10 attractions within 10 minutes of Montréal’s convention centre

published on August 16, 2016
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Whether you’re in between conference sessions, wrapping up a big day of meetings or just need to go for a quick walk, there are tons of sightseeing options steps away from the Palais des congrès de Montréal (the local convention centre). The compact, walkable city centre puts everything within easy reach. Here are 10 great attractions just 10 minutes from our very central convention centre.

1. Notre Dame Basilica. This place of divinity is a thing of rare beauty. Designed in the Gothic Revival style by Irish Protestant architect James O’Donnell (he converted to Catholicism just before his death to be buried there), and built between 1824 and 1829, it is a symphony of sculpted wood, soaring gold-painted ceilings and intricate detail. A massive 7,000-pipe organ dominates the back wall. Utterly breathtaking

2. Place d’Armes. A public square dating back to the late 1600s situated in front of above-mentioned basilica, Place d’Armes allows you to experience a slice (or square) of Montréal’s riveting history. Stand in the center and do a slow 360 as you soak in some truly gorgeous and historic buildings of the old city, including the Saint-Sulpice Seminary right next to the Basilica, the country’s oldest bank and Montréal’s first skyscraper. 

3. Toqué. If you appreciate locally-sourced, modern cuisine, reserve a table at Toqué, one of Montréal’s finest restaurants. Boasting a CAA/AAA Five Diamond rating and reviews in Wine Spectator, Gourmet, GQ Magazine and Food & Wine, it has also been an exclusive Relais & Châteaux member since 2006. But enough about the honours: let’s talk food! Chef Normand Laprise has always prized market-fresh, locally-grown products and they absolutely shine in his kitchen. For two decades, he has been treating patrons to gourmet dining—this is a gastronomic sure bet. 

4. The exterior of the convention centre. The massive kaleidoscope wall is made up of 332 coloured glass panels and 58 clear glass panels. The creation, entitled TransLucide, represents the purpose of the convention centre as a place where different points of view converge. No trip to Montréal is complete without a snapshot in front of this iconic installation. 

5. Chinatown. Dim sum, anyone? Although modest-sized, Montréal’s bustling Chinatown offers an exotic “getaway” just a hop and skip from the Palais. Roam the pedestrian-friendly streets chock full of restaurants, Asian markets and grocery stores, shops to buy herbs and natural medicines and even martial arts accessories.

6. Suite 701 at the Place d’Armes Hotel. If you’re looking for a chic spot to kick back with a cocktail, consider this upscale dining place and watering hole. The lounge/restaurant’s menu is “modern brasserie cuisine” and features tasty items to go with whatever you are sipping. With its high ceilings, airy spaces and elegant furniture, this is a swanky yet unpretentious place to relax and mingle. 

7. Cité Mémoire. Sure the neighbourhood of Old Montréal is peppered with private art galleries, but one of the coolest art experiences won’t be found inside. Cité Mémoire exposition is the largest outdoor video-projection installation in the world. The projections tell the story of local individuals who have helped shape the city we have today. Visitors activate the projects with an app from their own mobile device. 

8. Montréal Science Centre. Take your inner geek for a stroll and re-fire your neurons! This dynamic, interactive space shines the spotlight on—you guessed it—science and technology and the impact both have had on society. Its exhibition halls focus on Canadian innovations and inventions in particular. If you feel like a movie, it is also home to the IMAX®Telus Cinema. 

9. Old Port of Montréal. Maybe the wind in your hair is what you need after a busy day of networking. A superb scenic spot is Montréal’s harbour front, where you can gaze at the majestic St. Lawrence River, check out giant cruise ships or observe the many marine comings-and-goings, including sailboats, motorboats and pedal boats. There’s lot of stuff on dry land too: bright bistros with terraces, boutiques and high-end spas, if you need to get the knots worked out. 

10. Art galleries along Saint Paul Street. This is easy on the eyes in addition to being history-rich (info nugget: Saint-Paul is Montréal’s oldest street). Take time to step off the cobblestones into these tasteful temples to the visual arts and pamper your senses. You can rest your gaze on Inuit art as well as contemporary canvasses by artists from Québec, Canada and around the world. All very tasteful.