Today’s Montreal from A to Z blog post is about Downtown.
As per Petula Clark, “Just listen to the music of the traffic of the city.” Montreal’s downtown is definitely the place to be when you are feeling lonely; its hustle and bustle will have you feeling better again in no time, even if you’re just strolling the streets like a flâneur.
As mentioned yesterday, there are plenty of cafés downtown where you can do a little people-watching. I’ve always found this to be a rewarding pastime, whether you like overhearing bizarre conversations and gossip, or want to chalk it up to “research” for your next book.
In addition to the cafés, downtown Montreal is also where you’ll find plenty of shopping. The malls tend to be indoors, thanks to the cold Candian winters, and most of them lead one into the other through underground walkways, which Montrealers call the “Underground City.” Above-ground you can also find boutiques, bookstores, and The Bay – Canada’s big department store.
Hungry? There’s lots of place to eat downtown, from quick bites and cheap eats to some very expensive places, particularly at the upscale hotels.
Need a drink? Crescent Street is at the heart of the bar scene downtown, while those looking for something a bit more laid back (except, of course, on St. Patrick’s Day!) will likely prefer Bishop Street’s Irish pubs.
What I like most about Montreal’s downtown is its walkability. The blocks are short, and the downtown core is built mainly on a grid, so you can easily walk from one end to the other, or grab a metro if you’re feeling tired. The city has also installed community bicycles called Bixi, which can be rented for free for the first half hour, encouraging people to explore the city by bike.
Concordia University’s main campus is also located downtown in a series of tall buildings, so you’ll find plenty of people scurrying to their classes, in addition to the typical businessmen and women trying to snag lunch or hurrying off to meetings.
Finally, Montreal also puts most of its strip clubs front and center on the main drag downtown, Ste-Catherine. Whereas many other cities prefer to keep the smut to a designated Red Light District, Montreal’s is right alongside fashionable boutiques and trendy restaurants. Pourquoi pas?
So, all in all, Montreal’s downtown is a part of the city where I’ve spent a lot of time. Unlike some cities, the area doesn’t empty out after 5 or 6 PM when all the businesspeople go home for the evening. It’s got activity at all hours of the day, and it’s quite safe, probably for that very reason. So downtown Montreal is actually one of my favorite parts of the city, despite its oversized potholes, occasional water-main bursts that flood the streets, chunks of falling concrete, and insane drivers battling bicyclists for space on the streets. It’s lively, it’s always busy, and it’s home.
Question of the day: What’s your favorite destination that starts with D?
Want to learn more about Montréal’s Underground City? My book, Naked Montréal is now available at Amazon! Click here to download your copy now. (NOTE: This title is 18+.)