Experience Montréal on foot

Experience Montréal on foot

Walking is a favoured way to get around the densely packed downtown and the narrow streets of Old Montreal, especially during the warmer months.

However, beware during the winter months, because sidewalks can be icy and extremely hazardous after winter snow and ice storms. Winter boots with good grip are essential for surviving pavements that have not been cleared. Beware also (as much as you can) of thawing ice falling from overhanging balconies and roofs. But you can always take the stairs down to Montreal's famous "Underground City" (Montréal souterrain), called RÉSO www.stm.info, a network of pedestrian corridors connecting Métro (subway) www.stm.info/English/metro...stations, shopping centres, and office complexes.

Jaywalking is widespread and rarely punished. However, be aware that drivers will usually not stop or slow down if a pedestrian steps out in front of them, even at marked crosswalks. At an intersection, however, a pedestrian will have right of passage before turning traffic and most drivers respect this. Despite Montreal drivers' reputation for aggressiveness, they generally respect pedestrians.

Saint Catherine Street (Rue Sainte-Catherine) is Montreal's main commercial artery and busiest pedestrian thoroughfare. The "Underground City" and the Green Line (or line 1) of Montreal's Metro is easily accessible from all the major office complexes, shopping malls, department stores, and theater complexes that line it. Smaller chain stores and restaurants also vie for valuable commercial space.

Well-kept historic churches with green space provide quiet oasis and contrast with the giant neon signs of strip clubs. Major hotels generally can be found one or two blocks north and south of Saint Catherine in the downtown core.

Bars, restaurants, and dance clubs cluster within a block of Saint Catherine around Crescent and Bishop streets, catering to a mostly English-speaking clients in the west. Saint Denis Street (Rue Saint-Denis), further east, and the Gay Village between Berri and de Lormier even further east are mostly French-speaking.

McGill College Boulevard in the downtown core from Saint Catherine Street offers an open view of Mount Royal to the North and an impressive view of the Place-Ville-Marie skyscraper to the south. Keep your head up and beware of following the flow of the crowd on this street: throngs of pedestrians often walk across cross streets against red lights, risking life and limb.

Prince Arthur Street (Rue Prince-Arthur), east of Saint-Laurent, is pedestrian only. Another pedestrian-only locale is Montreal's Chinatown, situated on Rue de la Gauchtiere between Saint-Urbain and Saint-Laurent.

A good trick for navigating downtown Montreal is to remember that streets slope up toward Mount Royal, which is just north of downtown and easy to see from most locations. The districts surrounding downtown Montreal are especially delightful by foot.

To the south is Old Montreal (Le Vieux-Montréal) — its narrow streets and buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries really can make you feel like you're in Old Europe — and the Old Port (Le Vieux-Port), a waterfront strolling park with exhibits and boat tours, is very popular with the locals.

To the north, the Golden Square Mile and the McGill University Campus is wedged between Mount Royal and Sherbrooke Street on the southern slope of the mountain. Old Victorian mansions and townhouses can be found along the sloping streets, many now housing McGill University's offices and libraries.

Just west of downtown is affluent Westmount, a perfect example of 19th-century English-style homes and gardens (inhabited to a great extent by English-speaking people) climbing the slopes of Mount Royal's western part (the higher you climb, the larger the old mansions).

Just east and northeast of downtown are the mostly French-speaking Gay Village (Le Village Gai) and Plateau (Plateau Mont-Royal) districts. Street after street displays turn-of-the-19th-century row duplexes and triplexes, replete with famous Montreal outdoor staircases, overflowing front gardens (or snow-covered gables, depending on the time of year), and tiny shops tucked into every nook and cranny. For people who like to see a culture where it lives, Le Plateau is the place to wander about in.

Mount Royal (Mont-Royal) is also accessible from the urban core by foot. Fit pedestrians can climb Peel Street (Rue Peel) to the southern edge of the park. A series of renovated staircases will take you directly to the Chalet near the top of the mountain, with its classic view of the downtown core. A more leisurely climb to the top awaits those on Olmsted Road (6.5 km), a wide, gently sloping bike and foot path accessible from the Plateau in Parc Jeanne-Mance (also known as Fletcher's Field). Smaller foot paths serendipitously branch off from this road. A cross-country ski path also winds to the top in the wintertime. Mount Royal's park was designed by Frederick Olmsted , an architect who lived from 1822 to 1903 and was also responsible for the design of Central Park in New York City and the Emerald Necklace in Boston.

 


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Based on a work at Wikitravel.org & Traveldudes.org.

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