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Montreal/Old Montreal

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Old Montreal (French: Vieux-Montréal) is what many visitors come to Montreal for: old cobblestoned streets lined with buildings dating from the 17th through 19th centuries, grand old French restaurants, history museums, and the riverfront Old Port. That's not to say that Old Montreal is completely removed from the rest of Montreal — back a few blocks from the mimes and steakhouses, you'll find warehouses converted to boutique shops and loft apartments.

During the summer, Place Jacques-Cartier is packed with street performers and restaurant terraces overflowing with tourists. Winter presents a much more subdued scene, with bundled figures hurrying from gallery to restaurant to hotel in the cold and snow.

It is a mistake to call Old Montreal the "Old City" or "Old Town". Locals do not call it this, only guide books do.

Get in

By metro

Old Montreal is served by three metro stations — Square-Victoria, Champ-de-Mars, and Place-d'Armes. They are a short walk into the heart of things, but there's a bit of a hill.

By car

Street parking is scarce and runs $3 per hour. Parking complexes run $6/1hr, $15 max, $20 for 12-24 hours.

  • Clock Tower Quay, enter from rue Berri or rue de la Commune est.
  • Montréal Science Centre, take boulevard Saint-Laurent or rue de la Commune.
  • Alexandra Quay, either rue de la Callière or rue de la Commune ouest.
  • Complexe Chaussegros-de-Léry, next to Champ-de-Mars metro, has over a thousand spots.

A few small commercial lots operate around City Hall for $20/day. Note that the streets are small and one-way, and thronged with pedestrians in the summer. Plans are in the works to turn rue Saint-Paul into a pedestrian walk, further complicating things.

By bus

Bus 715 runs through Old Montreal from Metcalfe and Ste. Catherine (close to Peel metro station) from the west, or from Berri-UQAM metro station from the east.

From the Plateau, the 55 runs down Saint-Laurent to Saint-Jacques and up St. Urbain and the 30 runs down rue Berri (1 block east of Saint-Denis). From downtown, take the 75 de la Commune, get off at McGill/Wellington: it's then a four block walk to the edge of the cobblestone.

By boat

Ferries (navettes) run to and from Île Sainte-Hélène May to October and to the suburb of Longueuil on the south shore.

Get around

Old Montreal is small enough that walking is usually the best way to get around. Sidewalks are narrow and the streets cobblestone, making slow going for wheelchairs and strollers.

  • Horse drawn carriages (Calèche). Carriage tours leave from Place d’Armes and the top and bottom of Place Jacques-Cartier. $45 for 30 min, $75 for 1 hour.
  • Segway Canada, Hanger 16, Clock Tower Pier, +1 514 393-0734 (), [1]. Guided tours on a Segway upright scooter, which is a novelty in itself. Old City Tour lasts two hours, including 30 minutes of training and cover the Old Port, Old Town, and Habitat 67. There is also a tour of Canal Lachine and the sculptures at Park Rene Levesque. And you can rent a Segway for independent touring. Tours start at $80 per person, rental at $20/30 minutes.
  • Old Montréal: The Official Walking Tours by Guidatour, 110 rue Notre-Dame ouest (in front of Notre-Dame Basilica), 514 844-4021, [2]. May-Oct 11AM and 1:30PM. Two tours are offered : East or West side of Old Montréal. Either one or the other of this 90 minute tour will get you oriented with a professionnal local guide. $21 adult / $19 student and senior / $12 child.

Bike rentals

  • Vélo Aventure, quai des Convoyeurs, +1 514 288-8356. Summer bike and roller blade rentals.
  • Montréal On Wheels, +1 514 866-0633, [3]. Bikes, tandem bikes, roller blades, and accessories such as baby seats. Bike tours also offered. Weekdays $8/hr; weekends $9/hr..

See

  • Vieux-Port (Old Port), South of rue Saint-Antoine between rue McGill and rue Berri (metro Champ-de-Mars or Place-d'Armes), [4]. The Old Port is a large waterfront green space with attractions such as Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal Science Center, the Labyrinth, the Clock Tower, and a large outdoor audio-visual stage which is the site for the Canada Day fireworks.
  • Place Jacques-Cartier. Pedestrian street filled with street artists and musicians, and there are numerous fine restaurants and private art galleries nearby.
  • Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours), 350 rue Saint-Paul est (between rue Bonsecours and rue Saint-Claude; metro Champ-de-Mars), [5]. 10AM-6PM daily (late June-Labour Day until 9PM daily, early May-late June F-Sa until 9PM, Labour Day thtough Oct Th-F until 9PM and Sa until 7PM).
  • Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame), 116 rue Notre-Dame ouest (at place d'Armes/rue Saint-Sulpice; metro Place-d'Armes), [6]. Probably the city's most spectacular church, a gem of Victorian Gothic. Service is at 5PM daily and on Sunday morning. Entrance is free for worship, but donations are suggested. During service, the organ music is not to be missed. While it shouldn't have to be mentioned, tourists should be respectful during services. Note that photography is not allowed during services. Guided tours offered. Entrance fee is $5..

