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Montreal - Downtown, Old Montreal and Underground City

May 29th, 2008

Montreal is the largest city in Quebec which is one of the 13 provinces and territories (what would be considered States in the USA) that comprise Canada. Just 10 years ago, something of a bleak mood prevailed in Quebec province. It seemed possible that the province would choose to fling itself into independence form the rest of Canada.

Since, Montreal has become a modern city in every regard, with skyscrapers in unexpected shapes and bright colors; a historic district that has been beautifully preserved; and a large area of artists’ lofts, boutiques, cafés and miles of restaurants. The official language of Montreal is French and it is among the the five largest French-speaking cities in the world. The population for Great Montreal Area is close to 4 millions people.

Montreal Twilight Panorama 2006.jpg

The popular neighborhoods in Montreal are Downtown, Old Montreal and the Underground City:

Downtown Montreal

Downtown Montreal is located entirely within the Ville Marie borough and it contains dozens of notable skyscrapers. Many popular restaurants are located in downtown and it is known as the business district of the city. It also includes most of the city’s large luxury and first class hotels, principal museums, main railroad station and department stores.

Montreal Sky.jpg

Old Montreal

Old Montreal is historic area located southeast of downtown containing many different attractions such as the Montreal city Hall, the Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica and the Montreal Science Centre.

Architecture and cobbled streets in Old Montreal have been maintained or restored and are frequented by horse-drawn coaches carrying tourists. Old Montreal was once a worldwide port, but shipping has been moved further east to a new larger site, leaving the Old Port as a historical area.

Montreal City Hall Jan 2006.jpg

Underground City

During Montreal’s long winters, life slows on the streets of downtown as people escape into la ville souterraine, a parallel subterranean universe. This underground “city” evolved when major building developments in the downtown put their below-street areas to profitable use, leasing space for shops and other enterprises. Over time, these spaces became connected with Metro stations and then with each other. It became possible to ride long distances, and walk shorter ones through mazes of corridors, tunnels and plazas. There are now more than 1,700 shops, hundreds of restaurants and more than 40 cinemas and theaters down there.

Halles, Central train station, Montreal 2006-01-09.JPG

Montreal is a great city to visit and I would recommend anybody who enjoy European culture but might not be willing to spend the money necessary to get there, to come check out the closest thing we have in North America. You won’t be disappointed and you will most likely want to come back.

Bon Voyage.

julienku Destinations, Travel, Travel Guide , , ,

Versailles - France

April 1st, 2008

Versailles, that was formerly the capital of the kingdom France, is now a wealthy suburb of Paris. It is only a 15-20 minutes ride away from Paris and it’s an extremely popular day trip for people visiting Paris.

As I was born in Versailles and I still have family living there, I’ve been there many times and it’s in my opinion one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The city is mainly known for its castle which is one of the largest one in Europe.


The “Chateau de Versailles” takes litteraly days if you want to see all of it but one of the most famous room in the castle (below) is Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty Versailles which officially ended World War I was signed on June 28, 1919.

Chateau de Versailles

Here is a video tour of the Halls of Mirrors

Besides the Chateau, the city is a treat to visit as it is a great place to raise children and the population is younger than most people would expected. So, it’s pretty lively city where concerts are often organized and where several international schools have been opened bringing an international flavor to the city.

Versailles also offers many excellent restaurants and is a treat for people looking for good food.

If you’re staying in Paris, take a train in the morning to Versailles. Spend the morning touring the Chateau and take a break to try one of the local restaurant for lunch. Then head for the spectacular gardens of the Chateau where you could just relax without realizing that you are only about 20 minutes away from one of the busiest city in Europe, Paris. Rent a bike to see more of the city and stop at a boulangerie (bakery) to enjoy one of many famous French pastries. Then visit one of the many art galleries or museums and finally decide which great restaurant you are going to try before taking the train back for Paris.

Bon Voyage!!!

julienku Travel, Travel Guide ,