VIP PRO TOURS' SUGGESTIONS OF WHAT TO SEE & DO IN MONTREAL
A QUICK LOOK BACK AT MONTREAL - HISTORY 101
Sooo... you're a tourist and you wonder what you'll do it this big city, aside from going to a sporting event, concert, or show? Permit us to offer a few suggestions!                                             Last Updated Aug.8,2005

Old Montréal
An absolute must on every tourist's itinerary, the district of Old Montreal is just as the name implies, the oldest part of the city, a veritable visual treasure of the earliest architecture of our vibrant city. You'll find some of the best restaurants and pubs in town, as well as the Old Port, Marché Bonsecour, the beautiful Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecour chapel, Les Deux Pierrots club on St-Paul, historical museums and art galleries.
See it all on their virtual tour at: http://www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca/eng/accueila.htm

Old Port of Montréal
The Old Port is a 2.5-km-long recreational and tourist park and offers a variety of outdoor activities for every taste, from cruises to excursions, exhibitions, events and entertainment. And then there are all the indoor activities, especially at the Montréal Science Centre. Once the snow flies, you can skate on the outdoor artificial rink and join in three whole months of regular and special outdoor activities, to really make the most of winter. The Old Port of Montréal is a window on the St. Lawrence River for the seven million visitors who come here year round for fun and relaxation or just a lovely stroll.
The old Port is in the Old Montreal area, On de la Commune Street West, Telephone: (514) 496-PORT or 1-800-971-PORT - the Old Port's website is at http://www.oldportofmontreal.com/

Casino de Montreal
Lit up like a jewel at night, this casino on the Ile Notre-Dame is the largest in Quebec and one of the ten largest in the world in terms of the amount of gaming equipment. The excellent live entertainment draws gamblers and nongamblers alike.


Bell Center Guided Tours
Visit our multi-functional amphitheatre, home of the Montreal Canadiens and host to shows of international renown! Visits include Amphitheatre, Hall of Fame, television studios, press conference room, Jacques-Beauchamp media Lounge, press gallery, artists' luxury suites, corporate luxury suites, Canadiens' dressing room (not available during hockey season). Duration 1 hour 15 minutes. Tours available seven days a week, at your convenience (upon availabilities from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Address: 1260, de la Gauchetière Street West. Entrance Fees apply

Boulevard Saint-Laurent
This vibrant, gentrified neighborhood is full of shops and restaurants and continues to be popular with academics and artists.


Montreal Botanical Gardens
Montreal Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanique de Montreal), Montreal
Located near Olympic Park, Montreal's huge botanical garden contains over 20,000 different plant species in 31 specialized gardens, including the largest Chinese Garden outside Asia and a Japanese Garden with a tearoom and fabulous bonsai collection. The Insectarium hosts an "Insect Tasting" in November and December.


Montréal Biodôme
The Montréal Biodôme is an oasis in the heart of Montréal and recreates some of the most beautiful ecosystems of the Americas. Inside this environmental museum you can view rocky landscapes, tumbling waterfalls and majestic trees including birds, mammals and fish that fly, climb and swim through their natural habitats. Showcased are the polar world, the tropical and the Laurentian forests as well as the Saint-Laurentian marine environment. Located in the former cycling stadium at the Olympic Park, the Biodome houses 4,000 animals and 5,000 plants under one roof. Enjoy underwater views of riverscapes or see penguins in their natural habitat. This is a wonderful experience for the entire family. A free shuttle service links the Biodôme with the Botanical Gardens and the Insectarium. There is a cafeteria and a gift shop on site. The Biodôme is located in the olympic Park, at 4777 Pierre-De Coubertin Avenue, Montréal, Québec, H1V 1B3
Telephone: (514) 868-3000 - The biodome's website at http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/biodome/ebdm2.htm

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal
A masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture, Notre-Dame Basilica was built between 1824 and 1829. The magnificent interior decor, in sculpted wood, paint and gold leaf and the boldly modern design of the Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur Chapel captivate hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Paintings, sculptures and stained-glass windows illustrate biblical passages as well as three-and-a-half centuries of parish history of Montréal society. Daily tours are offered in French and English. In the evening a sound and light show presents the founding of Montréal and the Notre-Dame Basilica. State-of-the-art multi media techniques highlight the Basilica's exceptional works of art and bring to life its cultural, architectural and spiritual heritage.
The Basilica is located at 116, Notre Dame Street West, Montréal, Qc, H2Y 1T2 Telephone: 514 849 1070 - The Basilica's website is at http://www.basiliquenddm.org/

Montréal Insectarium
The Insectarium invites you to discover the fascinating world of insects. This museum houses a prestigious collection of several thousand insects from every corner of the earth. In summer, come discover our splendid butterfly garden that will illustrate, in all its beauty, how to form new ties with nature. If you’re brave at heart, like to try new things, or just plain kooky, ask about their insect-sampling session. Bon appetit!
The Insectarium's address is at 4581 Sherbrooke Street East, Montréal, Qc H1X 2B2 Telephone: (514) 872-1400 - The Insectarium's website is at http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/insectarium/eng/html/menu.htm

