24 hours in Montreal
Written by Sarah Staples Illustration by Fernando Volken Togni
Odd, given its minus 13°C average winter temperatures, but Montrealers are especially fond of their all-weather, buzzing street culture.
The city always finds time for a good old-fashioned street party, and summers are especially bursting with outdoor activity: from rue Crescent’s nightly events during the Formula 1 Grand Prix race in June, to globally renowned annual fireworks, jazz, and stand-up comedy festivals (Just for Laughs is a whistlestop for A-listers including Jerry Seinfeld, and comes with – quelle surprise! – street circus performers and outdoor dancing). Those not in a party mood can quietly explore Vieux-Montréal, part of the once-fortified early city founded in 1642 as Ville-Marie, which today houses trinket shops, galleries, boutique hotels, and terrasses. Or the trend-setting Le Plateau neighbourhood, Montreal’s answer to Greenwich Village. Or several popular covered farmers’ markets selling award-winning Québécois cheeses and traditional duck foie gras. A hike up to the observation areas of Mont-Royal, the city’s namesake mountain dominating the skyline, is another sightseeing must.
Hail one, or call Taxi Diamond, Royal Taxi, or Air Taxi to be picked up at a specific address.
Bixi bikes – a proud Montréalais brand – can be hired by credit card from 400 self-serve stations.
Exploring on foot is safe and pleasant, and several walking tours of the old city by Guidatour depart from Notre-Dame Basilica, est. 1829.
The metro’s four lines are fast and efficient, and there’s a three-day tourist pass available. At weekends, the last train leaves between 00.15 and 1.30.