Downtown's stunning observatory, Au Sommet Place Ville Marie
An observation deck with 360° views, a gourmet brasserie with a year-round terrace, an interactive cultural exhibit: it’s all there in the Au Sommet Place Ville Marie. Situated in Montréal’s iconic Place Ville Marie, the cruciform jewel of downtown designed by I.M. Pei and Henry N. Cobb, the Au Sommet offers Montrealers and visitors a creative, contemporary and immersive space. Place Ville Marie has long occupied a special place in the heart of Montrealers. This prestigious building, which was inaugurated in 1962, signaled an era of economic prosperity. It is at the heart of the RESO Underground Pedestrian Network, home to the city’s massive revolving spotlight as well as the giant illuminated Christmas tree in winter. It was also here, on the top floor, that the city’s legendary Altitude 737 bar was located. Now, Au Sommet will bring the top four floors of the city’s “Grande Dame” back to life with spaces fully dedicated to celebrating the heart and soul of downtown Montréal.
From the café and boutique on the commercial level to the 43rd floor foyer
For years, people have been flocking to Place Ville Marie for work (10,000 people work in the complex) and for its elegant indoor shopping centre. It’s here at the busy commercial level that visitors can access the Au Sommet reception area and ticket counter as well as the Café + Boutique Made in Montréal. As the name suggests, the boutique features products by local artisans and designers. Coffee lovers can also pick up an exclusive made-for-the-occasion blend (called Au Sommet Place Ville Marie), while people pressed for time can pick up lunch boxes and ready-made meals from Les Enfants Terribles restaurant at the Café. From the ground floor shopping gallery, visitors can access Au Sommet via a designated elevator, which whisks them up to the 43rd floor foyer.
Local delicacies and open-air terraces to love on the 44th floor
Staggering views, a relaxed setting and Les Enfants Terrible Brasserie all await adventurous gourmets on the building’s 44th floor. In keeping with the city’s culinary reputation for excellent and affordable food, the prices will be anything but elevated. Epicureans can enjoy classic dishes and new trends on menus designed for brunch, lunch or dinner, in addition to excellent wine and cocktail choices. With a group menu and catering service as well, this new locale also makes an ideal choice for bigger gatherings. And everyone can relax on the gorgeous four-season terrasse, which boasts 12-foot-high bay windows and an urban garden.
An interactive cultural exhibition on the 45th floor
Proving it’s dedicated to the Montréal experience, Au Sommet offers visitors the chance to get to know the city even better through #MTLGO, an interactive multimedia exhibition on its 45th floor, designed by Montréal-based company gsmprject°. It explores many popular city themes—from hockey to gastronomy to performing arts to neighbourhoods—through 55 videos of citizens and Montréal personalities as well as 500 photos culled from the city’s social media and archives. The whole experience comes with RFID wristbands and visitors are encouraged to “like” the attractions they see. Then, when everything wraps up, they get a ticket to discover what they just experienced in real time, whether checking out the Biosphère’s geodesic dome, riding a BIXI bike from the Plateau to Old Montréal or climbing the Clock Tower.
Sumptuous city views from the 46th floor Observatory
Saving the best for the very last, Au Sommet treats visitors to truly sublime 360° views from its sleek 46th floor Observatory. There are also Tellscopes, high resolution digital telescopes like those atop the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, that make the panorama pop even more. People can behold, among others, the majestic St. Lawrence River, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, the Olympic Stadium, Old Montréal, the Quartier des spectacles and our beloved Mount Royal. The Observatory is also home to L’Odyssée, a permanent exhibition of images that recount the story of Place Ville Marie as well as its political, economic and architectural heritage.
Rebecca Sellers, blogger
Hailing originally from the big country skies of Manitoba, Rebecca adopted Montréal over 20 years ago after living in Québec City and France as a student. When she is not writing, translating or teaching English, she can be found pedaling the city’s bike paths, strolling the streets in search of hidden gems, and striking up conversations with local merchants, creators and folks in the neighbourhood.
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