Montréal Tower / Olympic Park
Built for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium is the Olympic Park’s centre piece. Impressive in size and shape, and topped by the tallest inclined tower in the world, the Olympic Stadium quickly became a choice location for major sporting events, rock concerts and mass gatherings. A funicular-type elevator brings visitors to the top-three observation floors, where they have a superb view of Montréal and its surroundings. Guided tours of the Olympic Stadium are available. The sports centre, at the foot of the Tower, holds six pools for aquatic sports as well as a multi-sport facility.
The Olympic stadium covers the whole area between Pie-IX and Viau Street , and Sherbrooke & Pierre-De Coubertin Ave. Located at 4545 Pierre-De Coubertin Avenue - Metro station: Pie-IX station - The Olympic Park's website is at http://www.rio.gouv.qc.ca/index2.jsp?locale=en

Montréal Jazz Festival
From June 30 to July 10, 2005, the 26th edition of the Montreal Jazz Fest. Full programmation of the Festival has yet to be announced, but you'll be able to see Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, Dave Holland and many more! Listen to Couleur Jazz on 91.9 FM, Montreal's all-jazz radio station.
Tel. (514) 871-1881 - The Jazz Fest's web site at http://www.montrealjazzfest.com/

Just for Laughs Festival
Just after the Jazz Fest, yet another cool festival, Montreal's reknown comedy festival, Just For Laughs / Juste Pour Rire! The festival's date is July 14 to 24, 2005. This year's programmation has yet to be announced.
Tel. (514) 790-4242 - Easy web address to remember: http://www.hahaha.com


A QUICK LOOK BACK AT MONTREAL - HISTORY 101
Montréal's past is a prominent and colourful chapter in the history of Canada and the province of Québec. It accounts for a lot of the politics of Canada today. Before the French came to Québec with ideas of Napoleon's Second Empire, the Algonkian, Huron and Iroquois shared the area, not always peacefully. Jacques Cartier was the first European to set foot on the island of Montréal, but it wasn't until 1642 that a permanent European settlement was established and 'the mountain' was named Mont Royal, from which the city probably took its name. It soon became a major fur-trading post, a business the Iroquois wanted for themselves, and attacks on the colony occurred regularly until 1701 when a peace treaty was signed. With a burgeoning fur trade, Montréal became an exploration base and the commercial hub of France's North American empire, Nouvelle France. Many of the buildings from the period can still be seen in Vieux Montréal today.
However, trouble bubbled away, first the protracted French and Indian war (1754-63 marked the turning point in French influence throughout north America. This paved the way for the British to take Québec City in 1759 and before long Montréal also fell. In 1763, Canada officially became a British colony and settlers began to pour in. However, the anti-British rebellious American colonies also had designs on the territory and took Montréal. But without French-Canadian support, they were soon forced to beat a hasty retreat from both Québec City and Montréal.
Despite the decline of Montréal as a fur-trading player, the city continued to grow and prosper as expanding shipping and rail lines turned the city into Canada's commercial and cultural centre. Much of its diversity came from central- and eastern-European immigrants looking for work, and ethnic districts continued to expand into the 20th century; there was a particularly large influx of Jewish Europeans. This trend continued after both world wars, when immigrants flowed into the city, which had developed a reputation as something of a Gomorrah, due partially to Prohibition in the USA. Despite its seedy underbelly, a middle class began to emerge as Montréal fashioned itself into a manufacturing centre.
By the early 1950s a new mayor, Jean Drapeau, was drawing up plans that would change the face of the city. Labelled a meglomaniac by critics, Drapeau nonethless succeeded in cleaning up the city, encouraging redevelopment and enhancing Montreal's international reputation with both the World's Fair in 1967 (which pulled in over 50 million visitors) and the Olympic Games in 1976. Apart from a five-year period in the early 60s, Drapeau remained a popular mayor until the mid-80s. Nonetheless, during this time Toronto had well surpassed Montréal as Canada's economic capital. This was in no small part due to the uncertainties stirred up by a growing Québec separatist movement that became a dominant political cause in the 1960s. This launched the 'Quiet Revolution' that eventually gave French Québecers more sway in industry and politics and saw the supremacy of the French language in the province.
On the back of growing high-tech industries Montréal managed to emerge from economic hardship, and modernisation of the city took off again throughout the 1990s as the riverfront and Vieux Port area were redeveloped and enhanced.
Downtown has undergone a transformation into an alluring blend of European and North American forms, accompanied by plenty of debate on future modernisation and preservation projects. Despite the robust conjecture, the Montréal of today is altogether a more cheerful and prosperous place as the developments bring economic revival to an already culturally rich and complex city.