Montreal stopover in seven hours: What to do?

Montreal stopover in seven hours: What to do?

The summer holidays in Winnipeg was over and it was time to go back to the Netherlands. We had three weeks of nice experiences and discovery of history and culture of Winnipeg and of Canada. Most of them are mentioned in my previous blog Discover Winnipeg Canada: Free and non-free things to do for family. In this blog, I am going to take you to another city of Canada via our short stopover in this French inspired place of Montreal. The seven hours Montreal stopover gives us an excuse to get out of the airport and to explore this city. At first, we were quite a bit hesitant since we were afraid that if things do not go the way we plan, we might miss our flight back to Europe. But then we thought that it might be a lost opportunity if we don’t try. Thus, we decided to push through. Thanks to the internet and google, we were able to prepare in advance for the trip and to anticipate what we can expect once we land in Montreal.

Montreal stopover (Vauquelin square)
In front of the Fountain at Vauquelin Square.

Decisions to make during your Montreal stopover:

The internet is a very good source of information when you want to know on hand the things that you have to do when going to an unfamiliar place. In our case, we googled and read some tips and tricks when having stopover in Montreal to save time and to be well-informed travelers. In the end, you don’t want to go on a battle without knowing the battlefield and your enemies! 😀 Below are some of the considerations you need to take into account if you decide to step out of the airport and tour Montreal with the limited amount of time.

1. To use over the counter luggage holder or not?

If you have some luggage, you may not want to bring it with you in exploring the city. Thus it is good to know that there is an over the counter luggage holders inside the airport. They can take care of your belongings for CAD $8.5 per piece. All you have to do is to show your passport and your boarding pass, then the receptionist will give you a receipt that you can pay once you pick up the luggage. Imagine the freedom if you travel very lightly during the seven hours of Montreal stopover. You can quickly move from one place to another without having the burden of your luggage’s weight!

Old Town Montreal
Still smiling despite the challenges of traveling with two kids (photo in Old Town Montreal).

2. Which place to explore in your Montreal stopover?

After leaving your luggage, the next question that you might have in mind is where to go? Similar to us, we experience this dilemma. In order for us to decide, we considered the available number of hours that we had to explore, the distance of the place that we are going to visit, and of course, what do we really want to see. Through a bit of googling, we stumbled the site of The Culture Trip for things to do when there is a lay-over in Montreal. The information on this site gave us an idea on where to go. The site recommended visiting The Old Port for three hours lay-over and the city center for five hours. In our case, we decided to go to the Old Port alone due to its close distance to the airport and simply because we love French cultures, which is the feature of the Old Port.

Old Port Montreal is very accessible when having Montreal stopover.
By entering the Old Port, there are lots of restaurants to be found.

3. How to go to your chosen destination in Montreal?

Now that we know our destination, the next decision to make is how to go to our chosen destination. Should we use public transport or hire a private one? Choosing the mode of transport depends on the money, time availability, and convenience. The Old Port is approximately only 20 minutes while the city center takes 35 minutes, both from the airport via taxi. You must be aware though that going back to the airport might take a little bit longer during rush hours. Since we have two kids and we want to travel with convenience, we chose to take the taxi. The taxi has a flat rate of CAD $41 (as of 2019), as compared to taking a shuttle that costs more or less around CAD $10.00. The shuttle might take a little longer and less comfortable when traveling with young ones. In case you opt for using taxi, be aware that some taxi drivers may ask for tips. Thus, it is up to you whether to give them tips or to stick to the flat rate.

My impression of the Old Port in our Montreal stopover

It is unfair to write a blog on things to do and to see during our Montreal stopover since we only had a few hours to experience the Old Port. Thus, in this blog I’ll simply tell my impressions of the Old Port Montreal for a few hours of visit. Firstly, Montreal is a family friendly place, especially during summer. We witnessed some kind of festivals and stalls around its Old Port. There are also fun family activities such as zip line, wall climbing, and kayaking.

Zip Line in the Old Port Montreal.
Some fun family activities inside the Old Port.

At the back of La Grande roue de Montreal is the playground for small kids. This is nice for family to rest and to enjoy the sight seeing of Montreal.

Relaxing during our Montreal stopover.
Relaxing in the playground while enjoying the view of Montreal.

Of course, in addition to being a family friendly place, I would say that Montreal is a Paris version of Canada. There are many resemblances of Paris in this place – the language, architecture, famous icons, and many more, as I will discuss in the next section of my blog. If you are interested to know more about Paris, you can check my blog Discover Paris with family and friends.

Montreal: A Paris version of Canada

1. The official language of Montreal is French.

Montreal is a previous French colony and it is interesting to see that the influence of France still lives in the city. In addition to English, the official language of Montreal including other cities in Quebec region is French. Despite the French selling the territory of Montreal and other colonies in Canada, to the British empire during the Treaty of Versailles, the French language still manage to persist and to be incorporated in the present lives of the people. So if you know French and you want to practice this language, Montreal is one of the place to visit!

Quai Victoria Montreal
The view of old and modern buildings in Montreal (taken at the Quai Victoria)

2. The streets of Montreal resemble famous Parisian streets.

Of course, if the language of the city is French, it makes sense that some of its street names are also of Parisian (and some of other French city) origin. These street names that can be found in Montreal include Champ de Mars and Rue Saint-Paul. Champ de Mars in Paris is where you can find the Eiffel tower. In the case of Montreal, Champ de Mars is a place where the foundations of the fortifications, the stone walls, that surrounded the city up until the early 19th century are still visible in the region. The Rue Saint-Paul Street in Marais Paris is full of maze and passages that has a medieval character. In the case of Montreal, Rue Saint-Paul is the oldest street in Montreal and is home to many art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.

French street names.
Street names of Montreal in French language.

The other famous street names in Montreal include the Rue Sainte-Catherine and Rue de Notre Dame. These names of the streets could also be found in its mother country, somewhere in Bordeaux, a region at the South West of France.

3. Some famous Parisian icons are similar with those in Montreal.

Not only the French language and street names have been adapted in Montreal, but also some of the famous icons found in Paris. If Paris has the famous pyramid inspired Louvre Museum, Montreal also has exactly this pyramid called the PY1 Pyramid. The PY1 pyramid is an old architecture of Montreal that hosts worldwide shows such as multimedia, concerts, etc.

View of PY1 which has a pyramid structure synonymous to Louvre museum.

Next to Louvre museum is the famous Notre Dame cathedral of France. Interestingly, Montreal also has exactly the same architecture and name. It would be interesting to see these similar structures during your Montreal stopover.

Visit Notre Dame Cathedral during stopover in Montreal.
In front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal.

4. The Parisian architectures are also visible in Montreal.

Since the French sold Montreal to the British, the architectural influence of the British in Montreal are still visible through some of the Victorian style buildings. However, it is interesting to see that the French architecture also still persists in the city. Some buildings have steep, almost vertical, design rooftops, which is actual a French style.

Victorian style building
Victorian style buildings in Montreal.

5. Montreal is a also a busy city.

Just like the city of Paris, many tourists flock Montreal more particularly in the summer time. You’ll find that the streets are crowded by both people and cars, and there are many historical and modern buildings that surround the city. Of course, Paris, like many other European cities, is still busier as compared to Montreal.

Old Port Montreal.
The crowd in Montreal street during summer.

6. Montreal has lots of European restaurants.

If you don’t know that you are in Canada, probably you might think that you are in Europe due to many European restaurants, more particularly French ones, that are surrounding the city! It is nice to indulge yourself with these European cuisines especially after a tiring hours of travel.

European food
Dining-in in a European restaurant in Montreal.

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