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Montreal, Quebec City Info
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North America > Canada > Quebec
Montreal Quebec City




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Facts

Population: 3.4 million

Area: 61 sq. miles

Time: Eastern Standard Time (When it is 12:00 Noon in New York City; it is 12:00 Noon in Montreal.

When to Go

Summer and fall are popular because of the mild weather and a number of festivals: the 10-day Festival International de Jazz in late June, the International Fireworks Competition in late June and July, and the World Film Festival and Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in August. For winter sports enthusiasts, December – March are the months of choice. Fierce weather is never a problem in Montreal – visitors can always retreat to the pleasant year-round climate of the Underground City! Montreal is beautiful at any time of the year.

The following are the average monthly temperature ranges for Montréal:

Month

High

Low

January

23F

9F

February

25F

12F

March

36F

23F

April

52F

36F

May

65F

48F

June

74F

58F

July

79F

63F

August

76F

61F

September

68F

53F

October

57F

43F

November

42F

32F

December

27F

16F

Holidays

New Year's Day, (January 1)

Good Friday, Easter Monday,

Victoria Day (third Monday in May)

St. Jean Baptiste Day (June 24) is a provincial holiday.

Canada Day (July 1)

Labour Day (first Monday in September)

Thanksgiving (second Monday in October)

Remembrance Day (November 11)

Christmas, and Boxing Day (December 25, December 26)

Banks & Offices

Most banks in Canada are open Monday through Thursday 10-3 and Friday 10-5 or 6. Some banks are open longer hours and also on Saturday morning. All banks are closed on national holidays. Banks, shopping malls, many large hotels, and some gas stations have automated teller machines (ATMs) that are accessible around the clock.

Museums & Sights

Hours at museums vary, but most open at 10 or 11 and close in the evening. Some smaller museums close for lunch. Many museums are closed on Monday; some make up for it by staying open late on Wednesday, often waiving admission.

Churches are usually closed and locked (to prevent vandalism) except during scheduled religious services The Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, however, is open daily, usually from 9-6.

Customs & Duties

Arriving in Canada

For information, contact: Revenue Canada (2265 St. Laurent Blvd. S, Ottawa, ON K1G 4K3, 204/983-3500; 800/461-9999 in Canada).

Emergencies

Ambulance, fire, police ( 911).

Hospital Emergency Rooms

Montréal General Hospital (1650 av. Cedar, 514/937-6011).

Late-Night Pharmacies

Many pharmacies are open until midnight, including Jean Coutu and Pharmaprix. Some are open around the clock, including the Pharmaprix on chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges.

Guided Tours

Boat Tours

From May through October, Amphi Tour ( 514/849-5181 or 514/386-1298) offers a unique one-hour tour of Vieux-Montréal and the Vieux-Port on both land and water in an amphibious bus.

Bateau-Mouche ( 514/849-9952) runs four harbor excursions and an evening supper cruise daily May through October. The boats are reminiscent of the ones that cruise the canals of the Netherlands : wide-beamed and low-slung, with a glassed-in passenger deck. Boats leave from the Jacques Cartier Pier at the foot of Place Jacques-Cartier in the Vieux-Port.

Bus Tours

Gray Line ( 514/934-1222) offers almost a dozen different tours of Montréal and environs from May through October, fewer the rest of the year. It has pickup service at the major hotels and at Info-Touriste (1001 Sq. Dorchester).

The double-decker buses of Imperial Tours ( 514/871-4733) follow a nine-stop circuit of the city. You can get off and on as often as you like and stay at each stop as long as you like. There's pickup service at major hotels.

Language

Although Canada has two official languages : English and French : the province of Québec has only one. French is the language you hear most often on the streets in Québec; it is also the language of government, businesses, and schools. Most French Canadians speak English as well, but it is useful to learn a few French phrases before you go. Canadian French has many distinctive words and expressions.

Money

ATMs

ATMs are widely available.

Currency

The units of currency in Canada are the Canadian dollar and the cent, in almost the same denominations as U.S. currency ($5, $10, $20, 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, etc.). The $1 and $2 bill are no longer used; they have been replaced by $1 and $2 coins (known as a "loonie" because of the picture of a loon that appears on the coin, and a "toonie," respectively).

Taxes

A goods and services tax (GST) of 7% applies on virtually every transaction in Canada except for the purchase of basic groceries.

A $15 airport tax (for capital improvements) is charged when you leave. You can pay cash or with a credit card.