Museums

Old Montreal has the largest concentration of historical homes and museums — plus the ultra-modern Montréal Science Centre.

  • Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (Musée Marguerite-Bourgeoys et Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours), 400 rue Saint-Paul est (at rue Bonsecours; metro Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 282-8670 (, fax: +1 514 282-8672), [7]. May-Oct: Tu-Su 10AM-5:30PM; Oct-Apr: Tu-Su 11AM—3:30PM. Built in 1655, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, is the oldest stone church in Montreal. The museum houses artifacts from the church's history and pays tribute to Marguerite Bourgeoys, Montreal's first teacher. $3 child / $4 student / $6 adult / $4 senior / $12 family. (45.509804,-73.55122)
  • Pointe-à-Callière (Montréal Museum of Archeology and History), 350 place Royale (at place d'Youville/rue de la Commune; metro Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 872-9150, [8]. Labour Day to 24 June: Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su 11AM-5PM; 25 June to Labour Day: M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa-Su 11AM-6PM. A modern museum built over the ruins of Montreal's first settlement, Pointe à Callière. This museum uses audiovisual technology as well as surrounding archaeological remains to tell the story of Montreal from the first natives to the present day. $15 adults, $10 seniors (65+), $8 students (13-30 with ID), $6 youth (6-12), children 5 and under free. $30 family rate also offered for 1 adult plus 3 children or 2 adults plus 2 children (17 and under).
  • Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site (Lieu historique national de Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier), 458 rue Notre-Dame est (at rue Berri; metro Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 283-2282, [9]. 6 Apr-19 June and 7 Sep-23 Dec: W-Su 10AM-5PM; 20 June-4 Sep: 10AM-5:30PM daily. Reconstruction of two 19th century Victorian homes. $3.90 adults, $3.40 seniors (65+), $1.90 youth (6-16), $9.80 families/groups (up to seven people with a maximum of two adults).
  • Montréal Science Centre (Centre des sciences de Montréal), 333 rue de la Commune ouest (at boul Saint-Laurent on Quai King-Edward; metro Place-d'Armes, bus 55 or 515), +1 514 496-4724 or 1-877-496-4724, [10]. M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa-Su 9:30AM-5PM; check listings for IMAX movie times. Interactive science museum and IMAX theater. IMAX screenings $9 child / $12 adult; Exhibitions $9 child / $12 adult; Combo tickets $15 child / $20 adult. (45.504832,-73.551939)
  • Centre d'histoire de Montréal, 335 place d'Youville (at rue Saint-Pierre; metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 872-3207 (, fax: +1 514 872-9645), [11]. Covering the history of Montreal from its founding in 1535. The museum is housed in a former fire station that dates from 1903. $6 adults, $5 seniors, $4 children (6-17) and students, $15 families (2 adults plus 2 children or 1 adult plus 3 children), free for children under 6.
  • Bank of Montréal Museum, 129 rue Saint-Jacques ouest (at place d'Armes; metro Place-d'Armes), +1 514 877-6810. M-F 10AM-4PM. Hands-on museum focusing on the history of banking in Montreal. Free.
  • Château Ramezay Museum, 280 rue Notre-Dame est (at rue Saint-Claude; metro Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 861-3708, [12]. Jun-Oct 10AM-6PM daily. 18th century Governor's residence and gardens full of historical artifacts from daily life. $4 child / $5 student / $8 adults / $6 senior / $16.50 families.
  • DHC/ART, 451 rue Saint-Jean (at rue du Saint-Sacrement; metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 286-6626, [13]. W-F noon-7PM, Sa-Su 11AM-6PM. A privately endowed foundation, DHC/ART is a permanent location for exciting and relevant temporary visual arts exhibitions and projects. Free.

