Montréal’s neighbourhoods have something for everyone – and every event
Without question, Montréal is one of North America’s most unique big cities, blending old world charm with a modern flourish. But beyond the city’s particular charm as a whole, Montréal is just as distinctly a city of neighbourhoods – each one individual in its own right. We’ve compiled a quick look at some of our most intriguing centrally located districts, but first a preface.
While Paris has arrondissements, New York has boroughs and Berlin has bezirke, here in Montréal our neighbourhoods are denoted by the term quartier. Those with a capital-Q are some of the city’s most bustling districts, home to enterprise and entertainment, while the small-q areas are more residential in nature. That’s not to say the residential zones don’t have some of the city’s coolest venues or that the big-Q spots don’t have their own character and flavour – it’s just our way of differentiating.
Quartiers with a capital Q
Based between Old Montréal, the Quartier des spectacles and the Cité du Multimédia, the Quartier International is home to the Palais de congrès de Montréal, the city’s convention centre. With easy links to the heart of Montréal both new and old, this district is a favourite location for some of the city’s biggest events.
Quartier des spectacles
Montréal’s entertainment district borders on Chinatown and includes some of the city’s busiest shopping streets, but most importantly is also home to the mammoth Place des Arts. Including the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Opéra de Montréal and the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, the Place des Arts is the crown jewel in Montréal’s premiere arts district.
Quartier de l’innovation
This “living laboratory” reaches from René-Levesque Boulevard to the Lachine Canal, between McGill Street and Atwater Avenue, and is home to more than 400 businesses and 250 start-ups. Nick-named the QI, this neighbourhood was created under the guiding hands of McGill University, the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and Concordia University to showcase Montréal’s spirit of innovation and creativity.
A gateway between Old Montréal and the Plateau quartier, the Quartier Latin is a vibrant home base to French Canadian culture and learning. UQAM is based here, as is the Cinémathèque Québécoise, the perfect place to explore film history both from Québec and around the globe. Busy Saint-Denis Street, one of the city’s biggest shopping thoroughfares, cuts right through the neighbourhood.
Montréalers hold fond memories of the city’s 1976 Olympic games, and the neighbourhood built up around the Olympic Stadium is every bit as exciting as it was then. The Parc olympique also features Montréal’s Espace pour la vie, including the Biodôme, Botanical Garden, Insectarium and Planetarium.
Les Quartiers du canal
Built up on the banks of the Lachine Canal, the historic neighbourhoods of Little Burgundy, Saint-Henri and Griffintown make up the Quartiers du Canal. With some of the city’s newest venues and hippest spaces, it’s an area for those in the know – and perfectly suited for your next cutting-edge event.
Notre-Dame and Sainte-Hélène Islands
Built for Expo67, these islands in the Saint Lawrence River are home to more than just the leafy expanses of Parc Jean-Drapeau. A closer look reveals a host of surprise locales including the Biosphère, the Casino de Montréal, La Toundra and the Pavillon de la Jamaïque.
The local flavour of the residential quartiers
Old Montréal and the Old Port
History comes alive in one of the city’s most touristed areas and rightfully so – Old Montréal is one of North America’s most beautiful districts. But within those grand edifices are some of the city’s most forward-looking and modern host locations, including the Phi Centre and the Pointe-à-Calliére.
Montréal’s commercial centre isn’t all business – there’s plenty to see and do alongside the glass towers. With locations like the Espace C2 atop the Fairmount The Queen Elizabeth and the Observatoire Place Ville Marie giving a birds eye view over the city, everything goes up when you head downtown.
The Gay Village
One of the biggest and oldest gay villages on the planet, Montréal’s village is a living, breathing microcosm that’s as fun and vibrant as the rainbow flags lining its streets. The keyword here is welcoming.
One of the city’s largest residential areas is also one of the most quintessentially Montréalaise. Characteristic staircases, cafés, arts venues and brightly hued houses make for a neighbourhood that’s simultaneously serene and evocative.
Noted as one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods, the Mile End is more than just the unmissable hip boutiques and on-point restaurants that line its streets. Some of Montréal’s oldest businesses still operate here (for example making the city’s beloved bagels) and their independent spirit holds strong influence over the quartier.
Mount-Royal and Outremont
The paired quartiers of Mount-Royal and Outremont combine the influence of the area’s Jewish population with a distinctly New York City vibe – albeit one that’s entirely Montréal’s own. Grand old houses, theatres, eye-popping shopping and mouth-watering eats show off just how well Montréalers have figured out life and how to live it.
Built up around the Jean Talon Market, Little Italy’s the ideal spot for the gourmande. Upstart modern venues like the LGBTQ+ arts centre Never Apart serves up an altogether different side of Montréal.
The rapidly-changing quartier of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve still holds on to the neighbourhood’s working class roots, its shopping streets lined with new shops and restaurants opened by eager locals. With boundaries reaching to the Saint Lawrence River and a history stretching back to Montréal’s very first days, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve offers a slice of the city all its own.
Read this next: RÉSO: Things are looking up when you look down in Montréal