First time in Montreal! What now?
November 2, 2007 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Montrealfilter: Next week, I am heading to Montreal for a conference with my S.O. Any tips on getting around? Where should we go?

We're flying in, and we're staying at a hostel near where the conference is taking place.

Some things we're thinking about:
1) Getting to and from the airport: cheapest route? We're arriving Friday morning, leaving Sunday around dinner time.
2) Cheap and tasty places to eat nearby?
3) Cheap and interesting sights to see?
4) Good shopping nearby?
5) We've been assuming the subway will be our friend-- is there any kind of transit pass we can get for the weekend so we're not always looking for change?
6) Anything else we should know?

I'll be tied up for much of the day time with conference stuff, but she won't. I will, however, have all day Sunday free. Neither of us is really into the club scene or anything like that. Neither of us speaks French very well. Also, neither of us has a lot of cash to throw around (as you might have guessed from the repeated use of the word "cheap").
posted by synecdoche to Travel & Transportation around Montreal, QC (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Since you're in Montreal, don't miss the really active party/rave scene.
posted by PowerCat at 5:57 PM on November 2, 2007

Here's an askme from me about the same topic.
posted by pravit at 5:59 PM on November 2, 2007

1. Taxi is flat rate of about $35 from airport to anywhere downtown. Cheaper is the shuttle bus from the airport that does a circuit of hotels, the main train/subsway station and the bus depot. I think it costs about $15 each way.

2. There is a good mix of asian, korean, middle-eastern restaurants in that area, if you head east you'll find other stuff. Bishop street (3 blocks east) has a good mix of irish, japanese, korean, venuzuelan). Crescent street (about 4-5 blocks east) has more bling crap... fun to watch drunken ginos there on a saturday night, but don't let them represent montreal, we're cooler than that.

3. All the interesting things to see are east of where you're staying, just to the west of you (atwater and ste-catherine) is where the old hockey arena (formerly the Forum, now the Pepsi Forum) is and when the Habs moved arenas most of the business in the area died. So head towards Guy, Crescent, etc.

4. Ste-Catherines is just shopping, walk east, you can go for about two miles before you run out of stuff, although it's mostly the more commercial stuff on that street. Head to St-Laurent, St-Denis, Mt-Royal for more interesting stuff.

5. You can buy a "lisiere" (pron lee-zi-air) of tickets (6 tickets for $11.75 = 3 round trips). I can't recall if they have a tourist pass anymore... best deal is the weekly pass but only starts monday and you can't buy it most other days.

6. Look up previous askme, 'cause it's pretty much all been said before.
posted by furtive at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2007

You can get to and from the airport by public transit if you want to go on the cheap. One bus fare ($2.75 cash, exact change - unless you have tickets or a pass) each. You'll have to take two buses (don't hand in your transfer until you get to the metro station!) to get to the metro, though. I don't recall the bus numbers off hand, but the public transit website has a "show me how to get there" itinerary tool.

Tourist passes are still available, you just have to go to certain stations to get them. Info here.
posted by CKmtl at 7:32 PM on November 2, 2007

Ah, here we go.

The 204 bus will take you from the airport to Dorval Station (train and bus, "Park'N'Ride" type of thing). From Dorval Station, you take the 211 to Lionel-Groulx metro station.
posted by CKmtl at 7:40 PM on November 2, 2007

It will be cold (scroll down to "Long term Forecast"). Not that cold yet, but you'll need a coat.

For shopping, just tell your wife to walk eastward on Ste-Catherine street from your hotel maybe till the Musée d'art contemporain (access to the permanent collection is free), or at least to the Indigo Bookstore near McGill College st. and back. She'll love it. Stores on both sides. Just stores. And she will be at all time 5mn away from a metro station one block North.

Don't worry about the language.
For Sunday brunch, I would go to Les Vivres a great vegan restaurant, very affordable. The quality of the food is fantastic (and I am not vegan), the crowd is cool, mostly English speaking (but we don't worry about the language). Weather permitting, you could walk back through or around the mountain (the Mount Royal Park).

On preview: what furtive said.
posted by bru at 7:47 PM on November 2, 2007

musee des beaux-arts is free for a while - it can be a nice place to hang out. has music listings and the montreal mirror (google it) is a good english weekly with loads of info/events.
posted by ouchitburns at 8:12 PM on November 2, 2007

Pony up the $16 or whatever it costs to take the shuttle and spare yourself the hassle of taking a city bus late at night in the cold. Seriously.
posted by furtive at 9:43 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

The street is called Sainte-Catherine. There is no S on the end. Here is a webcam view of it.

Cheap and tasty: Chinatown is not too far from where you're staying - if you walk east along Sainte-Catherine to shop, turn south on Saint-Laurent and walk till you see signs in Chinese. Most of the restaurants there are affordable, and competition keeps them good.

On the Sunday you might want to walk to Chinatown for dim sum and then keep walking south till you reach Old Montreal, the oldest part of the city near the waterfront, which has a lot of interesting old stuff that costs zero dollars to walk around and look at. If you want to peek into Notre-Dame without paying, tell them you're going in to say a prayer.

Alternatively, go the other way: walk uphill until you reach Mount Royal park.
posted by zadcat at 9:46 PM on November 2, 2007

CKmtl has it - that's what I did when I visited Montreal.

Also, make sure you don't get on the wrong bus - buses from the same route going in different directions will park in (nearly) the same spot, so make sure you get on the right one.
posted by pravit at 9:49 PM on November 2, 2007

Oh, one useful bit of trivia: in Montreal an entrée (in either language) is a starter, not a main course.
posted by zadcat at 9:54 PM on November 2, 2007

Be sure to check the ton of great previous threads on what to do/eat in Montreal.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:57 PM on November 2, 2007

If there are 2 of you, I don't think you save enough on the shuttle vs cab to make it worth it.

Don't forget that anything you want to buy (except food) comes with about 15% taxes...

There isn't anywhere in the city I'd be afraid to walk around alone, at any time, so *enjoy*.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:03 AM on November 3, 2007

I'd repeat what Salamandrous said, take the cab, it's a flat fee, brings you to your door, and will cost you a few dollars (less than ten) more than the shuttle.

If you want to take the uber cheap route though ($2.75 each) then take heed:

The 204 bus will take you from the airport to Dorval Station (train and bus, "Park'N'Ride" type of thing). From Dorval Station, you take the 211 to Lionel-Groulx metro station.

And then at Lionel-Groulx you take the green line metro heading towards Honoré-Beaugrand and get off three stops later at Guy-Concordia metro, which will be one block east and one block north of where you're staying. (e.g. head south on Guy street (downhill) towards Ste-Catherine and then turn right and walk east (away from downtown office towers) towards your hostel.

Also, don't forget when you get on the bus to get the little transfer from the bus driver (little paper with holes punched in it), and that when you get on the next bus to show it to the driver and keep it because you're going to have to use it at the metro if you don't want to pay additional fare.

If decide to walk from Lionel-Groulx (I wouldn't) it is more than a mile a way from you hostel, and a part of the trip is uphill, and you get to walk through some sketch neighbourhoods, so better off taking the metro.

Now, compare how many single points of failure there are in the above scenario with paying $16 to take the shuttle to the Sheraton and then walking about 6 blocks west and one block north? Or taking the cab.
posted by furtive at 10:53 AM on November 3, 2007

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