Jacques Cartier named this island mountain when he first climbed it in 1535, and today it is a magnificent park, a favoured spot for observing nature and the city. At the foot of Mount Royal, the downtown area is an exciting mix of post-modern office towers, centuries old churches, boutiques and art galleries, and several museums. The Plateau Mont Royal is a hip multi-ethnic district located between Rue Sherbrooke and Blvd St Joseph, with hopping nightclubs, funky shops and droves of eateries. The area’s chief commercial strips are Blvd St Laurent (referred to as ‘The Main’ by locals) and Rue St Denis. In between, are the shaded Carrée St Louis and the busy with restaurants Rue Prince Arthur and Ave Duluth. The area is full of ornate 19th-century Victorian style homes. To the north, Ave Mont Royal is known for its vintage and offbeat clothing stores as well as a jumping nightlife.
Head east along Ave Mont Royal to Parc Mont Royal, Montreal’s biggest and best park. The park was landscaped by the same Frederick Law Olmsted who landscaped New York’s Central Park, and opened to the public in 1876, providing a nature retreat in the middle of the city. Head up to the lookout on top of Mount Royal. From the lookout terrace’s belvederes (French for “viewpoint”) you see downtown Montreal at your feet, a view to the St Lawrence, and beyond to the Monteregian Hills. Sight lines to landmarks are marked. The chalet by the lookout is open days, with bathrooms and snack machines.
There are several restaurants and cafés in the park and you are quite close to downtown Montreal and its many restaurants. The top of Mount Royal is divided between the park and two large cemeteries, the Catholic Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery and the non-denominational Mount Royal cemetery. Together they form a necropolis among the largest in the world, and make for an interesting hunt for historical tombstones..
This major thoroughfare, west of Décarie Boulevard in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district, was once a strictly residential street. The elegant apartment buildings along the Avenue date to the early 1900s and recent renovations integrate ground-floor shops and businesses. Serving an English-speaking and multi-cultural population, the commercial Avenue has grown to accommodate charming boutiques and fine food shops.
Bernard Avenue, in a residential and business zone of Outremont, features turn-of-the-century architecture, with lots of greenery and garden, mixed with boutiques and outdoor cafés.
du Parc Avenue
This residential Avenue turned commercial street is home to the Greek community, its restaurants and pastry shops since the 1950s. The square formed by Mont-Royal, Saint-Joseph, Saint-Urbain and du Parc once served as the provincial exhibition grounds since replaced by rowhouses. The area’s art deco style Rialto movie theatre is popular. Jeanne-Mance Park, a racetrack until 1820, is named in honour of the founder of Montréal’s first hospital.
Place-des-Arts METRO, bus # 80
The mainly French-speaking Laurier Avenue enjoys a delightful array of irresistible French “pâtisseries” and bake shops, selling fine chocolate, cheese and fresh bread. The neighbourhood is also fragrant with the aroma of freshly ground coffee from the area’s cafés, bistros and international restaurants.