Montreal is in Quebec, Canada.
Quartier International de Montreal The International Quarter is a modern urban centre, linking Old Montreal with the city's business district. Here visitors will find the convention centre Palais des Congres, the stock exchange tower and various sculptures and fountains in its streets and plazas. Address: Downtown Montreal QC Canada
The Plateau The Plateau is a trendy neighbourhood showcasing a mix of cultures with several restaurants, boutiques and shops. Address: Downtown Montreal QC Canada
Montreal's Chinatown Montreal's Chinatown is a vibrant district filled with Asian specialty shops and restaurants. Address: Corner of Saint-Laurent Blvd. and de La Gauchetière Street Montreal QC Canada
Montreal's Underground City Located beneath Montreal's downtown streets is the massive underground complex known as the Underground City. Composed of 33 km (20 mi) of passageways, the Underground City offers several services and links including, restaurants, shopping malls, metro stations, hotels, office buildings, museums, banks and more. Address: . Montreal QC Canada Ile Sainte-Helene An island in the St. Lawrence River, Ile Sainte-Helene (Saint Helen's Island in English) is situated in the city of Montreal. The island is home to the biosphere, La Ronde and the Stewart Museum. The annual fireworks competition is also held on this island, which makes up part of Jean Drapeau park with Ile Notre-Dame. Address: . Montreal Quebec CAN
Vieux Montreal Vieux Montreal, the city's Old Town, dates to the 1600s and is made up of several historic districts. Located on the southeastern side of the city on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, cobblestone streets are lined with architectural landmarks such as the Basilique Notre Dame and centuries-old buildings, many of them now home to stylish cafes and trendy boutiques. Address: Old Town Montreal Quebec CAN
It is essential that visitors who want a completely stress free visit should know that French is the dominant language in Montreal. However, Montreal is a diverse city boasting one of the most divers communities in the world. So if you don't speak French, you will certainly find some one who speaks your language.
The taxi fare to and from downtown is a fixed price of $40 (a sticker on the window behind the driver gives the boundaries of the zone where the flat fare applies; for origins and destinations outside this zone, you will have to pay a metered fare). The Aérobus www.admtl.com/passager/acces_et_stationnement/_aerobus.aspx is a shuttle running from Dorval to the aérogare Centre-ville (777 De La Gauchetière, angle rue University) and to the city's inter-city bus station, Station Centrale (505 boul De Maisonneuve East, above the Berri-UQAM métro station), via a number of downtown hotels. It departs roughly every 20 minutes from 7AM to 1AM. Tickets are $15CAD one-way; a return (round-trip) ticket is $25CAD.
Alternatively, public bus number 204 (STM www.stm.info/English/a-somm.htm) leaves from outside arrivals every half hour to Gare Dorval (Dorval train station - check with the driver which direction he is going in, as both bus routes stop at the same pier). From Dorval, you can use your transfer ticket to catch express bus number 211/221 to the Lionel-Groulx métro. Your transfer will then let you into the métro. This costs only $2.75, but exact change must be provided to the first driver.
Another option is to take the VIA Rail AirConnect www.viarail.ca/business/en_affa_airc.html service from the airport terminal to downtown by shuttle and train. This service runs infrequently, but costs only $11. The same trip can be made on the AMT www.amt.qc.ca/tc/train/gares/index.asp?nogare=16 commuter train for $4.25, if you can figure out how get to nearby Dorval Station from the airport, but check the schedule first.
The Montreal region is also served by Plattsburgh International Airport www.flyplattsburgh.com in Plattsburgh, New York, on the U.S. side of the border, about one hour away by car. Domestic US flights to Plattsburgh can be cheaper than international flights to Canada.
For speed and economy, nothing beats Montréal's Métro system for getting around. The stations are marked on the street by blue-and-white signs that show a circle enclosing a down-pointing arrow. Although starting to show its age (the system has run at a deficit in recent years), and recently afflicted with waves of graffiti, the Métro's relatively clean, quiet trains whisk passengers through an expanding network of underground tunnels. In April 2007, the orange line (no. 2 on our map) was extended three stops farther into the north. The new end station is Montmorency, making it the train "direction" you'll see on platforms (instead of Henri-Bourassa).
Fares are by the ride, not by distance. Single rides cost C$2.75 (US$2.40/£1.15), a strip of six tickets is C$12 (US$10/£5.05), and a weekly pass, good for unlimited rides, is C$19 (US$17/£8.15). Reduced fares are available to children and, with special Métro ID cards, seniors and students. Tourist passes are good for short visits: unlimited rides for 1 day for C$9 (US$7.85/£3.85) or 3 days for C$17 (US$15/£7.30). Buy tickets at the booth in any station or from a convenience store.
To enter the system, slip your ticket into the slot in the turnstile or show your pass to the attendant in the booth. If you plan to transfer to a bus, take a transfer ticket (correspondence) from the machine just inside the turnstile; every Métro station has one, and it allows you a free transfer to a bus wherever you exit the subway. Remember to take the transfer ticket at the station where you first enter the system. If you start a trip by bus and intend to continue on the Métro, ask the driver for a transfer.
The Métro runs from about 5:30am to 12:30am. If you plan to be out late, check the website at www.stm.info or call tel. 514/786-4636 for the exact times of the last train on each line.
The Métro is not immune to transit strikes; an action in May 2007 led to reduced hours of operation for several days. And one caveat: Convenient as the Métro is, there can be substantial distances between stations, and accessibility is sometimes difficult for people with mobility problems. For example, to get from the lobby of the centrally located Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel to the platform of the Bonaventure station "directly beneath" takes the equivalent of 3 city blocks and the use of 4 escalators.
