The city of Montréal occupies a land area of 431 square kilometres and thus it becomes one of the juggernauts of its parent country (Canada). With a population of over 1.6 million, it is the most populous city in Quebec (the French-speaking eastern state) and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. The population density within the bounds of the central urban area exceeds 4.500 people per square kilometre, so you can easily say that it is a swarming metropolis. With its intricate Underground City (a subterranean network that connects important venues around the downtown area), it solves most of its density problems and we see little or no inconvenience caused by traffic jams. To further emphasize its prosperity, the renowned American writer Mark Twain dubbed Montréal “The City of a Hundred Steeples” in 1881. If we take a thorough look at the skyline, we’ll understand exactly what he meant by that (wink).
Montréal is located within the bounds of the humid continental climate zone and thus it experiences severe temperature fluctuations throughout a year. To put the aforementioned statement into perspective, let us simply mention the fact that summers are but warm (with an average high of around 25-27 degrees Celsius) whilst winters are cold to freezing. Temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius have been recorded several times between November and March. This does not happen all the time but -18-degree nights are not uncommon. At times, temperatures can rise above 0 and Montréal experiences an average of 4 rainy days during wintertime. We expressly urge you to pack those thick clothes and prepare accordingly, for even if the air temperature does not often fall below -30, the wind might make you feel as though it were -35.
Montréal is served by two main airports – one for cargo and one for passengers. The one that you are going to find yourself at is the passenger airport called Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (also known as Dorval Airport). Handling more than 15.5 million passengers each year, it is the third-busiest airport in Canada (behind the juggernaut-airports of Toronto and Vancouver). This might change in the future, however, for its traffic increases by nearly 5% each year. You will find the airport in the suburb called Dorval, 20 kilometres away from the downtown area of Montréal.
If you are person of deeds and of adventure, you are most certainly going to want to get around as fast as possible. Well, we have some good news for you for the Montréal Metro is an excellent rapid transit choice. Operating on 4 lines and with 68 stations, it is an all-round solution to all transport-related issues. With its massive annual ridership of nearly 400 million (way over 1 million riders per day), it can only be praised for its efficiency and punctuality.
Remember the Underground City? Well, its networks make Montréal a perfectly walkable city. If you have the time, choose the eco-friendly approach and avoid renting a car in the city. Walk through the corridors of the network and enjoy every little detail that it has to offer from fine restaurants to eye-popping shops.
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
First and foremost, make sure that you pay a visit to the celebrated Montréal Biodome, an ecosystem-replicating facility located within the bounds of the Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood of the city. The establishment houses nearly 5.000 animals and over 1.500 plants divided into nearly 230 and 750 species respectively. This makes it an excellent place to take your children to for they can experience the biodiversity of the Americas first-hand. Be one of the 1 million visitors that experience its marvels annually.
Next up, you should consider hopping over to the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Established in 1860 (thus becoming the oldest facility dedicated to fine arts in Canada), the museum has over 1 million visitors each year and it is one of the most prominent ones in Canada. With a total floor area of 45.000 square metres, it contains more than 42.000 exquisite works. What’s interesting about the establishment (and what makes it visitable multiple times) is its membership in the Group of Organizers of Large-scale Exhibitions, which allows leaders of member institutes to exchange works and exhibitions. Thus, you can see a few new things popping up every time you revisit it.
And when you were thinking that there was only one Notre Dame, we came up with another one for you in Montréal. The Notre-Dame Basilica is noticeable within the bounds of the Old Montréal district of the city (another fine place to thoroughly explore) and it is located next to the Saint-Sulpice Seminary, facing the Place d’Armes square. Its construction began in 1823 and it was dedicated to the Holy Mary in 1829. With its twin towers soaring at 60 metres, it is a reliable beacon in the surrounding area (should you lose your way). Oh, and let us not forget its builder, James O’Donnell, who specifically crafted it in order to adhere to the Gothic architectural style.
Ever had nightmares with insects? Well, here’s a perfect chance to overcome your fear for the Montréal Insectarium is the next point of interest that FreeMiniMaps recommends for you. Of course, it does not only harbour spiders and cockroaches, for it has the most exquisite collection of butterflies as well (wink). With over 160.000 specimens distributed into 95 species, the establishment was opened in 1990. It is one of the most prominent landmarks of the city along with the Botanical Garden, the Biodome and the Planetarium (other establishments that you should not leave out by any means).
Montréal is a packed city when it comes to activities and if you look at it thoroughly, it is quite educational in nature. If you are in for some extra knowledge, be sure to visit all the aforementioned establishments without hesitation. Let the City of a Hundred Steeples show you that sometimes the grandeur of the skyline directly reflects the amplitude of wisdom of a community.