Montreal: Old Town Charm, Riverside Promenades, and One Very Adventurous Boat Ride

Now that I’ve written three food-related posts about Montreal (see here, here, and here), I suppose it’s time to discuss what we actually did to work off all those calories while visiting the city.

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We based ourselves in Old Town, which was exactly where I wanted to be. The thing that first drew me to Montreal was the idea that it was “the Paris of North America” – and I figured nowhere would more exemplify that than Old Town. Though it was of course touristy, I quite enjoyed this area. Cobblestone streets and lots of flowers? Sold.

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Speaking of flowers: I was more than a little enamored with the perfectly manicured floral displays scattered throughout Old Town.

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Another fixture of Old Town is, of course, Notre Dame. No, it’s not quite like being at the one in Paris, but Montreal’s Notre Dame is grand in its own right. We tagged along with one of the free guided tours that run regularly, and then came back later on our trip for a Sunday mass.

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Notre Dame

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We also paid a visit to another of Montreal’s grand cathedrals, Marie-Reine-du-Monde. Though a cranky caretaker quickly shooed us out as it was near closing time, I’m glad we got to at least take a quick peek at its fantastic interior.

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Less successful was our visit to the Château Ramezay museum, which contains exhibits on Montreal and Quebec at large. Unfortunately, our guided tour was slow moving and painfully boring (which I say as a person who actually loves and enjoys history). My mom and I even ended up sneaking out early! The gardens at Château Ramezay are lovely, however, and are well worth a quick visit.

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One of my favorite parts of our visit to Montreal were our walks along the water; luckily, our hotel was located right nearby the St. Lawrence River waterfront. We went one evening as the sun was setting and it was impossibly beautiful.

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Another river-related activity that we loved – but that I sadly have no pictures of – was taking a jetboat down the Lachine Rapids with Saute Moutons. Upon arrival, we listened to a short presentation on safety and what to expect and bundled up in life vests and rain gear. Riding down the rapids was crazy fun: the waves are huge, the crew members enthusiastically shout out chants in their bullhorn, and you get absolutely drenched. It may not have matched up with the refined, old world Montreal that I expected, but I loved it nonetheless, just as I loved Montreal at large for being a city that is both classic and modern.

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