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Exclusive | Montreal: What to See & Do Part Two

Exclusive | Montreal: What to See & Do Part Two

One of Montr?al's most bustling and colorful districts is called The Main, another name for the section of the Boulevard Saint-Laurent, north of rue Sherbrooke. Reminiscent of Paris's Latin Quarter, the neighborhood is peopled with students, multiethnic businesses, bookstores, boutiques, restaurants and dozens of bars. Rue St-Denis between Ste-Catherine and Avenue Mont-Royal is a wonderful place to shop with many upscale boutiques and caf?s. Heading back west, you'll run into the gigantic terrain of the Parc Mont Royal, dominated by a very steep and high hill (675 feet), which feels like a mountain while you're climbing its side by staircases and paths. New York's own Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park, also landscaped this park, which has an abundance of jogging trails, walking paths, and even ski paths winding through its forests. There are three spectacular lookouts atop the mount, including a pavilion from which a gorgeous spread of the city is visible. On the park's outskirts is St. Joseph's Oratory of Mont Royal (3800 rue Queen-Mary; 514-733-8211), a domed basilica second in height only to Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The Parc Olympique (514-252-4737 or 877-997-0919) take the M?tro to Viau or Pie-IX), site of the 1976 Olympics, is an impressive sight. Its stadium and tower are remarkable feats of engineering and cost -- to the tune of $1.2 billion. The stadium is the site of annual Black and Blue party extravaganzas. Nearby is the Biod?me (4777 avenue Pierre de Coubertin Avenue; 514-868-3000), a fascinating collection of four ecosystems under one roof: tropical, polar, forest and maritime. A free shuttle bus ride away is the nearby Jardin Botanique de Montr?al (Botanical Garden, rue 4101 Sherbrooke Est; 514-872-1400), a massive botanical garden comprising various floral landscapes, including a Japanese Garden and a replica of a fifteenth-century Ming Chinese Garden. For those not faint at heart, the Garden also includes the Insectarium, filled with thousands of various kinds of creepy crawlers, as well as interesting entomological displays.

A nice alternative to the gay hustle and bustle of the Village is the nearby Plateau Mont Royal area, usually just called Le Plateau. This is a hip, yuppie-ish, mixed gay-straight neighborhood chockablock with interesting shops and restaurants. The architecture is of particular interest here, with streets lined with 19th-century Mansard-roofed buildings reminiscent of Place des Vosges in the Marais. Start with a stroll along Parc Lafontaine and check out rue Fabre and rue Cristophe-Colomb for the best building peeping.

The Parc Mont Royal is threaded with jogging trails, bike paths, walking trails and ski slopes. There are some popular bike routes along the Lachine Canal and across to the islands from Old Montreal, as well as throughout the city. The entire Parc LaFontaine (avenue du Parc LaFontaine, north of Sherbrooke) is gay-popular during the day, especially the "gay beach" around the lake, near Sherbrooke. During winter months, ice skate or cross-country ski at the Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Saint Lawrence River site of the Expo 1967 World's Fair, named after the late Mayor Jean Drapeau, whose world-class dreams and schemes brought Montr?al the M?tro, Expo and the Olympic debt.

One of the most unique experiences you can do during summer months is rafting down the St. Lawrence River along the city edge. Les Descentes sur le St-Laurent (800-324-RAFT or 514-767-2230), a white-water rafting and hydro jet boat company, offers thrilling rides down the intimidating rapids of the river. In the Saint-Laurent River, both islands are completely accessible by bike, with on-road and off-road options. Velo Aventure/Zap Montreal (Quai du Convoyeurs; 514-288-8356) in Vieux Port offers bike rentals and repairs, plus in-line skate and electric scooter rentals. Open mid-May to mid-October.

Part One | Part Two

Related Articles:
Montreal: Introduction
Montreal: Where to Stay
Montreal: Where to Eat
Montreal: Where to Play/Meet
Montreal: Where to Shop
Montreal: Resources

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