July 4, 2011 — “A little slice of Europe within North America” is often how travelers describe Montréal, and nowhere is this Euro-flair more apparent than in the city’s most historic district. Vieux-Montréal (or Old Montréal) is located on the banks of the massive St. Lawrence River and is characterized by its quaint cobblestone streets and enchanting 19th century architecture. It is full of history and potential adventures.
A great way to get a sense of the area is a stroll down charming Saint-Paul Street. Begin at Place Jacques-Cartier and check out the circus-like buskers and street artists. Start strolling west along Saint-Paul Street. Browse through an art gallery or designer boutique, and take note when reaching Saint-Laurent Boulevard (also known as “The Main”), the significant street that divides Montréal into east and west.
Keep your eyes peeled for the unassuming exterior of Le Cartet, a scrumptious gourmet market/restaurant that you definitely don’t want to miss! Grab a seat along a long, wooden table and strike up a conversation with your neighbour over fresh-from-the-oven muffins and pastries and bottomless Illy coffee, or take some to go as you continue on your Old Montréal trek. This place serves up a mean weekend brunch, too.
From here, turn south to De la Commune Street and walk east, in the same direction that the river flows. History buffs might be interested in popping into Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, which continues to chronicle Montréal’s evolution in an educating and entertaining fashion. Did you know that the city’s first executioner was a gay drummer stationed with the French garrison in 1648? Montréal has been gay for centuries!
If chemistry is more your subject than history, then the Montréal Science Centre might elicit the inner Mad Scientist. Visitors of all ages can get a glimpse of how science and technology are being used to build their future – the IMAX Theatre is always a great option should the weather not be cooperating.
Finally, if your feet are weary, then a eucalyptus steam bath or a couple’s massage at Scandinave Les Bains (located on De la Commune Street) is exactly what the doctor prescribes to get you back en forme for the dance floor.