Hi - My boyfriend and I are driving from NYC to Montreal this March. So far everything looks like it will be pretty inexpensive, which is really great since we are on a budget! It is my first time to Montreal though so I have a few questions, any help would be greatly appreciated
1) Parking: We will most likely be staying downtown, do hotels mostly have free (or charged) parking? Is it easy to park on the street and/or are there inexpensive parking lots that will be safe?
2) Old Montreal vs. downtown: I can't quite see the difference, is old Montreal walking distance from downtown?
3) Food: We are both big foodies, are there any restaurants or cafes that we must not miss? We are on a budget but might be willing to splurge for the right meal. Cheap and delicious ideas are also welcome!
Its a nice drive up from NYC,lots of mountains..dont forget your passports for the return into the USA.As in any major city street parking can be tough,most/all downtown areas are parking metered and need to be fed money every 2 to 3 hours,also in March alternate side of the road street parking rules are still in effect for snow clearing purposes.,be darn handy if your hotel has some kind of parking if not your best alternative will be one of the longterm parking lots.
Old Montreal or the old port district is just that "old" cobblestone streets and old buildings abound and have been turned into restaurants,cafe's and bars most of which have outside seating in the summer, its a must see and its probably a half hour walk from downtown area or one or two subway stops ,the downtown core is typical big city with all form of shops and restaurants but with a Montreal difference as a lot of it is underground.
Not sure what you will be paying for your hotel downtown but public transit is very good and some of the south shore and west island hotels might be cheaper with free parking.
March isnt what i'd call the greatest time to visit but you wont be disappointed or lack for things to do,take a bus up to the mountain and walk around for a few hours,spectacular views
.Use Google for subway and bus maps.
[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jan-2010, at 03:39 by jambo101 ]
In either Old Montreal or central Montreal you will most likely be charged for parking. Any hotels should list parking rates, but expect to pay anywhere from $15 - $30 a day.
Personally, I liked staying in central Montreal rather than Old Montreal. Old Montreal is a little too jammed with tourists (even in March), and I am more of an urban guy. My personal preference is to find something bounded by St. Catherine to the northwest, Autoroute Ville Marie to the southeast, Peel to the southwest and St. Laurent to the northeast, though I have also stayed along Sherbrooke and been quite happy. If you are looking for cheaper digs, back when I was on a tighter budget I stayed in the hotels along St. Urbain north of the bus station. They were fine, but the area isn't as nice.
You can walk from central Montreal to Old Montreal in 30 minutes at most. Its an easy walk, though does involve some up and down with hills.
For food, I had a nice (and pricey) meal at Queue de Cheval at 1221 Rene Levesque Boulevard West. There are lots of nice places along St. Laurent ("The Main") as well, plus some cool lounges and bars. Breakfast at Chez Cora's is a must. Make sure you try a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich - though I won't get into suggestions on Schwartz's vs. other options.
So many restaurants in Montreal i wouldnt know where to start but take GregW's advice on a Montreal Smoked meat sandwich as i think its Montreal's signature dish.
Should look something like this = http://www.chow.com/assets/2007/02/60_11_800x600.jpg oooh yeah
Montreals China town is also worth a visit,its halfway between downtown and old Montreal,i'm thinking Dim Sum on the way to old Montreal eh!
For cheap and delicious there are many restaurants that cater to burgers and ,hotdogs called casse croutes by the locals try a Montreal steamed hot dog all dressed with a side of poutine,poutine is french fries with cheese curds and gravy poured on,quite addicting once you try it,looks something like this = http://dontplaywithyourfood.net/images/poutine.jpg
[ Edit: Edited on 12-Jan-2010, at 10:35 by jambo101 ]