Quebec and onto Montreal
July 29th, 2019 1:37 pm
We spent a 2nd day in Quebec city and managed to see all new territory from the day before which was great, we feel we have seen the best of the city. On this second day we walked from one old gate of the city, Porte St Louis to the other.
On our way we found a tree that had a cannon ball lodged into it, apparently since 1759! As we were looking at I heard the driver of a horse drawn carriage tell his passengers that ‘of course it’s an English cannonball, the French ones were much bigger!’
We’ve had a small electrical issue with the car and had a part changed and decided it would be best if I drove the car (to test the fix) to Montreal and husband drive the coach which worked out fine. It was only about 3 hours of driving.
We are booked into a very nice campground called Cle de la Champs, key to the country, and it really is in a very nice country setting similar to the environment we were in by Quebec City, but here it’s very peaceful, and the countryside is some of the nicest I’ve ever seen. The roadsides are covered in wild flowers, the fields are full of green crops and the land is flat so the view is very wide. We are booked here for 4 nights so we can relax in a very nice environment.
Today was our first full day here and we explored the city of Montreal. We had made enquiries about driving in and parking, and were told as we have been so often before that we should take the bus, not to drive, crazy roads, no where to park etc. Just like Boston, we found the drive in simple enough and lots of street parking and car parks. Montreal looked much bigger than Quebec city so we decided to take our bicycles in which was a great decision as Montreal is a big city, it has a population of 1.75 million which is very similar to Auckland, but Montreal is much more compact.
The similarities to Auckland were many as we explored around. Their main park here is called Le Mont Royal, where the city gets its name from. The park is much like our domain or One Tree Hill, it’s an ancient volcano and dominates the city. It’s a lovely park, designed by Olmsted who designed Central Park in New York.
We rode our cycles up it from the river, it is all up hill and steep in places although only about 700ft at the summit. The ride was worth the view from the top. I can imagine this park is magnificent when it’s -20deg here, the ponds would ice over for skating, there are cross country ski areas and sledging all over-such fun and it would look so beautiful!
On our way up Le Mont Royal we saw some very beautiful houses-perhaps a city I could live in…Some of the magnificent houses that are for sale are cheap as chips compared to Auckland house prices!
The waterfront area of Montreal city is also similar to Auckland, underdeveloped, still industrial in places, cruise ships in port, but trying to make it a trendy fun urban place to hang out.
There were 3 things I really wanted to do in the city today, one was the ride to the top of the park, another was to get to 1420 Rue Crescent. This building is a tall block of flats and on one side is a mural of Leonard Cohen, who grew up in Westmount, Montreal and attended McGill University here. He didn’t always live in Montreal but owned a house here and certainly in his later years still considered it home. There have been many tributes to Leonard since he died in 2016 but I think the mural is special, it faces Le Mont Royal and can be seen from the top of the park, and from many places in the city, it’s quite prominent and located in a lovely part of the city.
The other thing I wanted to do was have a look at the Atwater Marche, so we cycled there on our way back to the car, it was a wonderful market with fresh local farmers produce, freshly baked break, meats, fish and cheeses. I bought a bounty for us to eat when we got back to the coach.
There are cycle ways all over the city and, perhaps because it was a Saturday, they were full of cyclists of all descriptions. Cycling is a very good way to explore the city.
Montreal has an old city but it’s quite different to Quebec city’s old city. This one is more spread out and less picturesque but still has many beautiful buildings such as the Basilique Notre Dame which was very beautiful, built in 1829.
No matter where in the city you are, there are old 17thcentury buildings interspersed with more recent buildings but most of the architecture is tasteful and interesting to look at.
Wandering around the city today so many accents can be heard. This is very much a multicultural city, 250,000 Irish alone settled here in the 18thcentury. There is also a huge Scottish population that came over as a consequence of the Scottish land clearings. Many street names are Scottish.
The city of Montreal is an island in the St Lawrence river. The island is connected by many magnificent bridges. The St Lawrence river has it’s source as the overflow of Lake Ontario and before that the great lakes, and flows 3000 km’s north west and runs out into the Atlantic sea, 10 different species of whale live in the river. Part of this mammoth river converges into the city of Montreal creating an interesting canal system that has a cycle path all along it which we took to return to our car.
Having spent a day in the city and to be staying only 30 minutes away in majestic country side it’s hard to think of a city that beats Montreal, this really is one of best cities I’ve been to, the only down side, and again similar to Auckland is all the construction and road changes that are half way throughout the city. Many streets are closed, lanes closed, bridges closed etc. It must be bedlam in rush hour!