We drove our car up to Montreal from NY. The driving up there is a little different, so I recommend walking or taking the metro if you can. A lot of the streets are one way, but there aren't huge DO NOT ENTER signs or anything, just an arrow pointing in the direction of traffick. In many places the lines in the road are not clearly marked, so you aren't sure where you are supposssed to be or how many lanes are in the road, in addition in some places the third lane would suddenly become a parking lane where cars would be parked. The traffic lines are also on the side of the road (not hanging over the road), so if you're from a place like NY where you have hanging traffic lights the traffic lights in Montreal look like crossing lights for pedestrians so its best to pay close attention when driving. Some streets are also very narrow with cars parked on both sides and the street being one way, so if you have a very large SUV you might want to avoid going down the smaller, residential roads. Making left turns can also be tricky, because some lights have green turn arrows, whiles others don't have turn arrows. Rather, the green light will flash when you can make a left. I also don't know if you can make a right on red, as there were no signs saying you couldn't, but I saw drivers make rights on red and others wait for the light, however there wasn't a high police presence patrolling the streets that I could see. Navigating the city will be much easier with a gps (given the one way streets).
The native drivers are good, and I found many drivers very respectable. One guy even backed up his car when he was a little bit in the pedestrian crosswalk.
Parking is very difficult, which is another reason I recommend walking/metro when you can. There are a lot of places on the side of the road where you aren't sure if it is a parking spot or not, and in some places the parking meters are set further back from the parking spot as there is another car lane in between. I would recommend parking in public parking lots if you have too. There are a lot of them around in the different areas, some slightly cheaper than others. Most of these were around 12$, which is good if you plan on spending a good portion of the day in a certain area, but not really worth it if you are just going to a restuarant for an hour or so.
Right now the roads in Montreal are miserables, don't be surprised to find many holes in the roads (here they call them: Nids de poule), so be alwayse aware if you are driving.
CAA quebec create a web page in their site dedicated for this and with the help of drivers the list is updated frequently.
There are plenty of parking lots in Montreal, so it is very hard to find the best one that fits your needs. Last time I went without proper info, i didn't have a pleasant time because I just didnt know if I was paying too much or not.
So my tip is to check out Montreal Parking's website. It basically just displays on google map the parking lots and their prices. Saved me lots of time and headhaches!
Just a little tip for all you drivers out there.
In the rest of Quebec Province it is perfectly OK to make a right turn at road intersections even when the traffic lights are on red (provided of course your route is clear and bearing in mind that pedestrians crossing still have right of way). Not so on the Ile de Montreal. Here you can only make your turn on the green light.
Why? I don't know, but I assume there must be a reason for it. If anyone does know please drop me a line.
For Quebec driving info see website below:
Whether you are driving, biking or walking in Montreal, be careful!
The drivers seem to go on red lights, turn when they're not always supposed to, and they certainly dont always stop for pedestrians who are crossing the street in a crosswalk!
On this note, a lot of people just jaywalk and cross the street whenever and wherever they please.
So, like I said, whether you are driving, walking or biking, make sure you are aware of what is going on around you. Keep your eyes up!
Before parking, anywhere, even in front of a park, or right in front of your house, read the parking sign! There are times when no one is allowed to park, times when you can park, but with a time limit, and some times for parking.
If you park in the wrong place and wrong time and winter, snow cleaners will tow your car, or if they can slither through, you'll have to dig your car out.
Seen here is this unlucky fellow left in the street, while other cars are on the sidewalk. Its just the way it is.
Montreal is 2-3 hours away from the next largest city, so make sure you fill up on gasoline before you make the drive. There is a LOT of farm land that surrounds the city and gas stations are far and few in between! Make sure your car is in good condition, as you sure wouldn't want to pay for getting towed 100 miles or so to the nearest mechanic, either.
The weather can be cold, so if you're driving, be sure to dress warm enough. Bring several bottles of drinking water "just in case". It's not like Massachusetts where there's a Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks every other corner :o)
And there's a casino there, too, but every casino area is known for its regulars. Always lock up your car and keep your money close to you. (Don't count it out in the open.)
Sorry, but to us Montreal SUCKS!!! We've been to many places in N.America and Europe but only in Montreal we found our car vandalized: window broken, stolen items worth of $US 5,000. It is a regular Suzuki with Ontario plates and we parked NE corner of Pie IX and Sherbrooke in the middle of the day (12pm, Aug 2006). We got back in one hour. Police didn't give a ***: they said "it's happening every day". And believe me, there was nothing obvious: just clothes and regular tourist stuff; it was a normal parking area where other cars were parked as well. Still, the thieves in Montreal seem to be very confident... So all of you planning to visit Montreal think twice and don't believe the warm-fuzzy advices that comforts you with "pretty safe" statements.
I’ll start with the inconvenience factor, this is one of the few car rentals companies that is not located at the airport, in fact no one was quite sure where they were, someone said they were in a house about 1 km away, our shuttle driver was the one that finally delivered us to the Hilton near the airport where they were located. They also close earlier than the other companies, by the time our delayed flight had landed at 11 pm, it was already closed.
But the real reason I’d not recommend them is that when we went to turn in our car, my 5 day $161 US rental turned out to be $266 CAD or $239 US. Now by my calculations, $161 US should be about $179CAD at current exchange rates. So when we asked what the extra charge was for there was $8.95 CAD per day for mandatory liability (OK that was in the fine print). So now I’m at $201US, what’s the other $38 for? The best I can figure from the explanation I got was that they charge their customers at a different exchange rate based on what the credit card charge them. We offered to pay them in cash. They said they don’t take cash. We had to catch a plane. So we signed, very unhappy.
Do yourself a favor and don’t rent from these folks.
The summer is coming, the city become alive again, it's the season of fun and festivals but alos of construction! especially this summer of 2006, the city intend to remake lot of roads because they become so bad and dangerous.
So if you are coming this summer then be prepared ;)
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