Montreal is a beautiful French city located in the province of Quebec in Canada. Old Montreal is the oldest part of the city. It has a historical square which is surround by the famous basilica, the old port and stunning colorful lanes. You can visit everything and the downtown area of Montreal in a day. This day trip to Old Montreal was mesmerizing.
Beautiful Heritage. Just beautiful heritage, so French and so elegant.
Montreal has an international Airport – Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, very well-connected to all the major destinations. Air Canada (airways) is headquartered in Montreal.
Montreal is easily accessible via road and railways. It is very affordable and convenient to travel to Montreal from other major cities of Canada like Toronto (5.50 hours) or Ottawa (2.50 hours) or Quebec city (2.75 hours) or even from the United States.
Old Montreal activities for a layover or a day
I ventured on this trip with a very special person – my travel partner and husband 🙂 We arrived in Montreal via Air Canada. We took a cab ride to Old Montreal. The cab fare costs us $30 CAD and we reached Notre Dame Basilica in 20 minutes. There is metro service available to the Basilica from the airport as well.
First Stop: Notre Dame Basilica
Notre Dame Basilica is one of the National Historic Sites of Canada. The Basilica is dedicated to Mother Mary. The Basilica’s Gothic architecture is one of the splendid sights in the world. The structure is constructed of stone and the interior is decorated with golden stars and deep blue colored ceilings. It is filled with hundreds of intricate wooden carvings and religious statues.
Second Stop : Place d’ Armes
Right opposite to the Notre Dame Basilica is Place d’Armes. In the centre of Place d’Armes, lies a monument in memory of Paul de Chomedey, the founder of Montreal. This monument is called Maisonneuve Monument. Its commemorates Chomedey’s defense of the young French settlement against the Iroquois. (The Iroquois or Haudenosaunee are a historically powerful and important northeast Native American confederacy)
Place d’ Armes square is surrounded by other buildings of importance as well like the Saint-Sulpice Seminary (built in 1657), the monument of George III (built in 1773), New York Life Building (built in 1887), Montreal’s first high-rise; the Bank of Montreal head office (built 1859), Canada’s first bank; the Art Deco Aldred Building (built in 1931) and the International style 500 Place D’Armes (built in 1968)
Third Stop : Old Port Montreal
The Old Port of Montreal (French: Vieux-Port de Montréal) is the historic port of Montreal, Canada. It stretches for over two kilometres along the St-Lawrence River in Old Montreal. French fur traders have used this port as a trading post as early as 1611. In 2005, the Old Port of Montreal changed its name to The Quays of the Old Port of Montreal.
Currently, Old Port Montreal or Vieux Port de Montreal attracts millions of visitors each year. Activities like water adventures, spa, shopping, walking tours, boating, photo-shoot are common in the Old Port area.
I loved walking in these areas ~ old French architecture, stories of by-gone days and beauty all around.
This picture below was taken from Old Port. Its called the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (Our Lady of Good Help). It is one of the oldest churches in Montreal, built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel.
Fourth Stop: Saint-Paul Street
For years, Saint-Paul Street was Montréal’s main street. Its a beautiful street with many 19th century warehouses recently renovated to serve as boutiques, artists’ studios, homes. The street is lined with flags and French art and architectured buildings. The street is paved with cobblestone all along.
Fifth Stop: Downtown Montreal
Located about 25 minutes from Old Montreal is Downtown Montreal. We walked through old lanes and reached Downtown in 25 minutes. (Its a 12 minute cab ride, if you do not wish to walk)
Just like any other major Canadian city, downtown Montreal had high rise buildings, manicured lanes, shopping centers, some churches and some monuments.
Here is a picture of us by the Olympic House. You can see the sky-rise buildings too (like the Bean or the Cloud Gate in Chicago 🙂 )
Sixth Stop: Complexe Desjardins
Shopping complex, Complexe Desjardins, is located in Downtown Montreal. This picture is of the shopping mall from inside the building. The day we visited Montreal, Jazz festival – Rio Tinto was going on.
We had an amazing lunch – beer and poutine at Rotisserie St-Hubert. Its located near Complexe Desjardins.
We had an amazing day in Old Montreal. We covered all of this in a span of 12 hours, when we had a flight layover in Montreal. We have plans to re-visit Montreal to cover more of the city.
Take the opportunity to explore, as much as you can;
whenever you can
PIN- Old Montreal activities for a layover or a day