Relatively close to the heart of Montréal, at the foot of the hill "Mont Royal" and by the "avenue du parc", is one of the biggest parks in the city. On weekends, the Parc du Mont-Royal is the kingdom of the rasta, the hair of every color, martial arts, juggling, picnics, sunglasses and outdoor sport. Although you can find this kind of environment in cities, this is on a very large scale, hundreds of people spend hours of their weekends in the Mont-Royal. But that's not all, there is also the gothic-medieval phenomenon. A clearing in the forest with a dirt floor, surrounded by trees is the scene of battles between medieval crowd of all ages, with shields and swords hand made with soft materials such as foam, faced against each other as a way of fun. Something very strange to see. The southern part of the park, down the avenue (avenue du parc), has a large baseball field, a large soccer field and volleyball nets some bowl on a green grass very bright.
When I lived in this beautiful Canadian city, the Vieux Montréal area was definitely my favorite area. Notre-Dame, which the Spanish called Cathedral of Heaven, with a starry sky infused with incredible peace. That sad candle on the floor with a great message. The light on in the old market where the European immigrants passed through. Those contrasts between the light of the lamp and the window were amazing. Or the changing of the leaves in autumn with its beautiful, contrasting colors, are images that remain burned into the memory of the people who visit it.
The Montreal Botanical Garden is located in the north of the city. We came by bike (With Bixi service, it takes about 40 minutes from the centre, and we stopped halfway). It's a huge garden where you can easily spend the whole day, and there are plenty of designated picnic areas. Within you can find different areas: 1. Japanese garden area, with small houses containing activities aimed at the public. 2. Green houses with species from ecosystems from around the world. 3. Museum of the Indigenous Canadian people. 4. Garden area, containing Canadian species which are basically the same as in Europe.
This was a strange visit, to be sure. It's a place of worship for many Canadians, which we saw upon our arrival. The exterior is stunning and even a bit austere. There are so many stairs that go up and down that a few pilgrims went up and down on their knees to show their devotion. This feeling of coldness disappears when you get to the chapels with plenty of hanging rods, demonstrating cures that have taken place there. Entry is free and the whole atmosphere is memorable. Perhaps if I had gone alone I wouldn't have visited it, but as the trip was organized beforehand, it's what we did.
Very near Saint Denis Avenue is the Jean Talon market. It is an outdoor market that is open every day and sells all kinds of vegetables, fruit, plants and flowers. The produce is spectacularly presented.
The Mont Royal Park offers several viewpoints from which visitors can admire the city. In winter, one of the most accessible is the Belvedere, which can be reached by car (beware that parking is not free), or by bus line 11 from the Montroyal metro stop (a bus every half hour). From the parking lot (across from the cemetery) it's just a 10 minute walk to get to a great big house and terrace from which you can see much of the city of Montreal, with its skyscrapers, and Saint Laurent as a central point of interest. A good alternative to the other viewpoints you'll find elsewhere in the area.
If you visit the old town, the "Vieux Montreal", you'll come to the shore of the St. Lawrence, along the street "Rue de la Commune". I advise you to take this opportunity to explore the docks and its various attractions. If you go in the spring or summer, you could try some adventure sports or take a cruise, and in winter you can use the skating rink by Bonsecours Hall, Commune Street up to the north, or head to the palace of science, going to the south (the palace is more for children, with games and fun experiments). Right now (winter / spring 2012) Cirque du Soleil has just been installed on the banks of the Saint Laurent, in the group's hometown. In short, taking a stroll along this street and the waterfront is a nice way to get away from the city noise, and enjoy a variety of different activities!
Yes, it's true that the Montreal Metro exists, but I don't know if you can call them "underground hallways" because what's down there is immense: Huge shopping centers. Three floor fountains. Restaurants. Bars and it's quite possible that people haven't heard of it because it's only in the center of the city and due to the poor underground network that the city connects the central stations of the same. What surprised me is that I can go up an escalator and suddenly appear in a crowded store :)
Drink Bubble Tea in Chinatown in Montréal. "Bubble tea" is one of the things I miss most when I'm in Europe. Despite its Thai origin, it's a popular beverage in North America that is often bought to go at Asian food establishments. Despite its name, "bubble tea", has no bubbles or even tea most of the time. This is a smoothie-like beverage that can come in different flavors (lychee, kiwi, strawberry, coconut ...) with a milk base, and sometimes tea and black tapioca pearls are added. These pearls, little black balls, are what make bubble tea such a special drink, as they have a very strange texture similar to gum and are sucked up from the bottom of the glass with a particularly thick straw that the balls pass through one by one. When you catch one of these balls, you have to chew it for awhile while still sipping on the rest of the drink. I discovered it by chance in a mall in Ottawa, in a "fast-food" Japanese place without any particular interest in it, and I started trying it in different parts of Canada and the United States. But without a doubt, the most authentic one I've tasted was from China Town in Montréal. There are different addresses and places where you can get bubble tea in Montreal and there are chains (such as "Bubble Tease") but the one seen in the pictures is a place with only Chinese customers and although the place may look a little dodgy it's worth it for the genuine experience. The place is called L2 and you really have to know where to find it since it used to be an internet cafe and the bar appearance is a bit disguised. It's number 71 on the Via De La Gauchetière Ouest, which runs perpendicular to Saint Laurent (Main Street China Town Montréal). The door of the store is in front of a small Chinese temple and you can recognize that it's L2 from the posters of bubble tea on the wall. You need to open this door and go up a flight of stairs. Once there, it's best to try and communicate with the waiters with hand gestures since fluent English and French don't seem to help.
