Go discover Montreal's underground city

by Jacques Bérubé

No matter how you view it, you'd never guess simply by looking at Montreal’s skyline that beneath the downtown core lies among the most extensive network of covered galleries in the world: over 32 kilometres of passageways connect 63 buildings, 2,000 shops, 8 subway stations, 10 major hotels and 9 university buildings. It’s so vast that you need a map to find your way around! [photo credit: iStock]

Go discover Montreal's underground city

The Restaurants

Even underground, you'll have access to Montreal’s world-famous selection of restaurants. From fast food to veggie fare, such as at Laitue & Go, it's easy to eat well underground! Other choices include: Greek cuisine at Neos Cuzina; Szechuanese at Mr Ma in Place Ville-Marie; Italian at Ros&lina in Le 1000 de la Gauchetière, and food by such well-known local chefs as Gilles St-Hilaire at Restaurant 9-4-10 in the Bell Centre. Feeling slightly more adventurous? There’s also the Occitan fare of Osco! located in the Montreal World Trade Centre, as well as Place Deschamps Bar à Vin in the Place des Arts.

Passageways to Culture

Without ever setting foot outdoors you can discover Quebec's innovative architecture at theMaison de l’architecture du Québec, enjoy some artful masterpieces at The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and take a mind-blowing journey into the past by visiting the Musée Grévin, a one-of-a-kind wax museum experience. You'll even find even a Chinese bookstore, Sinomono, at the Guy-Favreau tower.

Montreal's underground network also leads to several entertainment venues, including Place des Arts, where music, concerts and plays are held, and Cinéma Banque Scotia Montréal, home to at least 13 movie screens, party rooms and more.

Each year in March, the Art Souterrain festival transforms the passageways of the underground city into a contemporary art gallery to awaken and re-ignite the imagination of the many thousands of people who traipse through, often too absorbed by their daily routines to take in their surroundings.

The Masterpieces of the Metro

The subway itself is like an enormous art gallery. Whether it's Frédéric Back's painted glass mural at the Place des Arts station; Jean-Paul Mousseau’s flowing circles on the platform walls of Peel station; Jean Mercier's murals at Édouard-Montpetit; or that of Judith Klein at the Jean-Talon station.

Music Underground

More than 250 musicians, represented by MusiMétro, entertain passers-by with a variety of musical styles including classical, folk, Quebec, Latin and African. From time to time and for special events, you might even stumble across the Montreal Symphony Orchestra or the Accueil Bonneau choir.

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Shopping

Underground Montreal is also a huge shopping mall, connected by the metro and suburban trains. There are even several car parks.Although all of the big brand names have a storefront on the street, there are also a few specialty shops to be discovered, such as l’Autre Couture – créateurs d’ici in thePromenades Cathédrale, which offers clothing, accessories and jewellery by designers like Luco Marion, Pascale Labelle, Caroline Arbour and glass bowties by Adoré Soufflé; Zyeu Optometrists, which offers custom eyeglass frames; and if you're still bored, you'll find a giant selection of board games at Jeux Divertioz in Complexe Desjardins or electronic games and consoles at EB Games in Complexe les Ailes.

The Hotels

At least nine major hotels are accessible via underground network, including the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, the InterContinental Montreal, the Marriott Château Champlain and the Hyatt Regency, all downtown, close to the business district and main tourist attractions.

Want to discuss investment strategy with your partners in a relaxed and discreet setting? Have an aperitif with customers in a chic lounge or enjoy a romantic dinner with your sweetheart? Whether it's chic XO Le Restaurant in Hôtel Le St-James, or the Wunderbar or the Plateau Lounge at Hôtel W Montréal, you're sure to find the perfect out-of-the-ordinary place you're looking for.

Shoes wearing thin?

Underground Montreal is full of surprises. Just walk a little slower and you'll be amazed at the things you discover. Soles worn through? Broken heel? Did you know that there's even a shoe repair shop in the waiting room at Central Station?

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