Friday, March 16, 2012

The Insider's Guide to Old Montreal

Montreal is one of the oldest and most charming  settlements in North America.

 Old Montreal is understandably one of the prime tourist attractions for visitors. 

Originally, Montreal was an Iroquois settlement named Hochelaga when Jacques Cartier sailed from France in 1535, seeking a waterway to China and Japan. 

The actual founding of Montreal occurred in 1642, when it was named Ville Marie, was by Paul Chomedey, who was the sieur de Maisonneuve.

Rue St. Paul, where sidewalk cafes are as common as Paris and exquisite dishes from French and European cuisines. The secret is the relaxed pace of life where you sip wine and spend an entire afternoon.

People watching is as an end in itself.

Below, a gallery, one of several fine galleries that feature original art and sculpture in Old Montreal.

Not only is Le Papillon's  onion soup reportedly superb (below) but patrons have been known to order endless plates of escargot and mussels, which comes with a scrumptious  blue cheese sauce. 

Reviewers report that the braised rabbit and salmon are tender, the price reasonable and the service superb.

Le Papillon offers continental service, which is rare in the U.S., except in the most expensive restaurants, but such service is common in Old Montreal. 

 Le Senateur restaurant is another fine dining establishment in Old Montreal (not shown) that offers exquisite dishes, white linen tablecloths and continental service.

Bonsecours Market dates from  1847. 

Bonsecours Street above, was laid out in 1665, along with Jacques Cartier, St. Sulpice and a few others.

The building foreground right is the Maison Pierre du Calvert; the red building is the restaurant Maison Pierre du Calvert. 

At left, the original stones, built when this street was gridded in 1665.  

Benjamin Franklin stayed here and sought  Calvert's support for troops for the Revolutionary War. 

Calvert complied with Franklin's request, but was  imprisoned for this. 

The inn is now for sale, a tragedy, since this historic site is truly one of the most luxurious hotels and restaurants around. 

Brad Pitt and many other celebrities have stayed here.

The Bonsecour church was built over ruins of the first chapel  in 1771 and is situated over the ruins of the first chapel built in 1655 and burned in 1754. 

This church is commonly called The Sailor's church after sailors made offerings in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for delivering them safely to the port of Montreal.

Below, the Verre de l'Ange looks enticing but reviewers say that the ownership has changed and that the food is not well prepared.

Old Montreal  always teems with life. 

There is simply no such thing as a bad day in Old Montreal, weather not withstanding. 

During inclement weather, tourists and residents alike take to the indoor cafes.

 The architecture in this office building seems bombastic by our simpler contemporary tastes, but in its day, this building was  an excellent example of the Art deco period. 

It also resembles a certain building named "The Architect's" building of the same era and of a similar style. 

The Architect's building was destroyed in the 1960s to make way for newer buildings.

Below, tourists enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn caleche.

In Montreal, the caleche has been a tourist attraction for at least five decades.

 Recently, advocacy groups have attempted to ban the caleche, because of  collisions with automobiles.

The Basilica Notre Dame sits at 110 Notre Dame West on the corner of Rue St. Sulpice  in Montreal  and is one of four basilicas in Montreal. 

The first church on this site, built in 1672, was the parish church for Ville Marie, the former name of Montreal.  

By the 1800s, the congregation had outgrown the original church building and plans for a new building were made. 

The groundbreaking for the new building was in 1823 and was completed in 1843 in a Gothic Revival style. 

At the time, the Notre Dame was the largest church in North America. Pavarotti sang in the Notre Dame and Celine Dion married in the Notre Dame. 

Its pipe organ dates from 1891 and includes more than 9000 pipes. 

It was elevated to the status of  basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1982.  

The church now charges an entry fee of $5, unless visitors are attending mass. 

A special light show runs Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets: $10 adults; $9 seniors; $5 children and teens.

Copyright  ©  The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin. 2006-2017 Photos copyright © Kathryn Esplin 2006-2017. All rights reserved. 

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