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Montreal - Old City (Vieux Montreal)

Vieux Montreal
Vieux-Montreal is where Montreal grew from a small settlement to a French town, then became the port of entry to the Great Lakes and a Canadian metropolis. Long before Jacques Cartier arrived in 1535 on his voyage of exploration, Iroquois lived on the island of Montreal. Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve arrived in 1642 to set up a Catholic mission and named the town Ville-Marie (City of Mary). In the 18th century, Montreal (as it was now called) had an annual fur-trading fair and busy marketplace along the old port.
  Pointe-a-Calliere Museum of Archeology and History (Musee d’Archeologie et d’Histoire de Montreal) – Make the Archeology Museum your first stop in the old city. Here at Pointe-a-Calliere is the actual site where the city began. Inside the museum, after a multimedia presentation, you walk down through underground passages and excavated ruins. Kids can see the ancient Catholic cemetery, an old stone sewer where the little St. Pierre River once flowed, marketplace in 1750 and old customs house, including bits of the old cobblestone streets, foundations and water pipes for fountains. Don’t miss the five dioramas that show Place-Royale in different eras, from 1350 – 1871.
Chateau Ramezay
  Chateau Ramezay Museum (Musee du Chateau Ramezay) – In 1705, Claude de Ramezay, the governor of Montreal, built “the finest house in Canada.” Upstairs, the rooms have artifacts from Hochelaga, Indian spears, carved cradleboard and moccasins, model of a birch bark canoe, and a salon covered with fancy wood paneling and aristocratic portraits. Downstairs, kids can discover life in the 18th century Montreal – a common room which was a bedroom, kitchen and family room in one, period clothing (very pointy shoes!), swords and pistols.
    Place Jacques Cartier – From the Chateau Ramezay, head out to Place Jacques Cartier. In the 19th century, fruits, vegetables and flowers were sold on the square, but today it’s a great place to get a snack and watch street performers. From the square, wander down Rue Saint-Paul, one of the oldest streets in Montreal, or walk down to the waterfront, the Vieux-Port.
    Amphi-bus tours – On Rue de la Commune, pick up a tour that goes on land and sea in an amphibious vehicle. On the tour, you’ll go through Vieux Montreal streets, around Mont Royal, then plunge into the St. Lawrence River, with lots of narrated history along the way. May to October.
Notre Dame Montreal
  Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame) – Notre-Dame cathedral in Montreal, is not only one of the biggest cathedrals, but the monumental interior in the French Gothic style is totally covered with carvings, statues, paintings, massive bronze altarpiece, and glowing stained glass windows. This basilica was built in the 19th century, on the site of an earlier and smaller stone church. The stained glass windows portray religious figures from the history of Montreal – de Maisonneuve carries a cross, Jeanne Mance is surrounded by the sick and needy. Inside the cathedral, sit down so kids can admire the amazing ceiling, hundreds of gilded stars sparkle in a deep blue ceiling.
    Place d’Armes –
    In the square in front of the cathedral, check out the statue in the center. De Maisonneuve is on top, around the bottom are four other historical figures of Montreal - an Iroquois Indian, Jeanne Mance (with the baby), Lambert Closse (solider and his dog), and Charles le Moyne (a colonist and early governor of Montreal, holding a sickle and wheat).
      Horse carriage ride - Go for a horse carriage (caleche) ride around Vieux Montreal, clip clopping on the stone-lined streets. Your driver is bound to have lots of historical info.
   

Fun food

     

For a dress-up afternoon tea, the Hotel St. James is fun – a selection of scones with Devonshire cream and jam, smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, fresh berries and petit fours.

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