Question for those familiar with area around Montreal & Quebec.
I am headed into/through that area in July. I'm not a huge fan of big cities and typically would avoid travelling through them. However, there is some appeal to see some of the sights in these cities. Can you offer suggestions for either visiting, or avoiding, these cities ?
I am travelling alone.
...and, no, I do not speak French.
Neil, Ajax, Ontario
Visit Old Montreal
Like yourself, I avoid large Cities if at all possible. Worth seeing is Old Montreal. The food (especially) is out of this world. The streets, day and night life is really good but, do be prepared to be a tad ignored if you don't speak french. Quebecers are VERY proud people. Most of Quebec will be speaking both french and english but, Downtown Old Montreal is another story. Well at least it was last time I was there (ciyt of MTL.) I am actually in Quebec right now on Biz and I can assure you they really go out of the way to speak english for you. Very passionate, fun, enjoyable people. HAve a GREAT trip
Thanks........I appreciate the help.
Small road corner junkie
Miss rush hour, and travel early or late through the area. It can be brutal, 4-6 lanes doing 80 mph, to a dead stop over and over again.
AND watch the pavement, it can be rough, frost heaves play havoc on the pavement, set the suspension soft to preserve your back.
High & Dry
Agree, coming into Montreal especially from the west can be stressful but after passing by Toronto, Ottawa, and Hull you will be battle tested. Montreal once had a Grand Prix and everyone seems to be practicing for it year round. They can be so aggressive that there is no right turn allowed on red. Also look out for bicyclist, the city is the 4th best place to cycle in North America.
On a lighter note once you get into the city it does not seem to be a major one. I regard it as a small town blended into other small towns, the people are friendly, they speak English but knowing a few French words help. The main thing to remember is greet the shop owners when you go in and say thank you and goodbye when you leave, it goes along way.
When I go I like staying at the Gouverneur Hotel which is near the Berri Metro station, it makes things simple to get in and round the city. Berri is a metro hub and you can get to any part of the city within minutes. The hotel is a four star (average to above average priced one) that has secure underground parking. The parking lot people are moto friendly and secure mine GS Adv near the booth. I never had a problem in the ten years going there. The hotel concierge ( Daniel ) is an MOA member who can get you sorted on your stay and can inform you what to do. He travels in late July this year.
I would allow 3-4 days in the city, much depends on what you like to do. The Museums are first rate, there is aways some sort of musical entertainment going on. I would recommend a bus city tour just to get a broad understanding of the place, old town and the harbor is interesting, the botanical garden is one of the best in the world second to the Kew gardens in England and the underground is clean and efficient. As far as eating, Gourmet Magazine ranks the place # 1 or 2 in North America and there are about 5,000 restaurants to chose from as specialized as an El Salvadorian to an Afghanistan one, to African food A-Z. Montreal will fit all food budgets, one of my favorites is a noodle house where you can get a meal for under 5 dollars. Daniel has a few cheap recommendations on places to eat. One of which is at a Chefs school that is gourmet all you can eat, cafeteria style its only horror.
The Jazz Fest is in July which creates some street congestion, but its worth a visit, many of the venues are outside and free.
For food check out this site and the Montreal Stuff link for tourist planning.
Best tourist site below. You have to spend some time walking the Plateau area, St Denis and St Laurant streets are pretty cool. They even have a Vespa and a Mini Dealership among the eateries and shops. The buildings in Montreal are old to modern design making walking a fun mode of transportation.
Crime ! Usually in Montreal its opportunistic, leaving things in plain view unsecured are tempting for some. I have been out late at night and only had one or two panhandlers approach me for change. The only violent crime is drug related or domestic, I never heard of anyone getting knocked down or robbed in ten years. The tourist areas are safe, patrolled and have video surveillance. There are alot of restaurant and party goers out at night I suppose if you look for crime you can find it. The city is beautiful and it is lived in, it has an international flavor with unusual people of all kinds. They embrace fringe and many subcultures because the place is safe for everyone. So don't be too alarmed if you see a Gothic clad person walking down a street, a drag queen, or a Tibetan Monk, its Montreal.
I usually enter Montreal from the south and west of the city, I cross over to the island by way of the 8th wonder of the world the Victoria bridge, its kind of scary with the water traveling fast beneath you, the route puts you near old town and within minutes to the hotel. Despite the the bridge there is little to no traffic pushing you. But regardless of perception one needs to see Montreal at least once in their life and what better way than going in this way.
MOA member Redrider lives there he can fill you in on current travel concerns. And there is a BMW dealer and a few independents nearby if need be.
All the best.
thanks for the helpful responses......I really appreciate it and am looking forward to a fun trip. jim