Detailed description (Old Montreal)
Old Montreal is, as you probably guessed it, the old part of Montreal. It is where the city was born, in fact it's the starting point of many things. Very few of the early buildings (mid 1600) remain, many fires have swept through old Montreal in the early days, but there's still a lot of buildings from different eras. There's a large variety of buildings, of different styles and functions, from public buildings (the old courts, city hall, etc) to more commercial buildings (the old stock exchange, board of trade, etc). Most of the buildings' are from the 17th century to early 20th century, although there are some modern buildings. Those different buildings in old Montreal really represent the evolution of the city.
There are many interesting things to do, mostly visiting museums and historical buildings, walking around and taking in the sights (and eating...). Many family activities take place in the old port : special exhibitions, biking, rollerblading, etc. Most of the activities are held at the King Edward pier in the old port. The Jacques-Cartier pier is mostly used for some special events, there's also a place for lunch and an information desk.
Old Montreal can get very crowded and very touristy during the summer since this part of town is full of tourists, so if you are the type of visitor that want to stay away from the other tourists, better visit old Montreal in the off season or early in the day because it's worth it. But there isn't much going on outside the tourism season (between October and April) so you won't see many people walking in the streets. During the off season, the museums are still open as are the most restaurants and bars (but with limited hours) and there are activities that you can do just during the winter (like skating in the old port for instance).
Old Montreal can be divided in four sections : the Place Jacques-Cartier and the old port, the Place d'Armes, the old financial district (St-Jacques street) and the Pointe-à-Callière section.
The main places to visit are Place Jacques Cartier, in front of the Montreal city hall (Champ de Mars metro station) and Place d'Armes (Place d'Armes metro station further west). The Place Jacques Cartier leads down to the old port where many activities take place. The Place d'Armes is surrounded by great buildings including the Notre-Dame basilica.
N.B. Don't use your car in old Montreal unless you really have to use it, some streets are closed to traffic (Place Jacques-Cartier for example)and on top of it, the streets are not large and often packed with people.
- Surrounding streets :
- McGill street (beaver hall) to the west
- Ville-Marie autoroute to the north
- St-Laurent river to the south
- Berri street to the east.
- Metro stations :
- Champs de Mars (Champ de Mars, City Hall, Place Cartier, Old Port)
- Place d'Armes (Place d'Armes, Notre-Dame basilica)
- Square Victoria (St-Jacques street, World Trade Center)