You can get a refund of the GST paid on purchases taken out of the country and on short-term accommodations of less than one month, and more than two days.Rebate forms, are available from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (Visitor Rebate Program, Summerside Tax Centre, 275 Pope Rd., Suite 104, Summerside, PE C1N 6C6, 902/432-5608; 800/668-4748 in Canada, www.ccra-adrc.gc.ca). (Be sure to use the official government form. Private firms distribute “official looking” forms, obtain the refund from the government on your behalf, and charge a commission for the service. The government charges no fees. )

Always save the original receipts from stores and hotels (not just credit-card receipts), and be sure the name and address of the establishment is shown on the receipt. Original receipts are not returned. To be eligible for a refund, receipts must total at least $200, and each individual receipt must show a minimum purchase of $50.

Telephones

The country code for Canada is 1. The area code for Montréal is 514. You do not need to dial the three-digit area code when making a call from within the same code.

Arriving & Departing

By Air

Dorval International Airport (YUL) (975 blvd. René-Vachon, Dorval, 514/394-7377), 221⁄2 km (14 mi) west of the city, handles all scheduled foreign and domestic flights and some charter operations.

Mirabel International Airport (YMX) (12600 rue Aérogare, Mirabel, 514/394-7377), 541⁄2 km (34 mi) northwest of the city, serves most charter traffic.

Passengers departing Montréal must pay a $15 airport-improvement fee before they can board their plane.

Flying time to Montréal is 11⁄2 hours from New York, 2 hours from Chicago, 6 hours from Los Angeles, and 61⁄2 hours from London.

Transfers Between the Airport and Town

By Bus

L'Aerobus ( 514/931-9002) offers shuttle service into town from Mirabel and Dorval. Shuttle service from Mirabel to the terminal next to the Gare Centrale (777 rue de la Gauchetière) is frequent

By Bus

Greyhound Canada ( 800/661-8747) has service from Toronto and points west in Canada.

All buses arrive at and depart from the city's downtown bus terminal, the Station Central d'Autobus Montréal (505 blvd. de Maisonneuve Est, 514/842-2281), which connects with the Berri-UQAM Métro station.

By Car

Montréal is accessible from the rest of Canada via the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1), which enters the city from the east and west via Routes 20 and 40. The New York State Thruway (I-87) becomes Route 15 at the Canadian border, and then it's 47 km (29 mi) to the outskirts of Montréal. U.S. I-89, from New Hampshire and Vermont, becomes Route 133 at the border, eventually joining Route 10 to reach Montréal. I-91, from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, becomes Route 55 at the border and also joins up with Route10.

By Train

The Gare Centrale, on rue de la Gauchetière between rues University and Mansfield (behind Le Reine Elizabeth), is the rail terminus for all trains from the United States and from other Canadian provinces. It is connected underground to the Bonaventure Métro station.

Amtrak ( 800/872-7245) Adirondack leaves New York's Penn Station every morning for the 101⁄2-hour trip through scenic upstate New York to Montréal. The Vermonter, which travels between Washington, D.C., and St. Alban's, Vermont, is also connected with Montréal, via a through bus connection provided by Amtrak.

VIA Rail ( 514/989-2626; 888/842-7245; 800/361-5390 in Québec) connects Montréal with all the major cities of Canada, including Québec City, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

By Bus

Société de Transport de Montréal ( 514/288-6287), (STM), administers the buses as well as the Métro, so the same tickets and transfers (free) are valid on either service.

By Car

Car Rentals

Rental cars are readily available in Montreal.

Insurance.

For insurance information, contact Insurance Bureau of Canada ( 416/362-9528; 800/387-2880 in Canada, www.ibc.ca).

Gasoline

Gasoline is always sold in liters (a gallon=3.8 liters). Lead-free is called sans plomb.

Rules of the Road

Road signs are in French in Québec. The speed limit is posted in kilometers; on highways the limit is 100 kph (about 62 mph), and the use of radar-detection devices is prohibited : possession of such a device in a car, even if it is not in operation, is illegal in Québec.

Québec law forbids you to turn right on a red light.

By Subway

The Métro, or subway, is clean, quiet, and safe and it's heated in winter and cooled in summer. The Métro is also connected to the 18 miles of the Underground City. Each of the 65 stops has been individually designed and decorated. Free maps may be obtained at Métro ticket booths.

By Taxi

Taxis in Montréal all run on the same rate.


Neighborhoods

Montreal is laid out in a grid pattern and defined by neighborhoods and districts.

