Montreal: Old Town and a Cruise on the St. Lawrence

park near the waterfront

This sign is here just so tourists can pose by it

park near the waterfront

On Tuesday morning (Oct. 10) we drove from Albany to Montreal with our friends Roscoe and Joanne, hoping to see better fall colors than our trip had supplied so far. We rented a big SUV which was a very comfortable ride, but both Roscoe and I are used to driving smaller cars so we called it “the beast.”

When we arrived in Montreal it seemed that most of the downtown area was under construction, and our GPS kept misleading us! We finally found the hotel, but The Beast was so tall it was not able to be parked in the underground parking area. The hotel staff was very helpful in getting us a space in the alley behind the hotel – but it was such a difficult experience we decided that we would use the subway system to get around town.

Our hotel was right downtown – it was easy to walk to many of the places that we wanted to go, and there were lots of subway stops nearby for the times when we wanted to go farther. We had 3-day subway passes, and we made good use of them.

Montreal skyline from cruise boat

strange apartments on the St Lawrence

Vasco de Gama cafe on the street

On Wednesday we decided to go down to the waterfront, see the old town area, and take a cruise on the St. Lawrence river. One of the highlights of the day was the chance to go into the Notre Dame cathedral – so beautiful! We also enjoyed the old town area with its statues and monuments. We lunched at a crepe restaurant that featured big fresh fruit salads, and Karen found a paper store that had some supplies she could use in her craft work.

From there we walked down to the waterfront and spent some time in a park there, waiting for our cruise ship to sail. We got on the ship 30 minutes before departure and there weren’t very many other people. But in the last 10 minutes 3 tour buses pulled up and they had enough people on them to completely fill the ship.

The cruise went up the St. Lawrence River and gave us some great views of the Montreal skyline, the Olympic stadium, and many other sights.

We came back downtown to our hotel and had dinner on the street that night at Cafe Vasco de Gama. The tables were actually on the street in front of the restaurant! The food was good, and it was fun people-watching.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The cathedral is certainly beautiful. The use of colored lighting and brightly patterned pillars makes the main sanctuary look so bright and cheerful! There is a large open square out in front, and it has several statues and other public art. And musicians!

Click photos to see hi-res versions.

directional signs in old town

pavement of public square in front of cathedral

Walking around Montreal’s Old Town feels just like a stroll through a European capital. The big public square facing the cathedral, the narrow streets, the beautiful buildings with

old town walkway

faces on the building look down on the square

old-fashioned decorative architecture, the statues and memorials, the horse-drawn carriages – these are characteristic of of many cities in Europe. We loved it!

Paris-style building near the waterfront

Lambert Closse (d. 1662) famous Quebec military leader


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