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Montreal - Out and About
Montreal, Canada's second largest city stands on a 50km long and 17km wide island between two forks of the St Lawrence river.
The city's tall skyscrapers, typical of American cities, rise above churches and monuments built according to the most varied of European styles, which bear witness to Montreal's role as a large cultural crossroads.
Montreal is the second largest French speaking city after Paris. 70% of its residents are of French extraction, 50% of English origin and the remainder represents all the main ethnic groups on the planet.
The Vieux Montreal is the historic centre of the city, dating back to 1624 when it was founded by French colonialists. A tour of the city could begin from Victoria Square and Rue Saint Jaques, the 18th Century financial district. The Notre Dame Basilica, built in 1829, is the most important ecclesiastical architecture in the city. The church is located in La Place d'Armes, near to Victoria Square.
Place Jaques-Cartier is the site of the Hotel de Ville, the City Council, re-built in 1924. The Chateau Ramezay, in Rue Notre Dame, dates back to 1705 and houses the Ethnographic Museum. Returning via Rue Saint Paul it is possible to observe and admire the Neo-Classic facade of the Marché Bonsecur and the 17th Century Chapel of Notre- Dame- of-Bonsecur.
Dorchester Square and Place du Canada are natural oasis in the centre of Montreal. The Sun Life Building, which housed the English Crown jewels during the last war, is located in this area. It is also the site of the Maria-Reine-du-monde, catholic cathedral, built as a model of the Saint Peter Basilica in Rome.
The cathedral, a quarter of the size of Saint Peter, was finished in 1894 and contains a copy of the Bernini canopy. The Place Ville-Marie, site of the Banque Royale Towers, and the McGill College Avenue with the Place Montreal Place, are located a short distance from the Cathedral. The area also houses the Christ Church Cathedral, built in Neo-Gothic style in 1860 and the interesting Contemporary Art Museum.
The McGill College Avenue leads into the McGill University Campus, founded in 1821, the oldest university in Canada. The university stands on land left to the country by the leather merchant James McGill.
One of the buildings in the complex houses the interesting and varied, Redpath Museum of Natural History. The McCord Museum dedicated to Canadian History is situated in Rue Sherbrooke West close to the site of the McGill University.To the north-west of Rue Sherbrook West, the city starts to climb the Mont Royal Hill, site of the Mont Royal Park, an area with over 100 hectares of woods and meadows . The terrace of the Belvedere du chalet offers spectacular views over the city centre. The Oratoire St-Joseph,a vast reinforced concrete building,stands on the summit of the hill and serves as a pilgrimage site. It is possible to tour the city on foot, using public transport for those destinations further a-field. Montreal has an extensive bus service and 4 underground lines which serve 65 stations, 10 of which are linked to 'Underground City' a system of tunnels and underground passageways, home to 1,600 shops, restaurants, hotels and cinemas. Bus and train services operate from 6am to 1am
Montreal - Not to be missed
The Musee des Beaux Arts, the oldest and largest collection of art in Quebec, is housed in two buildings linked by an underground passageway. The buildings are located one in front of the other in Rue Sherbrooke West 1379-1380. The north building, characterized by large marble pillars, is the Benaiah Desmarais Pavilion. Its galleries house European art from Medieval to the 20th century and boasts masterpieces by Mantegna, El Greco, Ribera, Poussin, Salvator Rosa, Rembrandt, Renoir, Pisarro, and Picasso. The Benaiah Gibb Pavilion, houses collections of Canadian and Inuit art and is the site of numerous temporary art exhibitions. The galleries are open Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm and from 11am to 9pm on Saturday. The Montreal Olympic Park, designed for the 1976 Olympics, houses numerous interesting modern buildings including the Montreal tower, the world's highest sloping tower. the tower stands at 175 metres and has a cable-car which takes visitors to the observatory, where it is possible to enjoy wonderful views over the city. The Biodrome ( ex-cycle stadium in the shape of a cyclists helmet), houses different natural climates from different zones around the globe. The 73-hectare Jardin Botanique, one of the largest botanical gardens in the world and the second most important after Kew Gardens in London, is situated close to the Olympic Park.
Montreal - Walks and tours
Quebec city, capital of the province of the same name, is situated 270 km from Montreal. The city was one of the first European settlements on the American continent and even today still preserves the historic fort of Vieux Quebec, recognised in 1985 as a Unesco world heritage site. Vieux Quebec is divided into two main areas. Haut Ville, with its historic centre surrounded by a wall and the Citadel and Basse- Ville, the site of the original 1605 settlement. The main monument in Haute-Ville is the impressive Chateau Frontenac, dating back to 1893, now an enormous hotel complex and symbol of the city. Other interesting buildings include the Monasteres des Ursulines, Holy Trinity, Hotel-de-Ville( Town Hall), Notre-Dame-de-Quebec. The Citadel, located on the southern side of the Haute-Ville was the spectacular defence system built during the British Era and is characterized by thick walls separated by a moat. The Basse-Ville area is a dense assortment of recently restored period buildings, located around Place-Royale. The re-constructed Notre-Dame-des -Victoires, stands out among the buildings surrounding the square
Montreal - The traveller's notebook
Currency : Canadian dollar
Electric supply: 110 volts
Climate : the climate in Montreal varies according to the seasons. The summers are warm and wet with an average temperature that reaches 26°C. Winters are cold with abundant snowfalls
Language : English and French
Opening hours : Shops are open all day from Monday to Saturday from 9:30am to 6pm and from 12 to 5pm on Sundays. Banks are open from Monday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm and from 10am to 6pm on Friday. Many of the major banks are also open on Saturday mornings.
Telephones : To dial to Canada dial 001 followed by the area code and the private number. The code for Montreal is 514.
Montreal - A pocket guide
Rue Crescent and Rue St-Denis are lively and busy areas in the evening, where it is possible to find bars, bistros and jazz clubs. Old Montreal is the site of numerous jazz-bars and 'boites à chansons', lively but intimate clubs which offer live music. The most popular area is Boulevard St-Laurent, with a multitude of alternative bars and clubs, popular with the young . Montreal has over 4,000 restaurants offering an array of national and international cuisine.
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