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Jul 23, 2001 02:54 PM

First time in Montreal

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I'm going to Montreal in Sept. How's the weather? I'll be staying at Inter-Continental Hotel in the Old Montreal. How's the area? Is it easy to get around? Also, do we need to rent a car once we're there? Thanks.

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  1. I haven't been back to Montreal in over a decade, but I lived there for four years so I do know something (I hope). September is an excellent time to visit. I don't know where you're from, but the temperatures are like New York + 2 to 3 weeks during the fall. No, you don't need a car as long as you're willing to use the Metro and do some walking. As far as the hotel location goes, it's close to a lot of things but not in the middle of them so it might take a walk or a metro ride to get there. It's on the fringes of Old Montreal, for instance, not in the heart.

    Hope this helps.

    11 Replies
    1. re: rjka

      Thanks Rjka.
      I live in New York City. Is Montreal somewhat like NY? I meant easy to get around by metro or walkin...and hard to find parking space. I also plan to go out at nite. Is it safe to take public transporation late at nite? I'm thinking to fly up there, but airfares cost over $300 (For a flight just a bit over an hour)!! Do you know how long is a drive from NY? Also any suggestions on what not to miss would be a great help.

      1. re: Leeza

        I visited Montreal only briefly, back in 1996. That said:

        The Metro is terrific! They come every 2 minutes, or so it seemed. I don't believe they run all night, however. In that respect, New York's subway system is superior to all or almost all others.

        I don't think you need to be concerned with safety in Montreal. You're a New Yorker. You'll have your wits about yourself, by default. I'm guessing that Montreal has a lower crime rate than New York.

        The drive from NYC should take about 8 hours. Amtrak also goes there: Trains through the Adirondacks take about 8 hours, while those which go through Vermont take longer.

        One question about airfares: Did you check If not, try it and see what fares they come up with.

        1. re: Leeza

          Pan's points are right. When I lived there, parking was not too difficult, but I think that many of the lots have been turned into buildings. I found it a very safe city but there are a few isolated deserted areas you probably don't want to be in very late at night. As long as you're in the main city you should be fine. As far as things to see, I always thought the best part was just wandering around. You should see Old Montreal, Rue St. Denis, Boulevard St. Laurent, Mount Royal Park for starters.

          1. re: Leeza

            I find Montreal to be the alternative cosmopolitan city anywhere in the vicinity of the northeast. During my interim years living in Boston (away from NYC), choking on all that pronvicialism, Montreal was a great alternative to spending a long weekend in NYC. Great eating, sights, nightlife and shopping. From NYC, it's about a 6-hour drive. September should be quite nice there. I was there over Labor day two years ago, and it was still on the hot side (near 90°).

            For food, check out some of the "smoked meat" places in the Jewish districts. Schwartz's is the classic and rivals anything NYC has. For more along that line, there are the classic Montreal bagel shops in the Outremont district that are worthy of a visit -- a very different style of bagel than we're accustomed to in NYC. Also on the downscale side, there are many quality middle eastern holes-in-the-wall places that are good, quick and cheap. I regretted not being able to eat at Toqué, for which there is much commentary on this board. Might want to make a reservation soon. In the Plateau Mt. Royal area, my best meals were at L'Express, Le Colombe, and Bistro Continental. For classic french, I really enjoyed Chez L'eveque in Outremont (the 4-course lunch was a bargain).

            For nightlife, there's a lot happening along St. Catherine and up St. Laurent. On St. Laurent the activity seems to peak probably at 2-4am (it was pretty mild at midnight by comparison). Many sections of St. Catherine seem to cater to more of the tourist and bridge and tunnel types (Montreal is an island after all), and St. Laurent has more of an East Village-Flat Iron district ambiance. The old city area tends to be pretty touristy during the day, and I can't speak much to the nightlife in that area since I was having too much fun on St. Laurent each night.

            Oh, and notice that the sun sets to the north in Montreal. Hope this helps. Cheers.

            1. re: Eric Eto

              Thanks for all the great help!

              I did check out orbitz and other discounted airfare costs USD$300 and up for that weekend (LGA - YUL direct). Can someone advice me on alternative airport nearby Montreal? I'm still debating whether or not I'm driving up there...6 or more hours is a long drive. Plus, I'm going there during labor day weekend..I'm sure traffic is going to be havoc. One thing I'm concerned is getting around at night without a car. How about taxi? Is it expensive and easy to find one?

              Can anyone recommend a great website to find more information on Montreal?

              1. re: Leeza

                You might consider flying to Burlington, VT and then renting a car from there. Montreal is little more than an hour away from there (without traffic).

                1. re: Eric Eto

                  Thanks a bunch.

                  No wonder airfares are all booked up for that weekend. I should have booked way in advance :-(. I'm still looking to see what's the best deal out there.

                  I'm so excited about this trip. Montreal sounds like a really fun place. By the way, Is Sept 3 also Labor Day there? Is everything (stores, malls, restaurants) going to be closed?

                2. re: Leeza

                  Try the Montreal Newspapers for more information - I think it's the Montreal Gazette - sorry I don't have the link here, but I found it using a search engine. There's probably an entertainment type guide you can find doing that as well.

                  One thing, that weekend is just before the Canada-US AIDS Vaccine Ride and there will be some 4000+ folks coming in for that week - ride leaves Montreal on Sept. 5 but I know lots are flying in on that weekend before Labor Day, so if you don't have hotel reservations, might want to check into that soon!

                  The Montreal Metro also has a website you can use with maps and such online.


                  1. re: Leeza

                    Before I took the train to Montreal I looked over the Montreal e-guide and found it helpful.


                    1. re: Leeza

                      What are the best French/Quebec restaurant in Montreal?
                      What are the best Asian restaurants?

                      1. re: Leeza

                        What are the 5 best French/Quebec restaurants in Montreal?
                        Also what are best Asian ones?

                3. I think you won't have any problems getting around. One of the things that I do is take a cab to the nearest metro station and then take the metro to as close as I can get, and then another cab if necessary. The metro system here is great, and I've always felt safe there.

                  I wouldn't bother renting a car. Most of the places you'll want to go to have terrible parking and it's easier to get around by metro/taxi/bus...or the proverbial Montreal BMW (Bus/Metro/Walk)

                  I live here and we haven't bothered w/ getting a vehicle since it's so cheap for us to get where we need to go.

                  You'll also be not too far from Chinatown where there are some amazing (and some atrocious!) restaurants. One of the things hubby and I like to do on our oh-too-few days off is pick up some Vietnamese "subs" in Chinatown and head down to the Old Port for a picnic lunch and to people watch. You could do all of that on foot.

                  I hope you enjoy your stay...I just LOVE this city!

                  1. I appreciate all the info posted here, but considering that the query was not about the food in Montreal, and the discussion has primarily been about other aspects of tourism there, I suggest followups be posted on the Not About Food Board. I've started a new thread there, linked below.