Free Montreal / Montréal gratuit

maison st gabriel

Museum Day at Maison St Gabriel: crafty ladies make traditional ceintures fléchées. Photo: Patricia Maunder

History has been a lifelong interest of mine, so it didn’t take me long to discover Montreal’s annual free Museums Day when I moved here. While enjoying the 2016 edition the other day, I was reminded what a great gift to the city it is, and also thought about the many other free things on offer. From guided walks to park life, festivals to fireworks, there is so much to do and see in Montreal that doesn’t cost a bean, whether you’re a local or a visitor. Step this way to discover some of the best.

I’m happy to pay to see cultural artefacts, but May’s Museums Day is a great way to save money and also get motivated to check out places I haven’t yet made a beeline for. It couldn’t be easier as there are regular, free shuttle buses to all the venues, where there are often special things to experience on this already wonderful day. Continue reading

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It’s a series of tubes! / C’est une série de tubes!

A gift from Paris: the Art-Nouveau Square-Victoria Metro entrance in Montreal. Photo: Patricia Maunder

A gift from Paris: the Art-Nouveau Square-Victoria Metro entrance in Montreal. Photo: Patricia Maunder

Firstly, thanks to late US Senator Ted Stevens for today’s headline: this is how he described the internet in 2006!

Something I immediately fell in love with when I moved to Montreal was the Metro. It still surprises me that locals complain about it, because by and large it’s got to be one of the best subway systems in the world. Certainly it’s better than Melbourne’s train system, where even inner-city dwellers waste a lot of time waiting for trains (especially if you need to transfer to another line), and the three-station subway (yes, three!) is so overwhelmed that it goes in one direction in the morning, grinds to a halt, then goes the other way in the afternoon … except for some lines that must bypass it entirely!

But back to Montreal’s Metro. An entrance never seems far away, especially in the downtown area. It’s dry and quite clean because it’s all underground (in fact, many downtown stations connect to the famous ‘underground city’, the 30km of malls linked to offices, restaurants etc – great when the weather’s mean!). If a train doesn’t arrive as I step on the platform, there’s usually one there in a minute or two (so it’s rare to see someone running for a train). The station names are a fascinating snapshot of Montreal’s history. The trains run on rubber wheels and have wooden brake pads. What’s not to like? Continue reading