July 4, 2011 — Montréal is hands-down one of the best places to visit if you plan to travel alone: it’s safe, fun, the people are friendly and there is a lot to do. Mount Royal – or simply “the mountain”- is definitely a spot that you will want to check out. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, of New York’s Central Park fame, the park is Montréal’s largest green space and highest point at 234 metres; it’s a tranquil natural refuge from urbanity, offering a variety of activities for all seasons. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your time on the mountain.
Work your way up from the bottom or start at the top and meander your way down: either way, you’ll be treated to fabulous views of Montréal and a pleasing variety of flora and fauna.
Podcasts are also available to download from the official Mount Royal web site: they propose different routes and unveil various “treasures” along the way, from artwork to historical landmarks and monuments to natural elements to the best vantage points. They are interesting and helpful!
Located smack-dab in the middle of the city, this 4-season playground is a fave spot for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes alike: the network of paths that wind their way around the mountain are ideal for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (which you even can do my moonlight, if you are so inclined!). Furthermore, Beaver Lake offers fun for all at any time of year, with paddleboats and picnic areas in the summer, ice skating in the winter and equipment rental and restaurant services all year long. Be sure to stop at the Chalet for the best lookout on the mountain. On a clear day, you can see clear across to the Adirondack Mountains!
If you are in the mood for something tranquil, the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery on the mountain’s north slope is a wonderful place to stroll and reflect. Just across you’ll find the impressive Saint Joseph’s Oratory, a famous pilgrimage site with a commanding view of Montréal that also features beautiful gardens and free organ concerts on Sundays.
If you are around on a summer Sunday, then hang with the locals at the Tam-tams: a weekly get-together to celebrate life to a tribal beat. Pack a picnic – you could also take a book, but with all the characters that come out to play, you may not get much reading done!
If you didn’t pack a lunch to enjoy while on the mountain, then why not try one of the many bistros along Laurier Avenue West? That way, you’ll be rested up and proximate to a myriad of fabulous shops. Laurier is known for its quaint, upscale boutiques, notably for gourmet food stores and exclusive kitchenware. To get there, simply walk north on Du Parc Avenue until you reach Laurier Avenue.
Montréal has a lot to offer when it comes to great food. From fine cuisine to little bistros, you’ll surely find something to whet your appetite.If you have a weakness for classic French cuisine, Leméac on Laurier Avenue is the place for you. Elegant and welcoming, this bistro proposes a menu of simple, fresh fare with a twist. Be sure to round out your dining experience with a good vintage, a plate of Québec cheeses and a homemade dessert, such as their incredible lemon pie.