In a city renown for charm and romantic nooks, there is one neighborhood that visitors reference time and gain as their most memorable location: Old Montréal. This historic district of Montréal gives our little city a reputation for being charming and creative, with a European flair rarely found in North America. The cobblestone streets, stunning gothic architecture and epicurean delights have seduced countless travelers.
It really is a “must see” on any visitor’s agenda.
Yet to really understand the charm of Vieux Montréal (as we say en français), it’s helpful to have a brief understanding of the history of the city. Montréal, as a contemporary urban concept, began in May of 1642 with a group of French settlers. The initial central business district began to develop, for logistical reasons, close to the docks along the St. Lawrence River. But as the population grew, Montréal pushed north towards “Mont Royal.”
Despite centuries of urban evolution and natural forces (such as fires and floods), Old Montréal, has maintained its charm. These days, the area is associated less with trade or business (or sailboats stocked with treasures from “the new world”), and more to the pursuit of leisure, good times and inspiring urban experiences.
Much of the action is found along St. Paul Street or in Place Jacques-Cartier, but as you wander through Old Montréal, you’ll find hidden gems tucked into side streets. Also, many of Montréal’s top boutique hotels are located in this area, as are some of the classiest restaurants.
Popular Activities in Old Montréal:
- Shopping at the boutiques and art galleries
- Drinking on a terrace in Place Jacques Cartier
- Montréal Science Centre
- Carriage rides
- Pointe-à-Callière Museum (The History of Montréal)
- Dining in one of the many fine restaurants and bakeries
- Rollerblading or renting Segways
- Watching street performers or musicians
- Pampering at Scandinave Les Bains or Spa Bota Bota
- Seeing the stunning Cathedral Notre Dame
Old Montréal Boundaries
East: Berri Street
West: McGill Avenue
North: Saint Antoine Street
South: The St. Lawrence River
Metro Access: Champ des Mars, Place D’armes, Square Victoria
Photo source: www.old.montreal.qc.ca