A trip to underground Montreal… or the discovery of beautiful treasures!

5 minutes

Stéphane Deslauriers

Une virée dans le Montréal souterrain
The time has come! The fall season is setting in and you’ll likely want to spend part of the weekend shopping at the mall, sheltered from the elements. To help you discover a more original way to shop downtown, I went on a fun trip through the maze of Montreal’s underground network, known as the réseau piétonnier souterrain (RÉSO), or Montreal Underground Pedestrian Network.

Located in the heart of the metropolis, with some sections located downtown, this pedestrian network connects metro stations to several shopping centres over a distance of almost 32 kilometres. It’s a fun route to walk and a great way to stroll with a few friends, shop with your life partner or just dine alone, protected from the rain or cold.

 Don’t be afraid to wander around, it’s easy to get from one section of the route to another as they’re all clearly marked.

 I invite you to follow me on this little adventure that will certainly have you wanting to discover underground Montreal!

Complexe Desjardins: the perfect starting point for my trip!

With a total area of 4 million square feet, Complexe Desjardins is the largest building in Montreal. On the same site, you’ll find a large, prestigious hotel – the DoubleTree by Hilton – with three office towers, 110 shops and restaurants, and one of downtown’s finest food galleries.

 It’s all very impressive, but if you’re a fan of the simple things in life, the very large public square at the heart of the complex is worth a look. With a playful, functional, and beautifully modernized backdrop, you can relax in one of the many chairs set up next to the fountain that sprays water up to the ceiling of the complex.

 To take a pleasant break, eat lunch with a business partner or simply see a friend you’ve gotten back in touch with, the public square in Complexe Desjardins is a must-see stop in underground Montreal.

 

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Une publication partagée par Complexe Desjardins (@complexedesjardins)

A mural by Frédéric Back on the history of music in Montreal

Next, I walked to the entrance of the Place-des-Arts metro station to admire a mural created in 1966 by renowned Quebec artist Frédéric Back [link in French]. Yes, the same artist who won the Oscar for Best Animated Film in 1987 for The Man Who Planted Trees!

Back’s mural tells the story of music in Montreal, beginning with the first concert on the island in 1535 and includes such famous figures as Guillaume Couture, Calixa Lavallée and Emma Lajeunesse, aka La grande Albani.

This is a must-see on your tour!

 

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Une publication partagée par Brighton Ben (@bltreview)

A delicious carrot cake delivered by a vending machine in Place Montreal Trust

After admiring Frédéric Back’s work at the Place-des-Arts metro station, I headed to Place Montréal Trust. A little bird had recommended I try a delicious piece of cake delivered by a vending machine called Carlo’s Bakery and baked by a pastry chef who has appeared on the popular American series Cake Boss.

It was a breeze to order. I chose a piece of carrot cake. Did I like it? Let’s just say that these cakes, which are made in Hoboken, New Jersey, are excellent, but very (perhaps too?) hearty!

Are bagels calling your name? The Montreal Bagel Factory is waiting for you!

I then stopped at La Fabrique de bagels de Montréal, located in the Carrefour Industrielle Alliance. I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy six really good bagels, made on the spot, including whole wheat, rosemary, and coconut. It’s no coincidence that I used the term “really good” because yes, they are downright scrumptious! If you spread a bit of hazelnut chocolate on the coconut one, I can assure you that your taste buds will be satisfied!

 

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Une publication partagée par La Fabrique de Bagel (@lfdbm)

Barbies and Harry Potter candies at Cours Mont-Royal

 I continued my walk by passing through Cours Mont-Royal and making a short stop to admire the candy on offer at Carré Confiseries. It’s an amazing place for children, but also Harry Potter fans, as this family shop offers candy featuring all the characters of the famous saga. 

What motivated my visit to Cours Mont-Royal, however, was the free exhibition dedicated to one of the most adored dolls of all time: Barbie. The Barbie Expo features more than 1,000 figurines, some of which are unique, inspired by Hollywood stars, or dressed by major international designers.

This free exhibition will delight young and old alike, even if you aren’t a fan of the mythical doll. A must-see!

Barbies and Harry Potter candies at Cours Mont-Royal

I continued my walk by passing through Cours Mont-Royal and making a short stop to admire the candy on offer at Carré Confiseries. It’s an amazing place for children, but also Harry Potter fans, as this family shop offers candy featuring all the characters created by author J. K. Rowling.

What motivated my visit to Cours Mont-Royal, however, was the free exhibition dedicated to one of the most adored dolls of all time: Barbie. The Barbie Expo features more than 1,000 figurines, some of which are unique, inspired by Hollywood stars, or dressed by major international designers.

This free exhibition will delight young and old alike, even if you aren’t a fan of the mythical doll. A must-see!

 

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Une publication partagée par Barbie Expo (@barbieexpo)

A healthy break at Le Cathcart

I know you’ve heard a lot about it  but I’ll add my two cents to the chorus of praise that Le Cathcart is receiving. Located right next to the Bonaventure metro station, this huge 3,252 square meter place, which includes a large garden flooded with light thanks to a superb glass pavilion overhanging the place, is an absolute “must-see”! Whether it’s for a good coffee or a drink at the end of the day, Le Cathcart is one of my favourites!

 

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Une publication partagée par Le Cathcart (@lecathcart)

Skating enthusiasts, Atrium Le 1000 will fill you with happiness… all year round!

 Finally, I ended my trip at the Atrium at 1000 de La Gauchetière. As an avid fan of winter sports, I had fun watching joyful skaters doing their best glides on this rink that’s open all year round, summer and winter.

 The Atrium Le 1000 is located on the ground floor of the tallest building downtown and is topped by a huge glass dome that lets in the sun’s warm rays. Inaugurated in 1992, the skating rink is a true fount of happiness for families, students, and tourists. The rink is open at 11:30 am from Wednesday to Sunday and until 9 pm on Saturday. Access to the rink and skate rental will cost you $18.

 

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Une publication partagée par Cathy Dansereau (@catdee9)

 There you have it, with this nice little trip, I hope to have given you the desire to dive into the “abyss” of downtown Montreal. You might have a great time and discover some beautiful treasures!