Do

  • Winter Ice Skating, the Old Port, [14]. Oct-Mar 10AM-9PM daily. $4 adults / $3 child (does not include skate rental).
  • Boat rental.
  • Shed 16 Labyrinth (Labyrinthe du Hangar 16), Shed 16, Clock Tower Pier, [15]. 17 May-15 Jun: Sa-Su 11:30AM-5PM; 21 Jun-24 Aug: 11AM-9PM daily; 25 Aug-28 Sep: Sa-Su and holidays 11:30AM-5:30PM. Indoor maze in a converted hanger. EDIT: Website reports closed as of October 30th. $9.75 child/ $12 teens / $13 adult.
  • Jet Boating, Clock tower pier (metro Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 284-9607, [16]. $40 child / $50 teen / $60 adult / $70 with dinner.

Festivals

  • Igloofest.
  • Montréal High Lights (Montreal All-Nighter).
  • Harbour Symphonies.

Buy

Marche Bonsecours

Worth a visit for the neoclassical building itself, Marche Bonsecours houses local art and design boutiques. The Market is open daily 10AM-6PM, 9PM weekends 1 Apr-31 Dec and daily 24 Jun-Labor Day.

  • L'Institut de Design de Montréal, 390 rue Saint-Paul est (Marche Bonsecours, level 2), +1 514 866-2436, [17]. Functional design objects — kitchen tools, organizers, household accessories — from Montreal designers.
  • Boutique des métiers d'art du Québec, 390 rue Saint-Paul est (Marche Bonsecours, level 1), +1 514 878-2787 (), [18]. Arts, crafts, and jewelry from over 100 Quebec artists.
  • Studio/Boutique gogo•glass, 390 rue Saint-Paul est (Marche Bonsecours, level 1), +1 514 397-8882, [19]. Hand blown glass by local artists Annie Michaud and Karine Bouchard. Demonstrations of glass blowing techniques.

Art galleries

  • Galerie de Chariot, 446 place Jacques-Cartier (metro Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 875-6134 (, fax: +1 514 875-6807), [20]. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-3PM. Government-certified Innuit soapstone carvings and historical drawings.
  • Michel-ange, 430 rue Bonsecour (metro Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 875-8281 (), [21]. Tu-F 10AM-6PM, Sa-Su 11AM-5PM.

Clothing

  • Collection Mariouche Inc (Harricana), 3000 rue Saint-Antoine ouest, +1 514 287-6517 (), [22]. M 10AM-5PM, Tu-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. With the motto "Made from your mother's old fur coat," Harricana takes stuffy old furs and recycles them into hip accessories, vests, and coats — even stuffed animals.

Eat

Restaurants cater to tourists, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few gems that draw locals. Note that many of the restaurants along Place Jacques-Cartier shut down or at least close their terraces and gardens forcing patrons into a smaller, and often less charming, inside dining room. Prices for each range are slightly higher here than elsewhere in the city.

Budget

  • Olive & Gourmando, 351 rue Saint-Paul ouest, +1 514 350-1083, [23]. Popular boulangerie offering fresh sandwiches, soups, and a daily lunch dish and baked goods. Also sells breads, jams, and snacks to take away.
  • L'Aventure, 438 place Jacques-Cartier, +1 514 866-9439, [24]. Pub and bar featuring two terraces in the summer. French bistro cuisine plus soups, salads, pizza, and pastas. $7-$15.
  • Marché du Vieux, 8 rue Saint-Paul Street est, +1 514 393-2772, [25]. 8AM-6PM daily. Equal parts bistro and fine-food boutique, Marché du Vieux is a cute spot for a gourmet lunch or snack.
  • Le Saint-Gabriel, 426 rue Saint-Gabriel, +1 514 878-3561 (), [26]. Tu-F noon-2:30PM and 6PM-10PM, Sa 6PM-10PM. French fine cuisine with a taste of Quebec from the first North America alcohol licence, issued in 1754.

Mid-range

  • Restaurant Bonaparte, 443 rue Saint-François-Xavier (in the hotel of the same name), +1 514 844-4368, [27].
  • Le Jardin Nelson, 407 place Jacques-Cartier (metro Place-d'Armes or Champ-de-Mars), +1 514 861-5731, [28]. Fancy and filling crepes are the main draw to this historic restaurant and garden courtyard. Offering outdoor jazz and other live music in the summer, it loses some of it's charm in the winter when things move inside.
  • Boris Bistro, 465 avenue McGill, +1 514 848-9575, [29]. M-F 11:30AM-2PM and 5PM-9PM, Sa 6PM-9PM. Popular bistro featuring a large courtyard. Menu offers meats, seafood, and pastas. Try the French fries cooked in duck fat. $15-20.
  • Restaurant Le Fripon, 436 place Jacques-Cartier, +1 514 861-1386 (, fax: +1 514 861-7748), [30]. Grand historic building with shaded terrace serving French bistro fare, seafood, and pastas. Note the terrace menu is limited to soups, snails, and fries. Bar features wide selection of domestic and imported beers.
  • Chez Suzette, 3 rue Saint-Paul est, +1 514 874 1984, [31]. Crepes and fondue in a cozy, family-friendly spot. Wine and cider at SAQ prices + $5.
  • Sushi-ya, 350 rue Saint-Paul est (basement level in Marché Bonsecours; take stairs down under the big wooden fish), +1 514 315-7472 (), [32]. M-Sa 11AM-3PM and 5PM-10PM. Well-executed and beautifully presented sushi and tempura in an elegant dining room. Staff speaks English as well as French. dinner $10-20.

