6 romantic walks in Montréal
Make every day Valentine’s Day in Montréal, where something as simple as a stroll can be the most romantic experience of your year. There’s stuff to explore à deux in every neighbourhood, but when we think romance, six walking spots in particular spring to mind.
1. Lachine Canal
Running along the St. Lawrence River from Old Montréal all the way through to Lachine (ergo its name), the Lachine Canal is a beautifully landscaped waterfront trail to explore on foot. Allow a half day to stroll from Old Montréal – start around McGill Street where it meets the river – westward to Atwater Market, the perfect spot to enjoy lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants or pick up the makings of a riverside picnic. (There’s even a SAQ where you can get individual bottles of bubbly, should the mood strike!) The walk back on the other riverbank will seem so much shorter on a full stomach.
2. Promenade Fleuve-Montagne
Reaching from one to another of Montréal’s most stunning landmarks, this landscaped 3.8-kilometre walk will lead you from Mount Royal Park all the way to the shores of the St. Lawrence River, making it an ideal way to get to know the city. Interesting four seasons a year, Promenade Fleuve-Montagne features wide sidewalks, rest areas and (season willing) horticultural arrangements. Print the guided tour and map so you don’t miss any of the 100-plus points of interest, and start on the west side of Mount Royal Park, where the mountain meets Des Pins Avenue. For the best time, come prepared with a thermos of hot cocoa or cold lemonade to share along the way.
3. Parc Maisonneuve
With over 63 hectares of green space, this grand verdant expanse is paradisiac in the warm months and a destination in itself. Even better is the fact that Parc Maisonneuve is flanked by the Montréal Botanical Garden, one of Montréal’s most romantic spots ever! Pair the two together by packing a lunch and embarking on a long aimless stroll in the park until you find the perfect picnic spot – there are about three thousand to choose from. As the afternoon stretches on, head to the Botanical Garden to enjoy it at dusk – particularly if you can time your visit for fall time, when the Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens become enchanted with the stunning Gardens of Light festival.
4. Parc Jean-Drapeau
Parc Jean-Drapeau is many things to many people: it’s the place where every Montrealer loves to party, whether it’s at the family-fun winter festivals, the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada, the La Ronde amusement park or during the many world-renowned music festivals and weekly events that turn it into an open-air, all-day (and night) dance party. Located on a pair of islands in the St. Lawrence River, directly across from Montréal’s downtown core (and reachable in 20 easy minutes on the subway system), it also provides stunning views, romantic waterfront nooks galore and miles and miles of trails to stroll along, hand in hand. Expect to see bunnies and gophers doing their thang.
5. Frédéric-Back Park
This giant park in the northern end of Montréal was established to revive a former quarry and dumping ground, which makes its topography truly unique in the city. After a massive investment and incredible landscaping – the most ambitious environmental rehabilitation project ever undertaken in Montréal – Frédéric Back Park is a new shining beacon of outdoor activities, whether that’s cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, cycling or, of course, hiking anytime. For a true dose of nature, go as the sun is setting, explore the 5.5 kilometre walking trail and enjoy some romantic stargazing. There are even tours to do so with a guide (if you don’t mind a third wheel).
6. Old Montréal and the Old Port
Centuries-old architecture bordered by the beautiful St. Lawrence River… Is it any wonder these historic neighbourhoods of Montréal are considered the epitome of romance? Walk around the narrow cobblestone alleyways and you could get the impression that this area is old school, but our fair city’s original site is also home to some of its most cutting-edge fashion designers, stellar dining and incredible clubs. There’re tons to explore during your stroll – and if you want to up the quaintness even more, there’s also romantic skating during winter or pedalboat excursions for two during summer.
Isa Tousignant, blogger
Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s eclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.
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