July 4, 2011 — The very birthplace of this great metropolis, Old Montréal beautifully illustrates the city’s characteristic duality. Heritage buildings nestle comfortably alongside modern architecture and its Museum of History and Archaeology – built upon the very foundation of the first colony – faces a Science Centre that features state-of-the-art interactive exhibitions. Explore a neighbourhood with two “faces” and multiple charms for the entire family.
To start your day off right in the historical heart of Montréal, try the Café-terrasse Chez Catherine, overflowing with delicious eats and traditional Québécois atmosphere. Enjoy generous crêpes, rich pastries, coffee and much more as you soak up Montréal morning sunshine on their summery patio.
After a delicious breakfast, it’s time to explore the old cobblestone streets, starting with a visit to Old Montréal’s neo-gothic architectural masterpiece, the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal. Discover its exquisite woodwork, intricate stained glass, incomparable sculpted columns and gold leaf ceiling mural, either on your own or with a guided tour.
Whether you are visiting in the spring, summer, fall or winter, there is one Montréal address that is magical all year long: Santa’s Montréal workshop, the Noël Éternel boutique. Located on Saint- Sulpice Street, this boutique is dedicated to everything Christmas; resplendent with colourful ornaments, miniature villages and rare collectors’ pieces from the four corners of the globe, this is indeed a wonderland for the young and the young at heart!
To visit Montréal’s history and gain a better understanding of the important events that have shaped the city from the First Nations period, preceding the arrival of Europeans, up until the start of the 20th century, then a stop at the Château Ramezay Museum on Notre-Dame Street East is in order.
Old Montréal offers a lot of possibilities for lunch. Why not try something a little different? Head over to Stash Café on Saint-Paul Street for great Polish eats in a rustic stone décor complete with church pew seats.
Hours of enjoyment; discoveries by the ton! Not a moment will go by that isn’t filled with fun – for you and for the kids – at the Montréal Science Centre on the Quays of the Old Port. Interactive is the name of the game at this high-tech educational funhouse: take a trip to Mars or record your very own television report.
Now it’s time to treat yourself to a ride in one of Old Montréal’s horse-drawn carriages. Rest your feet as you lend your ear to the many anecdotes and historical tidbits provided by your driver as you blithely clip-clop along the cobblestone streets, appreciating the city more and more with every turn of the wheel. Or if you are feeling more energetic, rent a four-person bicycle or paddle-boat, and explore the Quays of the Old Port.
And finally, to wrap up your first day, there’s none other than the Cage aux sports on LeMoyne Street. Enjoy a hearty meal of burgers, ribs, fries and grilled chicken in a casual atmosphere decorated with sport jerseys, memorabilia and flat-screen televisions to catch the Canadiens game during hockey season.
On the program this morning: archaeological treasures that bring the first colony to life before your very eyes at the Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of History and Archaeology. Peruse the many exhibitions that span the six buildings and structures of the museum, and then descend into the basement labyrinth to explore the very foundation of the first colony and the city’s first Catholic cemetery.
Feeling a little peckish after travelling back in time? A charming little resto-boutique-gourmet grocery store named Le Cartet on McGill Street rewards your taste buds with delicious sandwiches, fresh salads and appetizing main dishes, to eat in their ultra-stylish dining room or to take-out.
Canadians are known to be sweet by nature, but have you tried the country’s renowned natural sweetness for yourself? Canadian Maple Delights on Saint-Paul Street East specializes in all things maple – syrup, sugar, gelati, pastries, chocolates, even coffee and tea – and will handily catapult your sweet tooth into saccharine heaven with just one sugary gourmet morsel. Be sure to check out their onsite maple museum to discover more about our national flavour. Or simply stroll along the cobblestone streets that surround Place Jacques-Cartier, perhaps stopping for a caricature portrait as a souvenir? And if you have young children, they will be thrilled to visit the Plush Factory boutique where they can create their very own “Made in Montréal” teddy bear.