Vieux-Montreal, also known as Old Montreal, is, as its name suggests, the oldest area of Montreal, dating back to the New France era. Old Montreal is also considered one of the oldest urban areas of North America, drawing worldwide attention for its 17th century architecture, museums and archeological remains. As you make your way through Old Montreal, some key attractions to explore include Bonsecours Market, a two-storey domed public market housing outdoor cafes, fine boutiques and restaurants. Take in the city’s incredible architecture with landmarks like Montreal City Hall, Bank of Montreal and the Former Commissaries Building that make up the Montreal skyline. And if you need a break from the big city and its 17th century architecture and cobblestone streets, spend a day at the Old Port of Montreal, where the Montreal Science Centre (IMAX Theater included), Montreal Clock Tower and riverfront offers tourists and locals alike endless outdoor activities, perfect for those visiting with young ones. Cycling, pleasure boating and roller-blading are just some of the popular outdoor activities to be enjoyed off the Lachine Canal.
Located in the historic district of Old Montreal, Notre-Dame Basilica is an ecumenical tour de force. Originally built as a chapel in 1672, Notre-Dame has since grown to a full-size basilica. The exteriors are reminiscent of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, thanks to the basilica’s twin bell towers and Gothic Revival architecture. Inside, Notre-Dame is considered to be one of the most opulent and dramatic basilicas in the world. Words fail to describe the intricate details of each wooden carving, statues and religious ornaments. The interiors are quite colorful with lively stained glass windows and hues of green, blue, red and yellow composing the main vibrant elements of the basilica’s color scheme. Truly grand in its size, Notre-Dame is a must-see Montreal landmark, if only seen from the exterior. But don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to experience Notre-Dame in its entirety. Both individual and group tours are offered at Notre-Dame and for those wanting to experience the full splendor of the religious establishment, Mass is held daily at Notre-Dame.
Along with the Old Port of Montreal, Mont Royal Park is one of the premiere, as well as the largest green space attraction in Montreal. Outdoor amenities include two belvederes, the prominent one being Kondiaronk, Beaver Lake, ski slope, sculpture garden and hosts a variety of other cultural and tourist activities. Mont Royal Park offers lush forestry as well as athletic fields in the adjoining Jeanne Mance Park. Don’t let the snow and cold of Montreal’s infamous winters keep you away from enjoying all the outdoor activities Mont Royal Park has to offer. Hills and vallies are transformed into ski slopes where nearly every visitor can partake in almost all winter sports. If visiting in the summer, you can find locals partaking in the Tam Tam Jam in Mont Royal Park. Listen to the hand-beaten drums in front of Sir Georges-Etienne Cartier statue, where people of all backgrounds come together to celebrate summer and the various cultures that make Montreal such a diverse and unique city.
Arguably one of the chicest cities in North America, Montreal is home to trendy boutiques and European stores not found in the US. No matter what your personal style may be, Montreal’s endless shops offer something for every stylish man or woman. Blank is a popular boutique, where clean silhouettes and basic, well-made clothes are staple items among Blank’s selective inventory. Aquascutum, a Britian-based label, is a favorite line amongst the most fashionable residents of Montreal. If classic, tailored clothing is what you’re looking for, be sure to stop in Acquascutum’s Montreal boutique located just east of Montreal Rue St. Catherine shopping district. And no shopping spree would be complete without a visit to Rue St. Catherine. Roots, Zara and Puma are just some of the international chains you will find on Rue St. Catherine. Ogilvy’s is the crowning jewel in the shopping district. Now comprised of several boutiques, rather than a single department store, Ogilvy’s is the best place to find boutiques unique to Montreal.