Re-discover the new Old Montréal

Mark Hamilton

A blend of Montréal’s most historic and newest attractions, Old Montréal and the Old Port make up the city’s iconic historic quarters. While the history of centuries gone by echoes through the cobblestone streets, these neighbourhoods remain some of Montréal’s most dynamic and constantly evolving areas. There is always something new to discover in Old Montréal.

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Eye-popping transformations

With cutting-edge technology and projections, the storied buildings of Old Montréal have experienced mind-blowing renewal and nightly come to life before your eyes. Moment Factory’s AURA transforms the interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica into a symphony of lights and effects that literally bring the building to life. Out on the streets, the ghostly projections of Montréal en Histoires - Cité Mémoire tell the story of the city via a free multi-lingual app. And for those searching for a different view over the city, La Grande Roue de Montréal gives visitors and locals alike a new angle over the angled rooftops of the Old Port.

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History gone high tech

The Phi Centre’s varied schedule of forward-looking technology conferences, live performances, and installations (including acting as a home base for the Red Bull Music Academy, the North American premiere of Björk Digital and a focus on Virtual Reality technology) has claimed a reputation as one of Montréal’s most inspiring venues.

Montréal was co-founded by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance in 1642 at the very spot where Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex resides. Pointe-à-Callière showcases a striking union between history and high tech, and no visit is complete without taking in the breathtaking views of the lookout tower.

Science lovers who also love the rush of water below their feet without having to step into a boat need look no further than the Montréal Science Centre. Spectacular views of Old Montréal and the St. Lawrence are sure to keep everyone energized – and free of seasickness.

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New cuisine in the old city

Fine dining has always been an important part of Old Montréal’s DNA and these Montréal favourites have established themselves amongst the cobblestone streets. Recent openings like the poke bowl hotspot Venice, the culinary acrobatics of Mimi la nuit, vegetarian and vegan hot spot LOV McGill, and Canadian brasserie Rockwood join a list of almost limitless mouth-watering options. Local mouths salivate in the queue for the brand-new Monarque on Saint-Jacques Street, an offering from the father-son team Richard and Jérémie Bastien that’s been well worth the wait.

Any visit to the historic district isn’t complete without a look at the Antonopoulous Group’s Experience Old Montréal site, listing nine of their old city restaurants, each and every one a highlight: Vieux-Port Steakhouse, Verses Bistro, Taverne Gaspar, Maggie Oakes - Brasserie Montréalaise, Modavie, Méchant Boeuf Bar-Brasserie, Kyo Bar Japonais, Brasserie 701 and BEVO Bar + Pizzeria

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Cafés and bars that refresh and amaze

From the breathtaking Crew Collective & Café to the new Cafe Olimpico at the William Gray Hotel, Old Montréal has café choices for every taste and mood. For those looking to do a bit of work during their visit, Montréal’s co-working spaces are some of the best in the world.

When it’s past coffee hours and time for a cocktail, Old Montréal’s bar scene also holds a wealth of unforgettable options. Learn to sabre a bottle at La Champagnerie, keep things trendy yet low-key at Philémon Bar, sample the cool cocktails at Flyjin and Joverse, travel back to the roaring ‘20s at Bord’elle and seek out the hidden Coldroom on Saint-Vincent Street. New kids on the block like gay hotspot ÖriGn on de la Commune Street and the Clandestino mezcal and tequila bar on Saint-François-Xavier Street show no signs of the old city slowing down any time soon.

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A hotel hotspot

Old Montréal’s hotel scene is both rich and forever changing. The Hôtel William Gray, a jewel in the crown of the Antonopoulos Group, whose portfolio of boutique hotels in the historic district is truly impressive, has locals and visitors alike buzzing. In addition to the William Gray, this local family business also owns and operates the Lofts du Vieux-Port, Le Place d'Armes Hôtel & Suites, Le Petit Hôtel, Hôtel Nelligan and Auberge du Vieux-Port.

Other options include the all-suite Le Saint-Sulpice Hôtel - Montréal next to the Notre-Dame Basilica, the luxurious Hotel Le St-James, the magnificent Hotel Gault and the elegant Hôtel St-Paul, all offering the most modern comforts in distinctly historical settings. Trusted brands like Le Westin Montréal are all well situated for a plush and comfortable home base in the neighbourhood.

With new developments on the docket for 2019 (we can’t wait for the upcoming opening of the Hotel Humaniti), it’s safe to say the only thing that stays constant in Old Montréal is its ability to constantly change.

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton, blogger, Queer MTL community manager

Male, mid-to-late 30s, tall and bearded. Likes romantic walks on Mont Royal, long-distance cycling, beard oil products and antique travel guides. Has a bad habit of falling in love with men in vintage photographs who are certainly long dead. If he could be anything, he’d live his life as a professional flâneur. Until then, he spends his time writing, making music, and wandering.

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