Downtown: This area displays the most striking elements of the dramatic Montréal skyline and contains the main railroad station, as well as most of the city's luxury and first-class hotels, principal museums, corporate headquarters, and largest department stores .It is loosely bounded by rue Sherbrooke to the north, boulevard René-Lévesque to the south, boulevard St-Laurent to the east, and rue Drummond to the west,

Downtown Montréal incorporates the neighborhood formerly known as "The Golden Square Mile," which once held dozens of mansions erected by the wealthy Scottish and English merchants and industrialists who dominated the city's politics and social life well into the 20th century. Many were torn down and replaced by skyscrapers after World War II. At the northern edge of the downtown area is the urban campus of prestigious McGill University.

Rue Crescent

One of Montréal's major dining and nightlife districts lies just west of western shadow of the downtown skyscrapers. It holds hundreds of restaurants, bars, and clubs of all styles between Sherbrooke and René-Lévesque, The party atmosphere is ongoing every evening, especially in warm weather, as the sidewalk cafes and balconies fill with revelers.

St.-Denis

Rue St-Denis, from rue Ste-Catherine Est to avenue du Mont-Royal, from the Latin Quarter downtown and continuing north into the Plateau Mont-Royal district is the entertainment center. Cafes, bistros, offbeat shops, and lively nightspots make this area what boulevard St-Germain is to Paris.

Boulevard St-Laurent

Métro St-Laurent and up Blvd. St-Laurent,

In the 1880s the first of many waves of Jewish immigrants escaping pogroms in Eastern Europe arrived. They called the street the Main, as in "Main Street." The Jews were followed by Greeks, Eastern Europeans, Portuguese, and Latin Americans. The 10 blocks north of rue Sherbrooke are filled with boutiques, restaurants, and galleries.

Chinatown

The Chinese first came to Montréal in large numbers after the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1880. They settled in an 18-block area between boulevard René-Lévesque and avenue Viger to the north and south, and near rues Hôtel de Ville and de Bleury on the west and east, an area now full of mainly Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants and shops.

Quartier Latin

The Université de Montréal was established here in 1893, and the students and academics called it the Latin Quarter. The university later moved to a larger campus. The area declined, but revived in the 1970s, after the opening of the Université du Québec à Montréal and the start of the Annual International Jazz Festival.

Vieux-Montréal

Home to the first European settlers, for almost three centuries this was the financial and political heart of the city. Government buildings, office buildings and warehouses, the largest church, the stock exchange, and the port were here. Vieux-Montréal (Old Montréal), was revitalized over the past 40 years.

Today it is a center of cultural life and municipal government. Most of the summer activities revolve around Place Jacques-Cartier, which becomes a pedestrian mall with street performers and outdoor cafés, and the Vieux-Port, one of the city's most popular recreation spots.

Place Jacques-Cartier

This two-block-long square at the heart of Vieux-Montréal opened in 1804 as a municipal market; during the summer it becomes a flower market. Rue St. Amable, a one-block lane southwest of Place Jacques-Cartier, is a marketplace for artists and craftspeople. The fashionable Rue St-Paul runs north-south through Place Jacques-Cartier.

The Underground City

During Montréal's long winters, life slows on the streets of downtown. People move down escalators and stairways into la ville souterraine. In the controlled climate, there is no worry of disruption of activities by the outdoor elements, It is possible to arrive at the railroad station, check into a hotel, go out for lunch at any of hundreds of fast-food counters and full-service restaurants, see a movie, attend a concert, conduct business, go shopping, and even take a swim-all without a thought for the weather!

There are now more than 1,600 shops, 40 banks, 200 restaurants, 10 Métro stations, and about 30 cinemas within easy reach of one another, and with no traffic snarls.

The Village

The city's gay and lesbian enclave, one of North America's largest, runs east along rue Ste-Catherine from rue St-Hubert to rue Papineau. This small but vibrant district, is filled with clothing stores, antique shops, bars, dance clubs, cafés, and the Gay and Lesbian Community Centre, at 1301 rue Ste-Catherine Est. A rainbow marks the Beaudry Métro station, in the heart of the neighborhood. Two major annual celebrations are the Diver/Cité in August and the Black & Blue Party in October.

Ile Ste-Helene

St. Helen's Island in the St. Lawrence River was altered extensively to become the site of Expo '67, Montréal's very successful world's fair. In the 4 years before the Expo opened, construction crews reshaped the island and doubled its surface area with landfill, then went on to create beside it an island that hadn't existed before, Ile Notre-Dame. The city built bridges and 83 pavilions. When Expo closed, the city government preserved the site and a few of the exhibition buildings. Parts were used for the 1976 Olympics, and today the island is home to Montréal's popular casino and an amusement park, La Ronde.



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