Montreal Old City leaves me speechless
The Old City of Montreal left me a little speechless. It was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, but I feel like it is hard to describe for some reason. Perhaps it is because I feel pressure to come up with something unique instead of describing it as quaint, charming, just like being in France, la-di-da that hundreds of other travel writers before me have gushed. Nothing wrong with those outpourings as they are spot on.
Another reason perhaps could be because I am used to writing about outdoor adventure. When I am in the wilderness there is never a paucity of things to write about. When I was in Big Bend National Park there was that time I did not bring enough water, and I crossed a large open portion of desert in 100 degrees with my backpack. I have no problem telling that story and then throwing in a few photos to split up the narrative. There was also that time in Gatineau just a few days before visiting Montreal when I skied for over six hours in sub zero temperatures and got a few spots of frostbite on my face for good measure. I have no problem telling that story. Nor do I have a hard time telling about hiking with bears in the Appalachians.
Fortunately for me, Montreal has some options for winter adventure that are a mere 20 minute half hour walk from downtown. Mount-Royal Park is just a half hour walk from downtown where you can ski, snowshoe, and ice skate in the winter and hike and bike in the summer. Then there is Park Jean-Drapeau only a few metro stops from downtown that also has nice skiing and snowshoeing.
Highlight was the Montreal Old City
The most beautiful part of Montreal though is the Old City. The first day I was in Montreal I had a three hour city tour. The first place we visited was the beautiful Old City. Notre-Dame Basilica was the first stop and then we spent time on Rue St. Paul before heading to the already mentioned city parks for the rest of the tour.
I would be back on my own to explore the Old City a little deeper. I returned to go inside Notre-Dame and spend several minutes gawking at the beautiful stained glass windows and the amazing interior decoration. The lighting was just spectacular inside. It is well worth the five dollar entrance fee.
Then I ventured out on to the cobblestone streets of Rue St. Paul. The lighting along the street was soft and inviting as night grew near. The only street lights are quaint lamps. The lack of street light accentuates the light that comes from store windows. There is also lights on the building that shine upward and illuminate the building but not the street. There are no ultra light neon lights here or bright street lights to wash out the view. A few glimmering lights hang over the street, but they add to the aura.
Chicago is a beautiful city, but there is nothing even remotely similar to the Old City in Montreal. It was an awesome experience walking between old stone buildings dating back to the New France. You definitely get the feeling that you are in Europe even though it was quite cold and the ground was covered with a couple feet of snow.
The best part about coming in winter is practically having the Old City to yourself. Plus there are awesome winter activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing within minutes of the Old City. There were times I was the only person on a given street, which made for easy photography and a laid back quiet atmosphere you don’t get in big cities that often.
While I did not catch frostbite on any of my walks, I did not ski for over six hours in Montreal, I did not lack for water, and I did not run in to any bears, I did enjoy just soaking up the ambiance of the Old City. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
My trip was partially sponsored by the Quebec and Montreal Tourist Bureaus. My hotel and certain activities were complimentary. The thoughts, photos, and opinions are my own.
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You have me absolutely sold on Montreal! I’ve wanted to visit forever but you sealed it.
Definitely go. I could live in Montreal.
I’ve been meaning to visit Montreal for several years. As a Francophile, it’s a good way to get my fix without going to France. However, it looks like there’s so much more I’d love.
Leah recently posted..Three Reasons to Visit Lanai
It is nice only crossing one time zone to get to such a beautiful city.
Looks a little different, renovations?… oh, no it was the winter…. my time in the city has always been in the crowded warmer days…. nice to see the stillness and peacefulness of Montreal….. Ted, you are always making me one step closer to planning another winter weather holidays, although I wonder if Mexico would get too jealous
stay montreal on my mind, craig
Craig Zabransky recently posted..Refresh in the Waters of Matacanes Canyon, Nuevo León
I am sure Montreal is a cool place to visit any time of the year.
I think Montreal is a gem in the winter – cold but romantic; beautiful and compelling. I’d go back again and ski, skate and eat at wonderful restaurants in a heartbeat.
Leigh recently posted..A Visit to Sanibel Island, Florida – The Good and the Bad
I could not describe it any better myself.
Now this place is indeed worth visiting. I have a weakness for the classics, this is why Montreal definitely fits the bill! I’m sure that when I finally get to be there, it will even more validate the reason why I’ve always wanted to visit in the first place.
I am sure you would love it.
Montreal is beautiful. It’s been on my list for a while now. Looks very appealing in the winter, although I think I’d prefer summer.
Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..How I Find Trip Planning Success
Now that I have been in the winter, I would love to visit in the summer or fall as well. Although, I would also love to return in the winter.
One of my favorite places I have never been to! I expect to rectify that this summer. Beautiful photos.
Jonathan Look, Jr. recently posted..Sacrifice and Life Among the Hill Tribes of Laos
I hope you get a chance to visit this summer Jonathan. It is a great city.
Montreal didn’t feel as European to me as I had expected (after all, I’m European and have pretty high expectations, haha…). The old part was great, no doubt about that, but I didn’t like how it sort of ended abruptly. You could cross the street and be in a different world – that of very average-looking skyscrapers of the financial area. That was a let down. Still, I liked the city enough to consider another visit (bagels!).
Pola (Jetting Around) recently posted..One year of JA CafÃ©: Travel Talk Over Coffee
Thanks for the thought provoking comment. The interesting thing about Montreal is the point you made. It has this duality between English/French, European/new world, modern/old world world, cultural/financial. Since I was there in winter, Montreal seemed more Scandinavian than French due to the snow and winter adventure activities, which is still European, but not the classic French European than many think of when the picture Montreal and Quebec. I have heard the French influence is deeper in Quebec CIty. I would love to find out.
Snow makes Montreal look even more stunning! The city seems to have a blend of old-world and urbane charms.
It definitely was cool to visit during the winter. I now hope to return sometime and see the difference in the summer.