zero and you want to stay warm.
Boulevard St-Laurent, also called "The Main" is the central road that divides the traditionally English-speaking part of Montreal in the west from the traditionally French-speaking part of Montreal in the east. I say "traditionally" because these are generalizations that were probably more accurate decades ago, and are less relevant today.
It's here on St-Laurent where you'll find a lot of great shopping and dining opportunities. Like St-Denis, the shops and restaurants on St-Laurent exist for the sake of Montrealers more than the tourists, which gives it a genuine and authentic Montreal experience.
At the southern end of St-Laurent is the Old Port of Montreal - the old historic neighbourhood. Up from the Old Port I found that a lot of the city's trendy clubs, lounges and bars were located here, or at least not far from it. The famous Schwart'z Deli (for smoked meat) is located on St-Laurent. Daniel Langlois's state of the art multimedia building "L'Excentris" is located here too. It's here where you can dine at the trendy, post-industrial Café Mélies.
Rue St-Denis is a major road in downtown Montreal heading north-south from the Old Port, all the way north to the Quartier Latin.
Rue St-Denis is traditionally the French-speaking part of Montreal, and it's here where you'll find unique Montreal shops and restaurants, catering to Montrealers themselves, not tourists.
Note that many of the buildings on St-Denis have the wrought-iron staircases leading up to the main doors. It's an architectural style unique to Montreal.
Downtown Montreal is where all the action takes place in Montreal. The best way to visit downtown Montreal is by walking. The main street is Ste-Catherine Street. There are many stores and bars on that Street, by walking there, you will be able to enjoy the heart of the city at is best.
If you know a collector (like my brother) every trip will include a stop at a Hard Rock Cafe in search of a t-shirt. Didn't actually stop here for a drink, but it looked like the crowd was having fun.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Art is featuring the Jean Cocteau exhibit from May 6 to August 29, 2004. Admission is $12 Can. Jean Cocteau is a French artist, film maker, poet, sculpture and song writer. This is a very avant garde exhibit and is definitely not appropriate for young children. Some of his art is pornographic and most is very disturbing. Cocteau was addicted to opium for many years and this addiction is easily seen in his art. The entire collection challenges the mind to move beyond the limits of what is known.
Be sure not to miss the pipe cleaner head sculpture and the Human Voice video featuring Ingrid Bergman.
Sometimes the best way to find things is to stumble upon them. I would encourage just going for a walk downtown Montreal. I was impressed by the many historical and art monuments that seemed to be everywhere. the sky-scrapers also impressed me very much!
Downtown Montreal is a fascinating mixture of old & new. Anytime of the year it's an absolute pleasure to walk around the downtown area. With something new to discover on most every block, great fun can be had by all!
What is known as the Underground City
Since the temperature can drop to sub-zero even in summer (just joking), the metro system aided by well positioned walkways and tunnels, can join already widespread underground building lower levels and this way can let people walk around for hours without even peeking their nose outside.
Some people will park their car and leave their coat inside, jump in a outskirts metro station, commute downtown to work, have lunch, shop, have a 5 to 7 drink, commute back to their car without putting a coat.
More Info: Attached picture is for the Montreal Trust building which extend 4-5 floors below ground level (as most of the underground anyway).
Classification: Shopping , Eating and Drinking , Clubbing , Concerts , Theater , Museums , Cinema , Photography , Site Seeing