Splurge

  • Gibby's, 298 place d'Youville, +1 514 282-1837, [33]. 200 year-old steakhouse, popular with tourists. Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Chez L'epicier Restaurant Bar a Vin, 311 rue Saint-Paul est, +1 514 878-2232, [34]. M-F lunch and dinner, Sa dinner. Order from the imaginative menu or put yourself in the chef's capable hands for a five course tasting menu. Ask ahead for all-vegetarian or fish and vegetables only. Save room for the "chocolate club sandwich." lunch $20-$30, dinner $30-$80.
  • Aix Cuisine du Terroir, 711 côte de la Place-d'Armes (Hôtel Place d’Armes), +1 514 904-1201, [35]. M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, Sa-Su 6:30AM-3PM and 5:30PM-11PM. A new addition to the local culinary scene, Aix Cuisine du Terroir incorporates local products including game meats, seafood, and cheeses. Signature dishes include deer tartare, a "wild game fricassee," and caramelized leek and onion tart. Extensive wine list and generous cocktails. $20-40.
  • Restaurant Vauvert, 355 rue McGill (in the St. James Hotel), +1 514 876-2823, [36]. Open daily for lunch and dinner. In the space formerly occupied by restaurant Cube. Now dramatically decked out in blacks and purples, Vauvert offers both a regular menu and tapas style dishes to accompany the extensive wine list. Dishes focus on game meats, local produce, and cheeses. $20-30.
  • Les Remparts (Bistro Narcisse), 97 rue de la Commune est (in the Auberge de Vieux Port), +1 514 392-1649, [37]. M 5:30PM-10PM, Tu-Th,Su 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM. Classic French cuisine focusing on game meats including wild boar, duck, and venison.
  • Toqué!, 900 place Jean-Paul-Riopelle (metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 499-2084, [38]. In 1993, chef Normand Laprise put Montreal cuisine on the map with this landmark restaurant, and after more than 10 years, it's still going strong in a new location. Combining the latest trends in fine dining with local and regional produce, the chefs create spectacularly complex dishes in tiny, but strangely satisfying portions. The house specialty is an eight-course surprise menu, made up of many small dishes. This restaurant will take a bite out of your wallet, but serious foodies will find it worth the cost. $30-50 ($80 menu, $100 with wine).

Drink

Old Montreal has limited nightlife options as most bars and lounges are found in hotels or part of restaurants. Standalone bars are more popular for after-work drinks than the late-night partying which happens in the Plateau and Downtown's Crescent Street.

  • Pub St-Paul, 124 rue Saint-Paul est, +1 514 874-0485, [39]. Big space, popular with tours. Offers pub grub and a view of the river during the day and live music (Th-Sa 10PM). Cheap (for Old Montreal) and casual. (45.506995,-73.552649)
  • Santos Café and Lounge, 191 rue Saint-Paul ouest, +1 514 849-8881. Cafe-by-day and bar-by-night, Santos is the place to escape your hotel lobby for a martini and late night snack of "Pop Food", their take on tapas. Live jazz on Thursdays, DJ on the weekends. Reservations recommended for Saturday nights. Weekend covers start around $20.
  • Wunderbar, 901 rue du Square-Victoria (in the The W Hotel; metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 395-3195. Tu-Sa 10PM-3AM. Trendy spot on the edge of Old Montreal. Expect cover charges and a line at the door. Changing out of your sight-seeing clothes and into something swanky will probably help get you in the door.
  • Suite 701, 711 côte de la Place-d'Armes (in the Place d'Armes Hotel), +1 514 842-1887. 5PM-3AM daily. "Suite" sums it up for this high-end lounge popular with the executive set. Leather couches and sipping scotches. If you find yourself too comfortable to get up, you can order off the Aix Cuisine du Terroir menu. No cover.

