In the middle of Montreal sits Mont Royal, after which the city is named. Today, we’re going to climb it.
At the Base of Mont Royal
Before we began our ascent, we got breakfast, and bought a few bags of chips. Then, armed with chemical hand-warmers and coffee, we approached the mountain from the north. Walking through Parc Jeanne-Mance, we stumbled upon a scene most Canadian: a random hockey rink:
In the summer, this park would have been a great outdoor area, but as I said before, today it was just a snow-covered open area. We eventually found the Monument à Sir George-Étienne Cartier:
As I took photos of the surrounding area, Sarah tried to figure out the map. This was another instance where the Lonely Planet guide we used struggled to be useful. See, the page for Parc Mont Royal includes, like so many other parts of town, a guided walking tour beginning near McGill University. However, it only lists the guided tour with no other maps for people (like us) who aren’t following the guide to a T.
To gather our bearings, we had to spend some quality time with our phones. But we’re both smart people, and eventually we were on our way.
Navigating the Trails
When I thought “mountain”, I thought of Glacier National Park and was expecting a more rigorous climb. The peak is only 764 feet, so even though it’s called Mont Royal, the “mont” part a little bit of a misnomer. The hike was never treacherous or even steep. In fact, a lot of it was paved. Aside from the few staircases that had been put in place and covered in snow-pack, it’s a quite nice walk up otherwise very tame hills.
My one big gripe is that all of the trails are labeled “Chemin Olmsted”, making a bit of an “Aladeen” situation if you’ve ever seen The Dictator. I’m sure it means something relevant (I don’t speak French), but it made it confusing beyond belief to navigate.
Using the GPS in Google Maps and following the crowds, we reached the top of the mountain.
The Views of Montreal from Mont Royal
We could see everything from the top of Mont Royal. A frozen downtown area, the slow-moving river, and the outlying areas of unincorporated Montreal.
My panorama shot (click on this to expand):
And proof that Sarah and I survived the cold to see this vantage point:
Chalet du Mont Royal
After getting our fill of the Montreal skyline, we decided to take a break inside the Chalet du Mont Royal.
The inside of the Chalet du Mont Royal is a cavernous lodge, complete with a coffee shop, a tourist-crap shop, and chairs to rest your weary bones.
Now seemed like as good of a time as any to try Canadian cuisine: Lay’s Ketchup chips and the Ruffles All-Dressed chips. At the time of our trip, neither were available in America, though since I have seen All-Dressed chips on the shelves at Mariano’s. That kind of ruined one of the more token parts of the trip.
- Ketchup Chips – these things are god-awful. True to their name, they taste like ketchup. Purely ketchup. Ever take a giant pull off a bottle of Heinz? I haven’t, but now I don’t need to. 2/10 – I almost ralphed.
- All-Dressed Chips – fantastic. They taste like a hybrid of BBQ and Cheddar Sour Cream chips. 10/10 – would buy again.
The Mont Royal Cross
Break over, we headed out to see one final sight on Mont Royal: the Mont Royal Cross. On our way down another Chemin Olmsted, we saw a squirrel:
That wasn’t what we left to see.
A five minute walk from the Chalet lives the Mont Royal Cross built in 1924. At night, it lights up. It was also a little less impressive than I thought it’d be.
After I got this picture, we both went “Yup. That’s a cross.” and headed back down the mountain towards McGill University.
The walk up the mountain wasn’t very treacherous, but the walk down was a different story. We came down the main way (that Lonely Planet wanted us to take) and all of the stairs were snow-packed to the point of being ice slides. On several occasions, the more popular route was to slide down on your butt. As Sarah did (sorry for vertical video):
This ended our day on Mont Royal. Our next stop was the Museum of Fine Arts in the Sherbourne district.
If you want to read more cool travel blogs, head over to the Faraway Files where myself and other travel people post the best of the week. Click on the badge below to go there!