BASIC LAYOUT -- At the southern end of the city is Vieux-Port (along the St. Lawrence River) and Vieux-Montréal, or Old Montréal. Just north of Vieux-Montréal are Quartier International, where the convention center is located, and then Quartier des Spectacles, where Places des Arts (a complex of fine arts music halls) is located. Downtown is west of there, and the Plateau Mont-Royal is north.
The north-south artery boulevard St-Laurent (also known as The Main) serves as the line of demarcation between east and west Montréal. Most of the areas featured in this book lie west of boulevard St-Laurent.
In earlier days, Montréal was split geographically along cultural lines. English speakers lived mainly west of boulevard St-Laurent, while French speakers were concentrated to the east. Things still do sound more French as you walk east, as street names and Métro stations change from Peel and Atwater to Papineau and Beaudry.
In addition to the maps in this book, neighborhood street plans are available at www.tourisme-montreal.org and from the information centers listed above.
FINDING AN ADDRESS -- Boulevard St-Laurent, which runs from the south of the city up to the north, is the dividing point between east and west (est and ouest) in Montréal. Pay attention: Numbers go east and west in both directions. For east-west streets, the numbers start at St-Laurent and then get higher in both directions. That means, for instance, that the restaurants Chez l’Épicier, at 311 rue St-Paul est, and Marché de la Villette, at 324 rue St-Paul ouest, are 1km (about a half mile, or 13 short blocks) from each other—not directly across the street. Make sure you know if your address is east or west and confirm the cross street for all addresses.
There’s no equivalent division for north and south (nord and sud). Instead, the numbers start at the river and climb from there, just as the topography does.
Montréal: Where the Sun Rises in the South
For the duration of your visit to Montréal, you’ll need to accept local directional conventions, strange as they may seem. The boomerang- or croissant-shaped island city borders the St. Lawrence River, and as far as locals are concerned, the river is south, with the U.S. not far off on the other side. Never mind that the river, in fact, runs almost north and south at this section. Don’t fight it: Face the river. That’s south. Turn around. That’s north. Because of this convention, Montréal is the only city in the world where the sun rises in the south.
Directions given throughout the Montréal chapters conform to this local directional tradition. Prominent thoroughfares, such as rue Ste-Catherine and boulevard René-Lévesque, run “east” (est) and “west” (ouest). The dividing line is boulevard St-Laurent, which runs “north” and “south.” The maps in this book do have a true compass on them.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.