Advice for Montreal
Advice for Montreal Reviews
Ideas for Visiting Montreal Sep 09, 2009
Tips about visiting different parts of Montreal and what to expect
OK, as far as sight seeing,
It is a very small area that easily could be walked, especially in the summer. The water front has horse and buggy rental, as well as bicycle and scooter rentals if you want to move around a little quicker. There is also the IMAX theatre on the water front if you want to check out a show. There are MANY small café’s and lounges in the Old Montreal area and I suggest just walking around and ducking into various ones for a drink or two.
I have eaten at Restaurant Des Vieux Ports which is pretty good and not too expensive, but it is a formal restaurant, though there are many less formal restaurants in that general area. It is located on Saint Paul, but like I said there are many on that street and in that general area. Also, Place Jacque Cartier has many small café’s and restaurants and is definitely a place to people watch on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Botanical Gardens/Olympic Stadium
Located further North east of Montreal, there is the botanical gardens. Good romantic place to walk around and check out flowers and fauna. Near there is the Olympic stadium and next to that is the Bio-dome. It was originally the building created to house bike racing during the 76 Olympics, but has been converted to a bio-diversity ecological exhibition/tour. It has 4 climate zones from tropical to arctic, with animals from each of these areas. (Penguins, fish, sea lions etc).
The mount Royal Observatory is a lookout point that overlooks the entire downtown area. The city of Montreal does not allow any building to be built taller than the mountain, so you have an un obstructed view of the entire St Laurence Valley as well as the entire sky line. Great for taking pictures. It is bordered by Beaver Lake and Mount Royal Park. This is a great park to spend the day and has a small lake at the top. On Sundays, there is a gathering called Tam Tam, which is when various people gather, hang out and drink and listen to people play tribal drums etc. it’s a great cultural experience and you get to see all the different types of people in Montreal.
St Catherine Street
Between Guy and Place Des Arts is the main shopping area of downtown Montreal. You can find all of your name brand merchandise within department stores like Simon’s and The Bay (which is the Hudson’s bay company, which was founded hundreds of years ago as a fur trader, but eventually became a regular department store). There are also MANY shops and boutiques where you can find uniquely Canadian brands (Mexx, Roots, Jacob) to international renown brand names (Martinique, Armani etc). There are also many small café’s and bars intermixed within the shopping area that you could grab a quick drink and food. The Metro system also runs underneath so if you get tired of walking, you could always hop on board. Its $2.75 for a token and they are very clean and safe. Place des Arts is known for the concerts and musicals that are hosted there as well as ground zero for the Jazz Festival. Usually during Jazz fest, the section of St Catherine’s street in front of Place des Arts is blocked off to traffic and stages and makeshift booths selling souvenirs and alcohol are set up. Its where you want to be during the Jazz Fest. A block or two further down, you get near Berry, is where St Catherine’s gets “interesting”. I wouldn’t call it unsafe, but it is known for sex shops and the occasional “street walker” or prostitute, but if you want to see the more seedier side of Montreal, its all there for you.
The Main (St Laurent Street)
St Laurent Street actually intersects with St Catherine near the rougher part of the street, but if you go 3-4 blocks north, you will be at St Laurent and Sherbrooke street, which is considered “The Main”. This is where the real Montréal come to see and be seen. Very trendy, very hip. You can find authentic ethnic food as well as bistros, nightclubs, lounges and expensive restaurants. If you venture there, be prepared to pay for parking. If you venture there at night, I suggest you take a cab and walk. The boulevard gets gridlocked with traffic and the scene on the streets is much more interesting on foot.
There are two main areas for nightlife in downtown
Crescent street area – This is more of the rowdy touristy part of Montreal. Lots of small clubs pumping music. Not too many places with cover charge and you definitely see a mix of college students, drunken tourists and devout club heads. Don’t expect to get a big cultural or glamorous experience. Its no nonsense clubbing around there.
St Laurent street has various night clubs for the “beautiful people” in Montreal. The are is very trendy and expect to see people from all over the world, wearing designer clothes and grooving to house Music, hip hop and dance. I hear a lot of great things about club Opera, supposed to be a nice spot, though I have never been
Other notable mention
The Montreal Casino – located in the old French Pavilion from expo 67, it’s a 10 story casino with live shows, food etc. It used to be formal attire only but I believe they have let that go
La Ronde (Six Flags) the Montreal amusement park. It was recently bought out by Six flags, not sure if they changed the name. Accessible by Metro or bus. Its on a man made island in the middle of the St Laurence River (St Helene’s island)
The fireworks competition might also be goinig on when you are there, I believe they shut down the Jacque Cartier bridge and allow pedestrians to watch the fireworks from there.
Fairemont bagels. A Montreal tradition. They are made fresh 24 hours a day in a small little hole in the wall of Fairmont avenue. Probably need a cab or bus to get there, but its worth the trip if you want some really good bagels…They deliver too..
Swartz Smoke Meat. – Another Montreal tradition, if you like smoke meat. Expect a line out the door.
Also famous Dunn’s Famous Smoke Meat
Lachine Canal/ Lachine Rapids
The Lachine Canal is a stretch of land on the south part of the island that bourders the Lachine Canal. Its great for bike riding and sight seeing. The Lachine rapids are rapids also on the south side of town. There are boat tours that let you shoot the rapids. Be prepared to get drenched if you do so. I hear its very rough and challenging but at the same time fun.
I think off the top of my head, this is all that I have, if I think of anything else, I will let you know.
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