Buses cost the same as Métro trains, and Métro tickets are good on buses, too. Exact change is required to pay bus fares in cash. Although they run throughout the city (and give riders the decided advantage of traveling aboveground), buses don't run as frequently or as swiftly as the Métro. If you start a trip on the bus and want to transfer to the Métro, ask the bus driver for a transfer ticket.
There are plenty of taxis run by several different companies. Cabs come in a variety of colors and styles, so their principal distinguishing feature is the plastic sign on the roof. At night, the sign is illuminated when the cab is available. Fares continue to increase, largely due to hikes in gas prices, with an initial charge of C$3.15 (US$2.75) at the flag drop, C$1.45 (US$1.25) per kilometer ( 2/3 mile), and C55¢ (US48¢) per minute of waiting. A short ride from one point to another downtown usually costs about C$6 (US$5.20). Tip about 10% to 15%. Members of hotel and restaurant staffs can call cabs, many of which are dispatched by radio. They line up outside most large hotels or can be hailed on the street.
Montréal taxi drivers range in temperament from sullen cranks to the unstoppably loquacious. Some know their city well, others have sketchy knowledge and poor language skills, so it's a good idea to have your destination written down -- with the cross street -- to show your driver.
Cyclists will be glad to know that several taxi companies participate in the "Taxi+Vélo" (vélo means bicycle) program. Call one of them, specify that you have a bike to transport, and a cab with a specially designed rack arrives. Up to three bikes can be carried for an extra fee of C$3 (US$2.60/£1.30) each. The companies are listed at www.velo.qc.ca (search for "taxi"), or call tel. 514/521-8356.
Montréal is an easy city to navigate by car. Visitors arriving by plane or train, however, will probably want to rely on public transportation and cabs. A rental car can come in handy, though, for trips outside of town or if you plan to drive to Québec City.
Rentals -- Terms, cars, and prices for rentals are similar to those in the United States, and all the larger U.S. companies operate in Canada. Basic rates are about the same from company to company, although a little comparison shopping can unearth modest savings. A charge is usually levied when you return a car in a city other than the one in which it was rented.
All the companies listed here have counters at Trudeau Airport (the local numbers at the terminal are listed here). Major car-rental companies include Avis (tel. 800/437-0358 or 514/636-1902); Budget (tel. 800/268-8900 or 514/636-0052); Hertz (tel. 800/263-0600 or 514/636-9530); National (tel. 800/387-4747 or 514/636-9030); and Thrifty (tel. 800/367-2277 or 514/631-5567).
If you'll be doing much driving in Montréal, pick up the pocket-size atlas by JDM Géo. It's published by MapArt (www.mapart.com) and sold at gas stations throughout Canada.
Gasoline -- Gasoline and diesel fuel are sold by the liter, and are significantly more expensive than in the United States (Europeans will find the prices less of a shock). With recent prices of C$1.15 a liter (US$1/49p), and 3.78 liters to 1 gallon, that comes out to about US$4.35 a gallon. It costs about C$40 (US$35/£17) to fill the tank of a small car with the lowest grade of unleaded gasoline.
Parking -- It can be difficult to park for free on the heavily trafficked streets of downtown Montréal, but there are plenty of metered spaces. Look around before walking off without paying. Meters are set well back from the curb so they won't be buried by plowed snow in winter. Parking costs C$1 an hour, and meters are in effect weekdays until 9pm and weekends until 6pm. If there are no parking meters in sight, you're not off the hook. The city has started to install new black metal kiosks that serve a number of spaces on a street. Look for a column about 6 feet tall with a white "P" in a blue circle. Press the "English" button, enter the letter from the space where you are parked, then pay with cash or a credit card, following instructions on the screen.
In addition, check for signs noting restrictions, usually showing a red circle with a diagonal slash. The words LIVRAISON SEULEMENT, for example, mean "delivery only." Most downtown shopping complexes have underground parking lots, as do the big downtown hotels. Some of the hotels don't charge extra if you want to take your car in and out during the day -- useful if you plan to do some sightseeing by car.
Driving Rules -- The limited-access expressways in Québec are called autoroutes, distances are given in kilometers (km), and speed limits are given in kilometers per hour (kmph). Because French is the official language of the province, some highway signs are in French only, although Montréal's autoroutes and bridges often bear dual-language signs.
One traffic signal function often confuses newcomers: Should you wish to make a turn and you know that the street runs in the correct direction, you may be surprised to initially see just a green arrow pointing straight ahead instead of a green light permitting the turn. The arrow is just to give pedestrians time to cross the intersection. After a few moments, the light will turn from an arrow to a regular green light and you can proceed.
Turning right on a red light is prohibited on the island of Montréal, except where specifically allowed by an additional green arrow. Outside the island of Montréal, it is now legal to turn right after stopping at red lights. The change has caused authorities to put up numerous signs at what they believe to be dangerous intersections specifically prohibiting that move.
Seat-belt use is required by law while driving or riding in a car in Québec province.
Note: Too many of the region's drivers take perverse pride in their reputation as dangerously fast at the wheel and are prone to such maneuvers as sudden U-turns or cutting across two lanes to snare a parking space. Growing indignation at such practices, with newspapers decrying excess speed and the accidents that result from it, doesn't seem to have curbed the behavior. Be aware.
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