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Thursday November 16 2017
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Cosmopolitan Montreal – a city of style PROUD: (Far left) – St Helen’s Island the site of Expo 67. The United States’ contribution is a geodesic dome. (Left) – The iconic Jacques Cartier Bridge, touched up for Montreal’s 375th birthday.
By Mike Yardley THE ISLAND metropolis of Montreal prides itself on being Canada’s most eclectic and cosmopolitan city, a city of style and elegance with a cracking culinary scene, impressively bilingual and where arts and culture thrive. All of this is wrapped within the venerable bones of a heritageproud city where the past and present overlay each other. It shivers through winter but shines in summer, with locals flocking to the patio bars and cafes that festoon Montreal with fabled al fresco exuberance. A great starting point is down in Place Royale at the Museum of Archaeology and History (Pointeà-Callière Museum.) Hop in the lift and head underground to the foundations of the city’s original French settlement of the 1640s. Revealed in 1989 following an archaeological dig, this striking museum has preserved the foundations, walls and unearthed artefacts of the 17th-century settlement, all brilliantly illuminated. Before wandering through the remains of the six buildings, a stirring multi-media show whisks you through a potted history of Montreal’s development, its highs
and lows over 375 years. It’s a dramatic, poignant and uplifting narration of the city’s back-story. Place Royale is situated in Old Montreal’s port district (VieuxPort De Montreal) gracing the banks of the St Lawrence River. Founded by the French in 1642, the cobbled harbourside area of Vieux-Montreal stretches back from the river for about eight blocks, with hundreds OF magnificently preserved heritage buildings. The most spectacularly sigh-inducing street is Rue St Paul. I took to the water on AML’s sightseeing cruise, which provides superb skyline views as you drift along the storied St Lawrence River. You’ll pass by St Helen’s Island
which was the site of Expo 67, and where many expo landmarks still linger. The United States’ expo pavilion was a geodesic dome, like Florida’s Epcot. It’s now home to the Biosphere Museum. You’ll also pass La Ronde, the staggering amusement park built for Expo 67 and still beloved for its bone-shaking thrill rides like Le Monstre, the world’s highest wooden roller coaster. No thanks. In honour of Montreal’s 375th birthday this year, the iconic Jacques Cartier Bridge, crossing the St Lawrence, has been given a dazzling touch-up, with thousands of cutting-edge lighting connections wrapped around its ironwork. The innovative digital light show
follows the seasons and has become a new nocturnal riverside draw. Further down the river, you’ll get a fantastic view of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, one of the most expensive stadiums ever built in the world. Mont-Royal backdrops downtown Montreal and this 230m hill literally gave rise to the city’s name. Draping much of this lofty mound is Parc du Mont-Royal, a sprawling green space clad in oak, maple and poplar trees. This beloved urban oasis, which offers great respite from the concrete jungle and summer humidity, was designed in the 1840s by Frederick Olmsted, the same fella responsible for New York’s Central Park.
•I booked my domestic flights in Canada through an award-winning travel search engine, Skyscanner New Zealand (skyscanner.co.nz). It’s a fast and trustworthy way to find cheap flights. The more than 60 million global travellers using Skyscanner each month can’t be wrong. It compares hundreds of airlines across millions of routes and is an excellent way to score the best available deals, no matter where you want to go. Skyscanner also has price-saving features like ‘Price Alerts’ which notify you when the airfares increase or decrease. What I particularly like about Skyscanner is that when I found the flights I wanted and clicked to book, Skyscanner links you directly to the airline or travel agent so there’s no hidden charges or fees. In addition to sharppriced flights, Skyscanner also offers accommodation and vehicle hire deals too. www. skyscanner.co.nz
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Published on Nov 15, 2017