Old Montreal is the historic center of the city. This is where the French pilgrims docked when they first arrived to the city (the exact location is now a museum). Although not much remains of the original French colonial architecture (most buildings that stand today were built by the British in the 19th century), Old Montreal still encapsulates the spirit of a distinctly European settlement.
1. Places to Visit
Rue St-Jacques (formerly Saint-James Street) was Canada's financial center for over a century. You can still admire old bank headquarters on the stretch of the street between blvd St-Urbain and rue McGill.
Built over several decades from 1824 on, Notre-Dame de Montréal was Montreal's answer to the revered Paris cathedral. Curiously, this quintessentially catholic church it was built by a protestant anglophone architect, James O’Donnell (he eventually converted to Catholicism and was buried in the same church).
Located across the Lachine Canal from Old Montreal proper, Habitat 67 is a very unusual (at the time of its contruction, it could even be considered revolutionary) housing complex. It can be easily seen from rue de la Commune.
If you're a movie fan and liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), you should walk down Rue St-Pierre, especially the part closer to the river. The entire "Parisian" café sequence, as well as some of the old "Russia" in that movie were shot there over a few days.
» Our list of selected Old Montreal Places to Visit (4)
2. Places to Stay
In terms of style, design and atmosphere, Old Montreal is without a doubt the best neighborhood to stay in Montreal. Most hotels are here high-end.
If you'd like to be close to the area, but don't think you can afford it, consider staying in Quartier International (10 min walk away) or Downtown Montreal (anywhere from 15-30 min walk away).
» Our list of selected Old Montreal Hotels (5)
3. Places to Eat, etc
While Le Plateau is Montreal's dining capital, Old Montreal probably comes in second - at least, in terms of upscale restaurants (in fact, casual dining options here are rather limited). As a tourist destination, it benefits from a steady stream of international visitors.Unfortunately, because of the tourist-oriented schedule of this historic neighborhood, very little in the way of good cafés is open after 7pm. Better get your coffee during the day.
» Our list of selected Old Montreal Cafés and Restaurants (8)
Old Montreal proper is served by two metro stations: Place d'Armes, in the western part of the neighborhood and Champs de Mars, in the eastern part. You can also walk from the Square Victoria metro station, although it is technically located in neighboring Quartier International.
There are several bus routes as well, notably the newly launched 515 linking Old Montreal with Downtown Montreal as well as with Quartier Latin.