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Help me make Montreal F1 Weekend better than a Max Mosley orgy.
June 2, 2011 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Formula 1 weekend in Montreal: Travel questions!!

We're driving up from DC to Montreal for the F1 weekend. I've got a litany of questions so I'll try to organize them:

1.) Highway Travel
-If we are departing from Washington D.C., is it worth circumventing the tolls up 95 towards NY by taking 81 instead of eventually getting to 87? How much money would we save versus how much extra time using that circuitous route? How much toll expense would you budget?
- If we plan on arriving at the border between 5-6AM, what type of wait could we expect to get processed or should we have smooth sailing? Any morning traffic getting into the city?
-Favorite places to stop for a bite or a view of something amazing?

2.) Acommodations
We've booked the Alexandrie-Montreal hostel for Friday night but are sans accomodations on Sat/Sun (they were full). Can you recommend your favorite hostels and other resources besides hostelworld.com that may have availabilitiy on a budget for Saturday and Sunday the 11th & 12th? We're into social hostels but can do with more subdued ones if they are well located.

3.) Race tickets
Everything we've seen online has been onerously expensive. We're going to look to scalp on race day and try to get lawn tickets or preferably some view of the hairpin or the wall of champions (best points on the track imo). Any idea how feasibly scalping will be? We're generally pretty crafty...also is craigslist a good idea?

4.) Nightlife/Dining/Just Pour Rire suggestions
-Would love to hear your nightlife suggestions as well as your favorite cafes/brunch spots, window shopping, landmarks/parks etc... For cuisine, probably on a budget as we are indeed hosteling. For nightlife, we're into anything from chill lounges to untz untz clubs. 4 guys going out so nothing with a doorguy from hell, but definitely interested in mingling and meeting females. For just pour rire, any suggestions on who may be extra hilarious and performing in english (as my compatriots do not speak French).


Cheers!
posted by Hurst to Travel & Transportation around Montreal, QC (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Montreal has a bed and breakfast network. There might be some overlap between that site and hostelworld, but I'm not sure.

Le Salon Daomé is a techno club.

Piknic Electronik is a weekly outdoor techno event held in Parc Jean Drapeau. It's pretty awesome. The event is held under an Alexander Calder sculpture with a view of the Biosphere.
posted by mkb at 10:14 AM on June 2, 2011


1. I think the customs line won't be bad on the way there, but if you're leaving to come back on Sunday after the race, you WILL wait for 2hrs+ at the border. And I'm not sure what tolls would be through NJ (as I usually drove from northern NJ to Montreal, which comes to about $4.85 I think on the NY Thruway from NJ to Albany, after that, no tolls). Oh, and don't speed, the cops know which weekend this is (even in NY), and they have a field day pulling over all the F1 driver wannabes. If you want to stop for a bite and/or gas on the way up, try to do it before you get past Lake George, as after that there is not much of anything until Plattsburgh.

2. You may want to check out the McGill dorms for accommodations, as they are relatively cheap, and one of them is even a former hotel, so not bad. But they may also be sold out for F1 weekend, as it's the biggest tourist weekend of the entire year for Montreal.

3. Can't help you here, but I know tickets are pretty damn expensive.

4. As for night life, I like the St. Laurent/Prince Arthur neighborhood personally, but there is also the Crescent/St. Catherine area too, and further east from St. Laurent there's St. Denis, but it's a bit more French speaking over that way. They used to close down most of St. Laurent, which is pretty cool, cause all the bars/restaurants spill out onto the street. For specific recommendations, I think there are quite a few previous questions.
posted by Grither at 10:19 AM on June 2, 2011


Any morning traffic getting into the city?
Ha. Ha ha. Yes. Imagine that Montreal is an island, with a limited number of bridges to get on to the island. Imagine further that many of the area's jobs are on this island, but the less expensive suburban communities are off the island. You would then be imagining the reality. Get there as early as possible. You may hit traffic at the border, but it is most likely to be trucks which go in separate lanes.

Can you recommend your favorite hostels and other resources besides hostelworld.com that may have availabilitiy on a budget for Saturday and Sunday the 11th & 12th?
Most things will be full; those that aren't will be expensive. Airbnb might work, though you probably would need to split up. The further you are willing to be from downtown, the likelier you are to find something, but the more you'll need to spend on taxis.

Would love to hear your nightlife suggestions as well as your favorite cafes/brunch spots, window shopping, landmarks/parks etc...
I have no idea what is in for nightlife (how old are you? It will make a difference).
For brunch, my favourite is Avenue on Mont Royal but the wait for brunch on the weekends is insanely long. El Dorado, which is across the street, is no longer any good. There are the usual recommendations for brunches, you can generally get excellent food suggestions at chowhound.

Parks: there is Mount Royal, of course; Lafontaine Park is also very nice.

