Vieux Montréal, as it’s known in the native language of Quebec, is a European postcard made real in North America. Along the cobblestoned streets crossing Place Jacques Cartier, it’s easily possible to imagine oneself in Paris.
Wander over to busy St. Paul Street and shop. Bakeries, souvenirs, and a variety of art objects are all for sale. Consider staying at one of the lovely Bed and Breakfast establishments in the area. From there you can easily make your way over to the Bonsecour Market in the morning.
Visiting Place Royal, a former market on the spot that Montreal was founded in 1642, there is a sense of the old European traditions. But there are up-to-the-minute shops and restaurants as well.
You can visit the popular IMAX theater and see a show in French or English, as you prefer. Walk down to the I-Sci science center and take in some of the exhibits, if you’re interested in the most modern sights. Check out the Habitat, an avant-garde housing complex built for the 1967 World’s Fair.
Now that you’ve sampled some of Old Montreal’s modern sights, let’s get back to the traditional.
Want a candlelight dinner while you enjoy the breeze off the nearby St. Lawrence river? No problem. Prefer a dash of lunch at a sidewalk cafe while the mimes entertain you? Equally easy. Enjoy a glass of wine while the jugglers toss flaming torches in the air and catch them with ease.
Stroll over to one of the many sights within Old Montreal, such as the Musée d’Archéologie et d’Histoire (Museum of Archeology and History) at 350 rue Royal. You’ll come away with a rich knowledge of the city’s history. Ancient graves, pieces of Montreal’s original fortification wall, and much more are housed here.
Or, go visit the Notre-Dame Basilica and be awe-struck by the Gothic Revival facade outside or the astounding carvings and sculpture inside. The 7,000 pipe organ will uplift you, while you explore the altar at the top of the spiral staircase, intricately carved with prophets of the Old Testament.
As the light filters in through the stained-glass windows, you can explore the high balcony and get a look at the huge, gilt-topped columns and life-sized sculptures on the crucifix.
Take a tour of the Chapelle de Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, built as a shrine to the city’s sailors. Many a widow has come here to pray for her loved one lost at sea.
Stroll around and visit some of the over 300-year-old houses that still exist here. Down by the river edging the city you’ll see many of them that look out on the port, once one of North America’s most active.
At The Clock Tower catch a tour boat to explore the port from the seaward side. Don’t miss seeing the old City Hall at 275 Notre Dame Street East or the Old Customs House at 400 Place d’Youville.
Located between the downtown business district and the waterfront, Vieux Montréal is easy to find. Just take the Metro (Montreal’s subway) and exit at Place d’Armes or Champ de Mars.