10 Top Tourist Attractions in Old Montreal

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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Old Montreal

Old Montréal is the most remarkable concentration of 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings in North America. It is the beautiful Parisian style neighborhood between the port and the financial district. Lovingly restored over the decades, Old Montréal is very popular with tourists. It is best explored on foot from the Champ de Mars metro station. The Town Hall and Place Jacques-Cartier are just south of the station, with Rue St. Paul and Rue Notre-Dame leading to more historic sites, first-class restaurants and high-end shopping.

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1 Old Port

Bonsecours ice rink
 

Along the river, close to Marché Bonsecours, is the site of the old port. It was restored at great expense and now has a role as an entertainment and leisure center. Special attractions include a IMAX cinema, a Bell tower reminiscent of Big Ben, and the Montreal Science Center. In the winter, skaters take to an open-air track. From the old harbor a beautiful view of the impressive skyline of Montreal is obtained. Boat tours, including the short but fun 1.5 hour Montreal Historic Discoverers Cruise run from the docks.

2 Basilica of Notre-Dame

Basilica of Notre-Dame
Basilica of Notre-Dame
 

On the Place d’Armes, Notre-Dame Basilica is Montréal’s oldest Catholic parish church, founded in 1656. Its twin towers (69 meters) are impressive, but the amazing interior of the 1829 building is the real highlight. Beautiful woodcarving is the work of Victor Bourgeau and stained glass illustrates the history of Montréal. The Sacré Coeur altar (1982), in the chapel of the same name, consists of 32 bronze panels by Charles Daudelin. The great organ is a Casavant and the recitals held in the church throughout the year are very popular.

A walking tour of Old Montreal, covering all the major highlights in the area, includes free entrance to the basilica. Offered from spring through fall, these tours are a great way to see the sights and learn about the history. Options are 1.5 or 3 hour tours.

Address: 110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal, Quebec

Official Site: https://www.basiliquenotredame.ca/en/

3 Place Jacques-Cartier

Place Jacques-Cartier
Place Jacques-Cartier
 

The gardens of Place Jacques-Cartier stretch from the Old Port to Rue Notre-Dame in Old Montréal. Below Nelson’s Column there is a popular market of arts, crafts and souvenirs surrounded by inviting street cafes and fine 19th century mansions and mansions.

Many historic Montreal attractions are nearby, including City Hallthe Old palace of justiceand the elegant 1705 mansion Chateau Ramezay Museum.

4 Rue Bonsecours

Bonsecours market
Bonsecours market
 

The beautiful Rue Bonsecours, off Rue Notre-Dame, is one of the oldest streets in Vieux-Montréal. It shows a whole range of French architectural styles seen in the 17th to 19th century cityscape of New France. Marche Bonsecours served as City Hall before becoming Montréal’s vegetable market from 1878 to 1963. Today, the building houses a number of interesting shops and boutiques and is a popular spot with tourists. Montreal’s oldest church, the Chapel of Our Lady of Bonsecours, is at the end of the street. Near, Sir George-Etienne Cartier National Historic Site was home to Canada’s first prime minister from 1841 to 1871.

5 Editor’s Pick Pointe-à-Callière, Musée d’archéologie et d’histoire

Pointe-à-Callière, Musée d'archéologie et d'histoire chispita_666 / photo modified
Pointe-à-Callière, Musée d’archéologie et d’histoire chispita_666 / photo modified
 

In the southeast corner of Place Royale in Montréal is the Pointe-à-Callière, the ‘cradle of the city of Montreal’. Place Royale was the heart of French colonial life, its market and its parade ground, until it was transformed in the 19th century with several government buildings. The Musée d’archéologie et d’histoire documents the beginnings of the city by taking visitors underground to the remains of the first foundations. Two plaques and an obelisk, the work of Québécois artists, unveiled in 1894, commemorate the establishment of the French settlement in 1642.

Address: 350 Place Royale, Montreal, Quebec

Official site: https://www.pacmusee.qc.ca/en/home

6 Place d’Armes

Place d'Armes
Place d’Armes
 

The busy square of Place d’Armes is very much in the center of the city. The twin towers of Basilica of Notre-Dame for the public space, as is a historic Bank of Montreal and its small museum. The old seminary of Saint Sulpice, adjoining the basilica, dates from 1685. It is the oldest stone dwelling in a town where most of the buildings were originally built in wood more cheaply and simply. Just west of Place d’Armes, the Palais des Congrès is Montréal’s futuristic convention center. It was built in 1983 over the Ville-Marie highway and is best known for its colorful glass walls.

7 Place d’Youville

Sours Grises
Sours Grises
 

Place d’Youville is another popular public space in Montreal and a starting point for exploring historical sites. At the park, the Montreal Center d’Histoire is housed in the old red-brick fire station (1903) and tells of Montreal’s four centuries of history. Hopital général des Soeurs Grises is a short distance down Rue Saint-Pierre from Place d’Youville. Montréal’s second hospital dates back to 1694, it is where Marguerite d’Youville founded the Congrégation des Soeurs Grises in 1753, the Charity of the Gray Sisters.

8 Rue Saint Paul

Rue Saint Paul
Rue Saint Paul
 

Rue Saint-Paul is Montréal’s oldest street, originally completed in March 1672 as the road between the fort and the Hôtel Dieu, the old hospital. Today it is lined with shops of all kinds. The street takes its name as much from Paul de Chomedey, the pious founder of the city, as from St. Paul the Apostle.

9 Town Hall

City Hall
City Hall
 

Montréal City Hall was designed by Perrault with Napoleon III’s French Empire style in mind. Built between 1872 and 1878, it had to be restored after a fire in 1922.

Dazzling with marble and bronze, the Hall of Fame features a bust of Jacques Viger, Montréal’s first mayor in 1833. It was from the balcony of City Hall that, during his visit to Canada in the summer of 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle uttered his clarion call “vive le Québec libre!” – Long live free Québec. The statement drew an enthusiastic response from the crowds in Place Cartier below, but alarmed the federal government of Canada.

Address: 275 Rue Notre-Dame Est, Montreal, Quebec

10 Shopping

Old Montréal offers a full range of shopping options, with everything from souvenirs to art and designer clothing. Montreal has long been one of Canada’s premier cities when it comes to the fashion industry, with many top designers calling the city home. And while high-end boutiques can be found all over the city, in Old Montréal, small boutiques are tucked away in beautiful historic buildings, making the shopping experience that much more glamorous. Art galleries, many of which feature the work of Canadian artists, are one of the highlights of this district. Souvenir and one-of-a-kind shops are also dotted around the area, and artists and street vendors line narrow pedestrian alleys and plazas.

Where to Stay in Old Montreal for Sightseeing

We recommend these wonderful hotels close to the top locations in Old Montreal:

  • The William Gray: Sophisticated luxury, historic architecture, modern rooms, rooftop terrace, helpful concierge, library.
  • Hotel Bonaparte: mid-range pricing, stylish decor, helpful staff, delicious free breakfast.
  • Hotel Nelligan: affordable rates, near Basilique Notre-Dame, exposed brick and stone walls, free breakfast and parking.
  • Hotel Y Montreal: budget hotel, 2.1 km from Old Montréal, good value, shared and private rooms, communal kitchen and laundry.

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