Boy, do I love being outdoors! Especially surrounded by nature! And, as is the case in many cities I’ve been to, one of my favorite places I visited in Montreal was the extensive green space there, otherwise known as Mont Royal.
On this second full day of my visit to Montreal with my aunt (which also happened to be the 4th of July – Happy Birthday, America!! 🙂 ), we spent quite a bit of time outdoors.
Our morning started with a hop on the metro to take us to Mont Royal (or near to it). We got quite the workout just walking from the metro station to the entrance to the park! We’re talking San Francisco-steep streets. Whew!
But it was worth it. Mont Royal is actually a very large hill located in western Montreal and is what the city is named after.
We entered via the Rue Peel entrance and took the trails and stairs up to the Chalet du Mont Royal. Everyone we passed was in workout clothes and seriously working up a sweat. Okay, fine. We didn’t actually pass anyone, but everyone who passed us was not only in workout clothes and seriously working up a sweat, but also sprinting up the never-ending steep stairs. It was very inspiring and just confirmed to me again that someday I must live in a place that has large green spaces like this for me to work out in.
The woods that surrounded us were so beautiful. I seriously wanted to strap on my hiking boots and spend the rest of the day exploring all of the paths and trails that zig-zag across this “mountain”.
Once at the Chalet, we had a great view of the city (well, minus the clouds 🙂 ).
From there we took a much gentler path to the large, modern, steel cross that stands in honor of a wooden cross that was erected in 1643 by the founder of Montreal, Paul Chomeday de Maisonneuve.
After looping around the cross, we headed to the Smith House, which houses a café and the official Mont Royal Welcome Center. We had thought about picking up lunch there and taking it to Beaver Lake to eat since the clouds were disappearing and the day was turning out to be absolutely beautiful, but the lake ended up being completely surrounded by a construction fence. So we just decided to eat at Smith House. A surprisingly delicious lunch of sandwiches and wraps for both of us!
We took the bus down the mountain to the Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood, which we had both wanted to visit. What a lively and colorful area of Montreal! I really enjoyed walking around here and especially enjoyed the lavender ice cream we bought at a local ice cream parlor. 🙂
This show takes viewers on a journey through the history of Montreal, and more specifically, the history of the Notre Dame Basilica. This is done through narration and dramatization, which is projected onto a large screen.
As we entered the cathedral, we saw that it had been transformed from the day before. The inside was filled with large, white sails and blue light filled the air as other projected lights and sound created a really spectacular atmosphere.
We were given headsets to listen to the presentation in English. The entire show was not exactly what I was expecting (I thought there would be more light effects and music) but I still enjoyed it and especially enjoyed learning more about the history of Montreal and the Basilica.
Toward the end of the video presentation, all of the flags as well as the large screen dropped to the floor to reveal the entire nave all lit up.
Georgann and I both agreed that the basilica looks even more amazing at night with the muted, colored lights shining on it. It is truly one of the most spectacular and ornamental buildings I’ve ever seen.
We had reservations that evening to dine at La Gargote, which was located just a couple of blocks from our apartment. We had a lovely dinner there and had a really great server who constantly gave me a hard time regarding the fact that I have a French last name yet don’t speak the language. 🙂
I told Georgann that I’ve always been proud of my French name but here, in a French-speaking city, I feel like I can’t live up to it. Oh, well. Someday I will learn to speak the language!
If you love being outdoors, Mont Royal is the place for you! It is huge and there are so many paths and trails to explore. It appears to be the place to go for a workout as nearly everyone was running, jogging or biking. If you’re not into climbing but would like to visit some of the sites, there are city buses that will take you to a few of them.
The Notre Dame Basilica hosts the 35-minute presentation “And Then There Was Light” every evening. The cost is $10 for adults and it was a pleasant way to learn more about the history of Montreal’s beautiful basilica. And the inside looks so amazing with the lights shining on it, it’s worth attending just for that! Skip the $5 entrance fee during the day and attend this instead – you might not have as much time to just wander around on your own, but you’ll get to experience a truly beautiful sight.