June 11, 2013 — Romantic to the core, the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal lead the way to many rare architectural jewels. From heritage sites to contemporary designs, you’ll be carried away by the historical charm of where it all began.
Start your experience with the Notre-Dame Basilica, a neo-gothic architectural masterpiece that majestically rises above Place d’Armes. Discover its rich, decorative woodwork, exquisite stained glass, the dazzling gold-leaf ceiling ornamentation, and its sculpted columns, either as part of a guided tour or on your own.
AlongSaint-Paul Street, gallery owners and designers invite you to delve into their colourfully creative universe. A stop at artisan-jeweller Roland Dubuc’s studio-boutique is an absolute must: he sculpts each work from a single piece, folding, twisting and knotting gold and silver sheets into his trademark complex and elegant designs.
Just a stone’s throw away is les Cours le Royer, an elegant, tree-lined pedestrian thoroughfare complete with park benches and bordered by former factory-stores (1861-1872) turned apartments and office buildings. It’s a great place to stop for a rest before jumping into the city’s rich heritage at the Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal museum of history and archaeology.Built directly upon the very foundation of the first colony, the museum exhibits hundreds of artefacts that retrace the history of the city, from first meetings with the Amerindians until present day.
And when it’s time for a bite, make a stop at Le Cartet, a hybrid gourmet market/restaurant bursting with personality and homemade goodness. Unassuming gray stone on the outside, NY Soho cool on the inside, Le Cartet features long, wooden dining tables for an unusual but charming communal dining experience. Their simple menu is as delicious as it is fresh, featuring daily specials, sandwiches, salads plus some tasty signature favourites. What’s more, you can take Le Cartet with you – shop shelves are piled high with all sorts of epicurean delights.
Make your way towards Place Jacques-Cartier. Always bustling with activity, you could come across street performers, wandering magicians… and locals. There is always something going on or someone passing by!
Old Montréal is synonymous with patrimonial heritage. As you stroll down Saint-Paul Street, you won’t be able to miss the numerous historical buildings, such as the Pierre du Calvet House, the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours chapel, dedicated to sailors, as well as the Marché Bonsecours, deemed as one of the ten most beautiful heritage sites in Canada. The building houses a number of artisan studio-boutiques. This is the ideal place to find a unique gift as a souvenir of your time in Montréal.
Now that you’ve seen Montréal by land, it’s time to see it by sea! Croisières AML Cruises offer excursions aboard the Cavalier Maxim to take in the city’s gorgeous panorama from the majestic St. Lawrence River.
Once back on the island, treat yourself to a cocktail on the Terrasse Nelligan, the beautiful terrace located on the roof of Hôtel Nelligan. Sip, relax and drink in the beauty of your surroundings.
We highly recommend the S le Restaurant, for its refined European-inspired cuisine, its creative menu featuring a variety of local produce, and its magnificent gardens.
To end your day of discovery in grand style, why not treat your better half to a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride throughout the cobblestone streets? The architectural beauty of Old Montréal becomes even more apparent at night, with magical lighting to set the mood. Ask your driver to take you to Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle so that you may admire the fabulous fountain-sculpture, La Joute, where fire and water dance a lively nocturnal ballet around the sculpture.
If you liked your day in Old Montréal and don’t want it to end, why not extend your stay in the neighbourhood and treat yourself to a relaxing spa day? There’s the Hotel Le St-James situated in a former Merchants Bank building, renowned for its jet-set clientele and marble interior, or the Rainspa located in the Le Place d’Armes hotel where the enveloping eucalyptus steam of its hammam offers an exotic escape. Either way, you’re in for a day of blissful pampering!