Underground City Montreal
In french we call it le RÉSO (réseau) or La Ville Souterraine, which translates to “the network” and “the underground city”. First built during 1960’s, it now, through a network of tunnels, corridors, and plazas connects shoppers to over 1,000 retailers and restaurants. This city beneath the city, is most advantageous during those long winter months, making for convenient shopping and commuting without the slush and oversized coat. Needless to say, this alternative route can seem a bit daunting at first, and I’m not going to lie to you, it is pretty confusing if you don’t know your way around. So don’t worry about it, getting lost is part of the experience! But hey, just to be safe here is the map, and below are 10 places that you must drop by!
(Photo credit: http://fr.academic.ru)
This shopping mall is located at the very centre of underground Montreal; it is four stories high and home to over 100 stores, a food court, and is host to many cultural events. Connecting through the McGill metro station, it is often considered the city’s main artery!
(Photo credit: http://www.destinationcentreville.com)
Cinema du Parc is an independent cinema that offers a variety of programmings and screenings that stem from indie flicks to artistic documentaries to great feature films. It is truly a gem for artistic minds, and of course it is accessible by the underground city!
(Photo credit: Joseph Yarmush)
This was Canada’s first museum devoted strictly to contemporary art. Displaying work by Québec, Canadian and international artists, its collections include contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs, installation, video and works on paper. Make sure to check out their latest exposition: L’avenir (looking forward). (Conveniently accessible via the subterranean.) (Photo credit: Joel Lemay)
(Photo credit: Alex Chinien)
Coffee fanatics know how to locate this place by heart, but for those who want to find it without getting lost in the burrows of city, look for the blue neon sign. This trendy espresso bar is literally a hole in the wall, and located in the tunnel between Eaten Center and Ville-Marie. The coffee here is unbelievably rich and flavourful, plus it comes with super friendly service. Make sure to fuel up here!
7. Go to the contemporary art Festival Art Souterrain
Each year this non-profit organization showcases international art institutions, artists, and the architectural and cultural heritage of downtown Montreal’s underground city. This unique festival aims at taking art and artist out of their traditional exhibition spaces. Last year artists spanned through 7 km of the underground city! (Photo credit: Constance Cordier)
Le Montréalais is Hotel Fairmont’s Queen Elizabeth’s Bistro-Bar! This two story bistro offers a variety of succulent Mediterranean dishes, and even hosts a buffet-style brunch every Sunday. (Don’t forget to try out one of their pastries, because they are to die for!) Of course, the hotel is accessible by underground!
Performing arts, gastronomy, free outdoor family activities, and a full night of exquisitely original discoveries await you at the festival Montréal en Lumière. As one of the largest winter festivals in the world, fans experience the joy of Montreal during wintertime! Each year the festival closes on the wildest night of the year called La Nuit Blanche! Once a year a free shuttles service is offered to locals and tourists to enjoy a variety of activities, installations, exhibitions, and parties! (From February 19 to March 1st).
(Picture Credit: Frédérique Ménard-Aubin)
4. Visit the gorgeous metro station: Station Champs-de-Mars
Champs-de-Mars metro station was designed by Adalbert Niklewicz back in 1966, and displays galsswork by Marcelle Ferron, who was one of the signatories of the manifesto Refus global, written in 1948 by painter Paul-Émile Borduas. This is the only station where sunlight reaches the train platforms, and it is gorgeous! (Photo credit: http://www.amontrealerabroad.com)
3. Grab a Delicious Hestia Tea
Crédit photo: Le
If you’ve ever watched Dragon Den Quebec and wondered what they consider a good business idea, Hestia Tea is the answer. Tucked away in the Ville-Marie tunnel, this magical tea joint received the support and financial backing of those Dragons. Stay warm and cozy inside while you enjoy their unique concoctions such as a “matcha, ginger, and lime” tea, that you can sip along with one of their delicious scones. They’ve also got a loyalty program– one more reason to keep coming back for more!
Formerly known as the Mount Royal Hotel, this 1920’s hotel was refurbished into an upscale shopping centre. Its beautiful architecture and gorgeous interior still holds reminisces of the hotel, like the luxurious ceiling of the big entrance lobby. Decked out with a spectacular chandelier from the Monte Carlo casino and six bird-human sculptures under the main skylight by the Inuit artist David Ruben, this high-end shopping centre is one of Montreal’s underground gems. (Picture credit: http://www.laviecanadienne.com)
1. Skate indoors at Atrium Le 1000
Ice skating is one of the most classic activities you can do in Montreal. At Atrium Le 1000, you can do it year round! That’s one of the many pros of having an underground city. Located on the main floor of Quebec’s tallest building, Le 1000 De La Gauchetière, it’s easily accessible by the underground. Make your way there from Monday, from 11:30am to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30am to 6pm, Saturday from 12:30pm to 9pm and Sunday from 12:30pm to 6pm. Happy skating!
(Photo credit: Philippe Renault)
BONUS: Don’t forget to check out Canadian photographer Andrew Emond’s photo blog Montreal Underground, documenting the City of Montreal’s sewers and other underground infrastructures.