Montreal is a wonderful city to explore on foot. It’s got a European feel to it, especially Old Montreal. It’s compact enough that you can see most of the interesting parts of the city in a day or two. And the Metro is quick and easy so everything is in reach if you tire of walking.
I only had a morning to do a winter walking tour. I started in Old Montreal at Hotel Pierre du Calvet, my hotel for three nights – which because of its history (built in 1725) and rooms merits its’ own blog. It location near a beautiful old church, just minutes away from the port and the heart of the district is an ideal base.
My plan was to walk Boulevard Saint Laurent to Mont Royal Avenue and then to return to Old Montreal via side streets. I’d been told the previous day that Boulevard Saint Laurent was the most historically important street in Montreal. It takes you through a series of neighbourhoods – Chinatown, Little Portugal, Mile End and Little Italy. Some of Canada’s famous artists and writers come from here or were heavily influenced by the area – including Irving Layton and Leonard Cohen. Walk along St. Urbain Street and you will be in the old stomping grounds of writer Mordecai Richler (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Solomon Gursky Was Here).
Here’s what I was able to see on a three hour walking tour of Montreal.
Street art is everywhere – if you look for it.
DOORS, WINDOWS and STAIRCASES in MONTREAL
One of the defining features of Montreal is the exterior staircase. There are books devoted to the subject. I think its great fun to wander off the main streets just to look at the design, colour and texture of not only the staircases but the windows and doors. They aren’t afraid of a little colour in Montreal.
I do feel for the old folks who must negotiate the stairs – especially in a Montreal winter.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to see the inside of Notre-Dame Basilica, located in Old Montreal. I walked by the outside of the church and thought why bother? Do I need to spend $5 when I’ve seen a picture on Pinterest.
Yes I do and so do you. I can honestly say it took my breath away and there isn’t a church anywhere in the world that I’ve seen that is quite like it. I asked my daughter to look at the photo – and her comment was – don’t bother me I’ve seen too many churches already. Then she looked at the photograph – not the real thing – and was in awe. And that is how you will feel no matter what your religion is when you step inside.
After walking for many hours you work up an appetite and in Old Montreal there is no shortage of excellent restaurants. Try Les 400 Coups for an inventive take on lunch or Olive and Gourmando for great coffees, pastries and paninis.
Other posts related to Montreal you might enjoy:
- Getting Active in Montreal: 10 Fun Winter Outings
- A Guide to Getting the most out of Your Visit to Montreal
- A First Timer’s Guide to Montreal’s Igloofest
- 36 Fun, Weird & Interesting Facts About Montreal
***Thank you to Tourism Montreal for making this trip possible.***