Historic Montreal

25 September 2012
Read Time: 1.6 mins

Known as Canada's "Paris of the North," Quebec's largest city, Montreal offers a unique blend of city history and contemporary urban existence. In Vieux-Montreal - Old Montreal - narrow 17th century cobblestone streets lead the way through a host of shops and historical sites. Located on St Lawrence River between the port and Rue St-Antoine, this section of the city has retained both its European influenced elegance and its distinctive rustic charm. Go in warmer weather to discover Old Montreal's intriguing stories at these top historical spots.

 Place Jacques-Cartier

Place Jacques-Cartier
Start with a refreshing drink and get a sense of place in the pretty plaza that was once a bustling marketplace. Place Jacques-Cartier, located in front of Montreal's historic City Hall, now features artists, cafes and restaurants. Enjoy the view of the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal and admire architecture reminiscent of the 1800's, with pitched roofs and small windows designed to combat cold winters. Montreal's oldest monument, the controversial Nelson Monument (Nelson defeated the French in 1805), stands at the top of the plaza, looking towards the city rather than the sea.

The Old Port
Welcoming more than six million visitors each year, Montreal's Old Port offers informative guided historical tours. Located along a 2.5 km stretch of the St Lawrence River, the Old Port features a legendary1920's clock tower and memorial lighthouse, which marks the entrance to the port. Climb 192 steps of The Clock Tower to enjoy stunning views of the St Lawrence River. Enjoy lunch from the unique solar-powered pop-up canteen, Muvbox.

Rue Saint-Paul
Rue Saint-Paul, once Montreal's main street, is the city's oldest street. Despite being populated these days by trendy boutiques and restaurants, Rue Saint-Paul is reminiscent of the old days, displaying signs in French and boasting stone houses and stretches of its original cobblestones. Discover the Bonsecours Market for a clash of the old and the new, and stop by the 300-year old Notre Dame de Bon Secours Chapel for the highest view of Montreal and a glance back to the 17th century.

Centre d' histoire de Montreal
An old fire station near Pointe a Calliere, the founding site of Montreal, in the heart of Place d' Youville is home to the Centre d' histoire de Montreal and as such, holds more than 2000 historical artifacts dating as far back as 1535 AD. Explore Montreal's rich history across three floors of permanent and temporary exhibits, which include Montreal, Five Times and Montreal of a Thousand Faces.

Basilique Notre-Dame
The Basilique Notre-Dame is located on Rue de Notre-Dam West next to Montreal's oldest structure, the Seminary of St Sulpice, built twenty years earlier in 1685. The Basilica boasts Gothis design, a working Casavant organ from 1891 and a bell that prior to its automation took 12 men to ring. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chapel houses culturally, historically and spiritually significant artworks. After dark the story of Montreal is recounted in a spectacular light and sound show.

Xanthe Coward

Xanthe's favourite travel destinations are the Greek Islands, Indonesia, Fiji and Vanuatu. With a background in performing arts, fine food, wine and good times, Xanthe enjoys travel that brings her close to the locals and their leisure activities. Being a theatre reviewer means that Xanthe will always do dinner and a show before checking out the late night city scene and still be up early to find the markets and a decent pot of chai.