Sleep

Budget

  • Le Sous-bois, 431 rue Saint-Vincent (metro Square-Victoria), [40]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Funky hostel featuring recycled-wood beds, no lockout, free - if a bit slow - internet, movies, a huge common area and a terrace. Large female, male and mixed dorms. While airmatresses were introduced to try and keep out the bed bugs, they haven't quite succeeded. The beds can be comfortable but the squeaking gets noisy at night - the hostel does hand out free ear plugs though.
  • Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal (Augerge Alternative du Vieux-Montréal), 358 rue Saint-Pierre (metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 282-8069, [41]. Housed in a 19th century warehouse, this hostel boasts fair trade coffee, wi-fi, an organic continental breakfast, and a range of activities and classes. Kitchen and laundry facilities provided. Often full, reservations recommended. $23 dorm bed, $60 double room. (45.501085,-73.55601)

Mid-range

  • Auberge Vieux Port, 97 rue de la Commune est (metro Champ-de-Mars), [42]. A good deal for the price, this historical building, set back from the street, books up early.
  • Le Guilleret, 431 rue Saint Vincent (Notre-Dame and Saint-Paul), [43]. THIS HOTEL HAS APPARENTLY CLOSED. Family-run boutique hotel in a historic building. Carefully designed range of rooms from simple double bed in a stone-walled attic to spacious four-person suite with fireplace, jacuzzi tub, and big screen TV. All with private bathrooms. Rates run from $58 for a basic room on a winter weeknight to $295 for a suite in the summer. Children stay free..
  • Le Westin Montreal, 270 St. Antoine ouest (metro Station Square-Victoria), 1-866-716-8101, [44]. Montreal's newest hotel offers 454 large and well-appointed guestrooms at the gateway to Old Montreal. Each room features the ten-layer Heavenly Bed, and the hotel also offers a unique glass-bottom pool.

Splurge

  • Hotel St-Paul, 355 rue McGill (metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 380-2222, [45]. This self-described "design hotel" features uber-modern rooms on the edge of the historical district. See Eat and Drink for bars and restaurants in the same building.
  • Hotel Nelligan, 106 rue Saint-Paul ouest (metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 788-2040, [46]. Falling somewhere between posh and opulent, the Nelligan offers large rooms with king beds, loft-style suites, and rooftop two-room penthouses above a fine French restaurant. Some rooms with fireplaces, and jacuzzi-tubs for two. $225 and up.
  • Hotel Gault, 449 rue Sainte-Hélène, +1 866 904-1616, [47]. Feels like you're stepping into Architectural Digest with ultra-modern furniture and rooms. Located in a converted warehouse in Old Montreal. Very helpful staff.
  • Le Saint Sulpice, 414 rue Saint Sulpice, +1 877 785-7423, [48]. Four-star boutique hotel offering four types of luxury suites.
  • Le Petit Hotel, 168 rue Saint-Paul ouest (metro Place-d'Armes), +1 514 940-0360 (toll free: +1 877 530-0360), [49]. checkin: noon; checkout: 3PM. Newest boutique hotel in Montreal, Le Petit Hotel is charming, chic and hip. Located right in the middle of fashionable Old Montreal, it combines 19th century architecture with 21st century delights such as wifi, iPod docking station, LCDs, Nintendo Wii and multi-jet showers. $195-$350. (45.503233,-73.554961)
  • Montreal Intercontinental, 360 rue Saint-Antoine ouest (metro Square-Victoria), [50]. (45.502959,-73.56034)
  • W Montreal, 901 rue du Square-Victoria (metro Square-Victoria), +1 866 716-8101, [51]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: noon. A luxury hotel, the W Montreal has 152 rooms, spa, and a restaurant - Otto Ristorante. This hotel is located between downtown and Old Montreal. (45.502036,-73.562015)

Contact

There are no cyber-cafes in Old Montreal, but a few cafes and restaurants in the area participate in Île Sans Fils, Montreal's free, public wi-fi program. Your best bet, if you're without laptop, is to ask to use the business center at one of the larger hotels-—expect to be charged accordingly.

  • Planète Sans-Fil, 333 rue de la Commune ouest. Free wi-fi access outside the Planète Sans-Fil (Wireless Planet) office.
  • Pizzedelic, 39 rue Notre-Dame ouest, +1 514 286-1200. Funky upscale thin-crust pizza place with full bar. Salads, soups, pastas also on the menu. Try the apples and sultana raisin pizza for something a little different. Free wi-fi.
  • Cluny Artbar, 257 rue Prince (metro Square-Victoria), +1 514 866-1213, [52]. M-Th 8AM-5PM, F 8AM-9PM. Hip art gallery/bar/café with free wi-fi.
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