Old Montreal, Montreal
... We didn’t, we wanted to be able to poke around and see things at our own speed. The caleches were to be seen everywhere in the old town area, doing quite a steady trade, so they obviously are popular.
I’ve included them under “Tourist Traps”, because I struggle to see the value in a $45 half hour trip looking at a horse’s posterior (or $75 for one hour). Still, it’s “horses for courses” (sorry about that) and maybe you’ll get a complete buzz from one of these rides.
You will be able to arrange a ride at Place d’Armes (where the second photo was taken), at the City Hall, or rue De La Commune near Place Jacques Cartier.
Fun Alternatives: Walk! Take time to take in the sights.
Dear Old Montréal,
we love you, but some of your restaurants are really too expensive for what they have to offer. Especially on Place Jacques-Cartier, where all the tourists go. The little ones which are supposed to be cheap. Well, they are cheap, but not for the costumer. It's more like, the owners, that are cheap.
Unique Suggestions: Not all, though. The few ones that are on the Eastern side, same side as the Town Hall, are ok. You can still find some good ones on the Western side of the street. I haven't been to all of them. But be wary. And it isn't just in that particular spot of Old Montréal, that you have to be careful, so look to see if there is a reasonnable amount of locals inside. If they all look like lost tourists, it's because what they really lost is their appetite.
Fun Alternatives: But Old Montréal also contains a lot of great restaurants, so don't worry. Either ask at the place you are staying, or to locals you come to chat with. And it isn't because they are French Canadians that they cannot be tourists, so ask them if they know the place well.
And in doubt, you can always bring yourself a small pic-nic, that you can eat along the old quay, just down the street. There is a parc there, that follows it, and where you will eventually go to, anyway, like everyone else.
Do not go to the Irish in Old Montreal. Prices are abusive and staff cold and unfriendly. Am still trying to figure out why it calls himself an Irish pub??
Only going thing about this pub: nice view from the windows.
If your a tourist on a budget, you should avoid the usual tourist shopping locations such as Crescent st. and old montreal. If you are looking for great shopping locations, many alternative stores are located around ste. laurent and ste. Catherine where many malls are located.
Unique Suggestions: There are many local artists that sell their art in Old Montreal and is worth taking a look at.
Old Montreal also has beautiful architecture. Many old, brick-laid european streets line this part of town and are a joy to navigate.
Fun Alternatives: If you are looking for great shopping locations, many alternative stores are located around st. laurent and ste. Catherine where many malls are located.
Bonsecours Market is an imposing building (worth a look at) with a silvery dome. Inside it is used as an exibition space and a shopping mall. I was in and out within 10 minutes. Nothing but the architecture makes a visit worthwile.
Unique Suggestions: Go in only if you need to use the restrooms.
Fun Alternatives: Skip the Marche Bonsecours, and head up the street to Chapelle-Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours.
Though the Old Town is worth a visit, don't spend all your time here or you will wind up broke. Cafes are expensive and shops, typical tourist rip offs.
Unique Suggestions: Enjoy the sites and then eat and shop elsewhere and go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and get the best light for photos.
Fun Alternatives: It's better to eat in the small colorful neighorhoods to get a true feel and taste of this amazingly diverse city.
Though an impressive building from the outside, on seeing the name on the tourist map, I assumed it would be a produce market and was dissappointed to find a slick mall instead.
Unique Suggestions: Don't bother to go in, just enjoy it from outside.
Fun Alternatives: Shop in the great small shops on St. Laurent for more local flare.
It's sad to call this a tourist trap..but still. Last time i checked they charged 50$ canadian for the ride.. I find it's a bit expensive. You'll stroll around the old port with a few explanatory stops, yet they made a 'survey' and found a few drivers just babble on telling tourists a bunch of nonsense. (ie: bad dates, bad names, inventing events, etc..)
BUT if you feel a bit romantic, it might be nice
Fun Alternatives: It's still pleasant..
Rue St-Amable (marketed to tourists as Rue des Artistes) is a very narrow little alley off the Place Jacques-Cartier. While it may be picturesque and quaint to some, I found it stuffy and the art overpriced- not only that, but you could find the same art cheaper in stores along rue St-Paul. Some of the paintings were even of Quebec City and...Toronto! Why anyone would buy a painting of Toronto in Montreal is beyond me. I bought a nice little oil of the Vieux-Port, only because I collect little paintings of cities for my wall. In any case, the street is claustrophobia central and should be avoided. They should put a picture of this place in the dictionary next to the definition of tourist trap!
While the Marché Bonsecours in Vieux-Montréal must have been, at one time, a lively and interesting functioning marketplace, and still is a very beautiful historic structure, it has become somewhat of a tourist mecca of chain restaurants and little pushcarts not very representative of what 'Montréal' is all about. I felt a lot like i was in Boston's Quincy Market, another juxtaposition of stomach-filling but generally disinteresting chains. If anything, check out the Marché for the beauty of its historic architecture.
I must admit, Vieux-Montréal was nice but quite tiring because of all the tourists. It's a good place to visit some interesting museums or get a taste of Montréal's sprawling history, but it just didn't live up to the hype. Instead of going to the Marché Bonsecours, head out to the Marché Maisonneuve, Marché Atwater or Marché Jean-Talon.
The restaurant Gibby's in Old Montreal.
This steak house is located in a 400 years old buiding with almost 6 feet thick walls, but since it was a stable, the celling is also about 6 feet tall, the lighting is inadequate... and lastly but let's not forget, the food is just adequate if you consider the huge price you will pay.
Unique Suggestions: Visit then leave.
Oh those quaint horse-drawn carriages... And the cobblestone streets that fool you into thinking you might be walking around Paris or Prague... And - hundreds of shorts and sandals-with-socks wearing, loud-mouthed, camera-armed tourists?! That's basically what you'll have to deal with if you hit the Old Port on a Saturday or Sunday from about 10-5. Don't do it. Old Montreal is nice, that's true - but you'll hate your time there when you've got to negotiate throngs of (American) tourists gawking at all the sites.
Unique Suggestions: Go on a weekday. On a weekend, go early or late. Dinner is always an option, though it will also be pretty packed around the central streets. Remember that to experience the romanticism that is Old Montreal, a dose of intimacy is essential. So choose wisely.
Strolling along the Old Port is another option for when the Old city is crowded. It generally thins out along the boardwalk going East of the IMAX.
Fun Alternatives: Consider hanging out in Chinatown, which is on the way to Old Montreal. It's not huge, but you can have an excellent Chinese food buffet at a number of places, sip some bubble tea, maybe do some shopping. For some reason, I don't mind a crowded Chinatown (seems to fit the image) but I really can't stand a crowded Old Montreal.
Old Montreal is nice to visit, but keep away from the restaraunts and boutiques.
There is one building with small boutiques in it, and "restaraunts" in the basement.
One shop was selling art of Montreal starting at a mere $375. Um, this is a tourist area. How many tourists carry that much cash around to buy art? I am going to Montreal to see the city, not buy overpriced art! This same building had a sign pointing to "restaraunts" in the basement. There was ONE, and it was closed.
Down the street there was another shop selling poutine with smoked meat. Sure, its Montreal, why not, but at $12.95! I don't think so.
More Old Montreal photos: http://travel.webshots.com/album/578379107WfPyzm
Unique Suggestions: Look around and take photos only.
Fun Alternatives: There are a lot of places over on Rue Ste-Catherine that are much more reasonably priced.
Actually this is a nice little lane that juts off of Place Jacques-Cartier, but it's lined with artists and jewelers whose sole ambition is to take some of your tourist dollars.