3 BIXI bike rides attendees will pop a wheelie for
Once they arrive in town, your attendees will notice Montréal is a biking city. With over 800 km (500 miles!) of bike paths criss-crossing the island, there’s few finer ways to experience Montréal like a local than perched atop two wheels. And the city’s BIXI bike sharing service means everyone – Montréaler and visitor alike – has a waiting bike (7,250 of them, fact fans) at their fingertips. Signed out in a snap at one of 600 stations across the city, BIXI offers attendees more than just an easy-to-use transport system, but the freedom to explore parts of Montréal during downtime.
A quick BIXI user’s guide
Open to anyone with a credit card, BIXI passes are available for several time periods ranging from as little as a one-way trip to a full season from April through to November. Bikes can be booked directly at the station terminal or via the BIXI app (for iPhone and Android) including a trip planner and stations map and the first 30 (the most likely option for visitors) or 45 minutes (for longer period subscribers) are included. There’s a low fee for additional time above and beyond those listed above, and 3-day passes or packs of 10 rides are available. BIXI’s informative website and How it Works section offers step-by-step assistance and further details.
Unforgettable biking routes worth rooting for
While BIXI bikes are typically used for shorter jaunts – and offer quick and easy transport between our convention centre the Palais des congrès de Montréal and its nearby cultural spaces, shopping options, cafés, bars and restaurants or Old Montréal – they also offer attendees the option of longer rides too.
Here’s three routes starting from the Palais des congrès that will thrill your attendees – and give them a taste of Montréal life to boot. With all of the stations available throughout the city, it’s easy to think of the BIXI system as a hop-on hop-off bike ride, so we’ve made a couple of suggested site visits on these routes where it’s simple to drop off a bike and enjoy the rest stop for as long as you like, and where it’s also possible for the most part to keep within the 30-minute borrow timeframe.
The Lachine Canal to Lachine via Atwater Market (30 km / 19 miles round trip)
According to local folklore, an expedition to find the mythical passage from the west to Asia ran aground in the rapids of the St. Lawrence River just a few miles from its starting point near Montréal’s present-day Verdun neighbourhood – a spot now beloved by urban surfers. Referred to with a humorous nickname that stuck (China is La Chine in French), the Lachine Canal today is one of the city’s most iconic sites, winding between the Quartiers du Canal and finishing at the open waters of its namesake borough.
From the Palais des congrès, we suggest a stroll past the Notre-Dame Basilica towards the waterfront down Saint-Sulpice Street. Stations on de la Commune Street are well-stocked with bikes and the perfect starting point. The street-side bike path leads directly to the Canal multi-purpose path, and mid-way on the journey, a stop at the postcard-pretty Atwater Market is the perfect opportunity for a snack or to pick up supplies for a canal-side picnic. Drop off the bike here and explore the market!
After signing out a new bike, it’s a simple straight ahead until Lachine, where new BIXI stations allow for bike return before taking a wander. We’d suggest checking out the Fur Trade Museum then making one’s way to Parc René-Lévesque, a finger of land that stretches out into the waters of the St. Lawrence River, punctuated with the Lachine Outdoor Sculpture Museum and an arboretum. The route back is just as easy, but riders will face a small extension fee for time spent over 30 minutes on the bike.
Habitat 67 and Parc Jean-Drapeau (14 km / 9 miles round trip)
This route gives attendees the chance to take in one of Montréal’s most famous architectural wonders up close and visit a Formula 1 racetrack. After picking up a bike at the Palais des congrés, it’s an easy ride down de la Commune Street towards the Cité du Havre quartier. Art lovers would appreciate a stop at the near-by Darling Foundry, a converted historic foundry space featuring large-scale installations by up-and-coming artists. After crossing the canal and following the bike path onto Pierre-Dupuy Avenue, Habitat 67 looms in the distance. Built by architect Moshe Safdie for the legendary Expo 67, it’s an architectural wonder to behold up close.
Enter Parc Jean-Drapeau by simply continuing on across the Concorde Bridge and winding through some pretty gardens to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montréal’s Formula 1 race track open to bicycles when not occupied by racers – a thrill for any cyclist. There’s a BIXI station close by, and after some R n’ R in the park it’s easy to return the same way – or more intrepid cyclists up for a fun challenge might want to come back over the Jacques-Cartier Bridge that connects to the northern part of the park and visit the Gay Village and past Montréal City Hall.
Up Mount Royal (11 km / 7 miles round trip)
Those looking for an unbeatable vista over Montréal should look no further than the Mount Royal lookout. From the Palais des congrès, bike straight up Jeanne-Mance Street until Jeanne-Mance Park, the perfect spot to leave the BIXI for a breather or snack at one of the nearby cafés on Mount Royal or du Parc Avenues. From the base of the mountain, the choice is yours. Check in the bike and use the steps for climbing to the summit, or bike up the switchback trail and prepare for an exhilarating bike back down!
There’s no BIXI station at the summit (so trips over 30 minutes will come with an additional fee), but we’d suggest biking up to look up-up-up from the base of the Mount Royal Cross and finishing off with the vistas over downtown Montréal and the St. Lawrence river from the Mount Royal Chalet. As the natural heart of the city, it’s a must-see for any visitor, made even better on a BIXI. And after the uphill workout – and fun descent – a gourmet baked treat is well deserved once the BIXI’s back in the racks.
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