It's strange to say that a project of such ambition has been such a failure for this Canadian city, having generated multiple debts and problems that are only just beginning to be solved. On the plus side, the public space around it really is beautiful, and you can do some fun things in the area, like visiting the botanical gardens. But the construction suffered from a number of technical problems. First, it wasn't ready for the 1976 Olympics, because construction workers went on strike. While the work was halted, the tower caught fire and had to be restored later.
Ten years later, the work was finally finished, but the roof of the initial design had collapsed under the weight of ice and snow in a harsh winter, and had to be replaced. Following stumble after stumble, today it has been modified slightly in size and structure, and is the setting for some sporting events and presentations. You can take a tour of the different rooms or climb the tower to overlook the city and its surroundings, but honestly, my favourite part was the space outside the complex.
The Montreal Jazz Festival takes place from San Juan to mid-July. In the Place des Spectacles Quartir there are concerts every afternoon for three weeks. Some concerts that have less "cache" are free but you need to buy tickets for the best known bands. If you are interested, check out the website as it lists all of the artists who are visiting the festival.
La Fontaine Park is the perfect place to relax near the city center of Quebec. Personally, I think of it like a natural lounge and my ideal place for a nap in the sun after ice skating in Rachel Park. It's a place for walking, jogging, biking, skating on the frozen lake in winter, and even sunbathing in the summer. It's a park with a thousand faces and a thousand uses: there's a pond, a fountain, a theater, a bowling alley, and areas to play golf or baseball. All in all, a great place for a quiet afternoon and located just a few minutes' walk from the Berri-UQAM Metro Sherbrooke.
I knew about the Biosphere a few months before they opened their facilities to the public as an environmental museum. The giant sphere, located in a beautiful natural environment, St. Helena Island, was a former World's Fair pavilion (Montreal, 1967). The sphere was designed by the architect/engineer Buckminster Fuller, famous for his geodesic domes. It worked for many years as a purifying and research center related to water. Currently the Museum is free for children under 17 years. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00.
This island is part of the Hochelaga Archipelago. We saw some strange things, like a Biosphere and the remnants of the exposition of 1967, and, of course, the marmots preparing for winter. Not a place to go specifically but interesting to see, at least in good weather.
One might have thought that in some plaza there were fountains that only pump out water, but not in Montreal. There's a place that also had fire as an additional component. Jean Paul Riopelle Square was almost just in front of our hotel, Le Dauphin, and its uniqueness we all went to take photos. A sculpture called The Joute, is surrounded by water and a fire ring. Apart from this it's the most beautiful part of the square, where we can find 11 different species of Canadian trees among the 88 that are planted. The water and fire shows are held at determined times.
On my trip to Montréal, Canada, I couldn't miss a trip to Mont Royal. Aside from going up onto the platform from where you have beautiful views of the city and the river, my other goal was to reach the Beaver Lake (although apparently there are no beavers, the name was given because back when it was built, they found beaver dams). However, we were disappointed when we went there because it's under construction! So there is no water, but lots of land ... Still, I've seen pictures that where there is water and it is an ideal place to spend some time chatting on the grass!
I didn't really have any picture in my mind of what Montreal would be like before I went there. So when I saw this building, I had no idea that it was the city hall ... in fact, it seemed more like a palace. It was night, and it was all lit up, and truly spectacular. If you are staying in the area, the city hall is very close to the Place Jacques Cartier, if not, you will be very close if you get off at the Champs du Mars metro station.
For me, Montreal is one of the most beautiful cities - free and peaceful, it's a place where industrialization and modernity mingle with tradition. It's a vibrant, cosmopolitan community where newcomers are welcomed with a warm handshake.
Of all the things to do in Montreal, a tour of the Oratory of Saint Joseph, whose dome is the second largest after that of St. Peter's Basilica, should top the list. This basilica is located on Mont Royal, a mountain in the park of the same name which also happens to be one of the most beautiful places to visit in Montreal.
Also within the park is a lookout where you can find great views of the city. If you are lucky enough to travel in summer, one of the best things to see in Montreal is Beaver Lake, also located within Mont Real park. People come to picnic in the sun, one of the favorite Montreal activities among locals, and spend the day by the lake.
Like every good city, Montreal also has its own Chinatown and Italian neighborhood. But one of the most interesting attractions in Montreal is the Biosphere, an environmental museum that's particular striking because of its round shape.
No list of what to do in Montreal would be complete without a visit to Old Montreal, the historic city center with old buildings and cobblestone streets. Of the many Montreal attractions, the old city is perhaps the most popular among tourists. For more great stuff to do in Montreal, have a look at the reviews and recommendations of the minube community and discover all the best sights to see.