"A Characterful Canadian City..." Montreal by johngayton
Montreal Travel Guide: 3,654 reviews and 6,821 photos
Montreal was my third major Canadian city visit, after Toronto and Ottawa, and despite only having spent very limited time here has been the city that I've been most impressed with so far.
The main downtown area where we arrived, by bus, is very much a jungle of modern concrete and glass and the bus route (coming from Ottawa) into the city wasn't particularly impressive - or should I say not particularly memorable (because I can't remember anything much about it!).
What I do remember though was after debussing, finding the Metro and arriving just round the corner from our hotel was that there was a pretty useful little depanneur on the street - that's when Montreal started to grow on me!
Montreal really is a fascinating city: it's clean, organised, diverse, courteous, visually interesting, accessible, cultured and multi-cultural, historical and most of all it has a foreign feel to it (which obviously the French language gives it). I loved the buzzy bars, continental-style cafes and restaurants, the Old Town as well as the new, the individuality of the various quarters. But what I personally found the most fascinating aspect of the city is the RESO - the city under the city.
Pretty much everything that is within Montreal's downtown also exists below it - there are shops of every description, bars & restaurants. There are services such as dry cleaners, dentists, medical services, barbers, shoe-repairers. There's residential spaces and office spaces, cinemas and even internet Wi-Fi zones.
The RESO (from the French "reseau", meaning "network") was developed during the construction of the Metro in the early 60's as a means of creating a multi-level city whereby pedestrians, urban traffic and public transport share the same space but at the same time are kept separate.
Whilst this mole-like existence may seem to be a bit of a futuristic nightmare it is in fact quite the contrary. The subterranean passages are spacious, well-lit and aesthetically pleasant. Also, given that Montreal endures harsh winters and uncomfortably hot summers, the fact that the populus can work, shop, eat-out, socialise and generally get around without being exposed to the extremities of the weather, nor the chaotic city traffic makes the city-within-a-city understandably popular. It is estimated that over half-a-million people use the RESO on a daily basis and the different sections have developed their own characteristics, just like the above-ground neighbourhoods.
In total there are, at present, about 32 kilometres of tunnels underlying the whole downtown area with more than 120 overground access points and it is possible to walk almost the whole breadth of Downtown (about 2 miles) without having to surface.
- Pros:Part of Quebec and so has Depanneurs on the Corners!
- Cons:C-C-C-Cold Winds Howling Thro' Downtown in Winter...
- In a nutshell:...But at least you can always escape underground!
Just a little tip for all you drivers out there. In the rest of Quebec Province it is perfectly OK to make a right turn... more travel advice
This was something that caught my eye whilst wandering around the Old Port and the pic duly taken without knowing what... more travel advice
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