Window shopping: main streets are Ste-Catherine (from, say, Guy to Papineau, there are better areas but it's rather a pleasant walk anyhow), St-Laurent (note: anglos will call it Saint Laurence, this is the same street -- see also de la Montange/Mountain, des Pins/Pine) from Sherbrooke to Saint Joseph, and St-Denis also from about Sherbrooke to St Joseph. Laurier, Mont Royal are also nice, and really wandering around the Old Port is fun, if tourist hubby.
posted by jeather at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2011


Definitely agree with L'Avenue being an AWESOME brunch place, but yeah, lines. L'Academie on St. Denis was pretty great, too, if it's still around. BYOWine, but there's an SAQ next door (The provincial liquor store chain, which is the only place to legally buy liquor in Quebec) where you can pick up wine for dinner. Really great value for really good food, too. Again, might be lines, depending when you go.

Enjoy, Montreal is a fantastic city!
posted by Grither at 10:32 AM on June 2, 2011


It's been a few years since I have been there.... Any grandstand seat is OK. There are walkways between all the grandstands but you (intentionally) can't see much from the walkways. You are kind of limited to being in the grandstand. That being said there is nothing from stopping you climbing a tree, or the fence, for a better view or even going and sitting in some empty seats until the real ticket holders show up. It's generally a really good natured affair, the people are real nice. Hope you have lots of fun.

Years ago, post race you could get onto the track and take a walk around. You could even sneak into the pits - if you can do this, go for it. It is an awesome experience.

The border crossing at RT89 will be a mess coming back into the USA. If you can, take a short trip west and enter through the Champlain Islands - Alburgh. Then drive through the islands and catch 89 again just above Burlington. It's may not be as fast but it is beautiful, and with the traffic at the border, you might end up ahead.
posted by alfanut at 10:42 AM on June 2, 2011


Seconding the McGill accommodation - I stayed there when we raced with the F1 crowd and it was always nice. The restaurant on the ground floor is pricey, though. At least for us...

Everything we've seen online has been onerously expensive.

Such is F1. You won't get a bargain bucket deal on F1 tickets as they are always expensive.

We're going to look to scalp on race day and try to get lawn tickets or preferably some view of the hairpin or the wall of champions (best points on the track imo). Any idea how feasibly scalping will be?

I saw people every year outside selling tickets. Being as we had passes anyway, I have no idea how much they were, though.

However I can't recall any 'grass' seating of any volume. Admittedly, I was mostly in the pits or the support car paddock, but it is at the very least predominately seating. Seating that is expensive, and being as everyone knows damn well that the hairpin is the best viewing spot, these tickets will be expensive and rare. As long as you get a seat, you'll be ok, though. There aren't too many crappy areas to watch from.

If you can see the pits, that is always interesting, but again, these will be the second most rare and expensive tickets.

And yes, as of three years ago, the track is open to walk around every evening. You won't get in the pits without a pass, though, most likely.
posted by Brockles at 10:46 AM on June 2, 2011


Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. For more color, we're all in the 22-26 year old range.
posted by Hurst at 12:17 PM on June 2, 2011


With gas at >$4, you'll eat up the toll savings with the extra distance. I'd say take I-95. It's a long trip anyway.

I visited Montreal several years back, not knowing that it was F1 weekend. There were no hotel rooms, the restaurants had lines down the block and traffic was bumper-to-bumper everywhere. If you don't have reservations, bring sleeping bags and extra food.
posted by KRS at 12:40 PM on June 2, 2011


For race-day grandstand tickets, I'd be prepared to pay about $150 apiece, though I'd expect it to be closer to $200 and up. With general-admission tickets for Sunday available for $80, I'd just grab those. If you're going for the weekend, then the three-day general-admission pass is a steal at $110. Either option will make your tickets a fixed cost, unlike scalping. Now, you won't see too much racing from the GA sections, so your best bet is to get to the track once the gates open, find a spot that has a good view of a TV screen, and stake out your spot.

Food and drink at the track is priced accordingly, but you're allowed to bring in coolers. Don't forget to pack sunscreen and earplugs, which are sold at exorbitant prices to those who come unprepared. Comfortable shoes are a must, since you'll be walking a lot over the weekend, and if you have lightweight camp/stadium chairs, that will be more comfortable than sitting on the ground.

You'll want to get the three-day Metro pass ($16) to get you to and from the circuit, and also around Montreal. If you stay outside the city, there's a big lot at the Longueuil station you can park at and ride in.

We usually rent a house for our GP trips, but have heard good things about McGill's New Residence Hall. If you don't mind sharing beds, the doubles run to about $200 per night with tax, and you could walk to downtown from there.

Enjoy -- there's nothing like seeing an F1 race live!
posted by evoque at 2:08 PM on June 2, 2011


Can't comment on the city, but I can say that you've chosen the right places on the track to see action.
posted by Urtylug at 4:11 PM on June 2, 2011


Take an afternoon and wander up the the Mile End. It's the Brooklyn of Montreal, full of great cafes, used bookshops, and folks your age.

For brunch, Beauty's is legendary, but be willing to wait on a weekend morning.
posted by vecchio at 4:45 PM on June 2, 2011


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