on August 26, 2013
We stayed in central Montreal and used the so-called "underground city" to access the Old Town. The start of the underground city occurred when Montreal opened its first subway line in 1966,. The first stations had underground links to the shopping mall under the Place Ville-Marie office tower, and a few hotels but this has now stretched to a vast network of over 30 kilometres of well-lit, boutique-lined passages. It is the largest underground complex in the world and is Montreal's answer to the region's harsh winters. It is difficult for a visitor to understand the extent of the system but the aviewoncities web site says that the corridors link up with 10 metro stations, 2 bus terminals, offices, about 2,000 stores, housing units, restaurants, banks, movie theatres and other entertainment venues, 7 major hotels, the University of Quebec at Montreal campus, the University of Montreal, Olympic Park, Place des Arts, a cathedral, 3 exhibition halls and so on. Despite all this, to us and to many other people, it is really a collection of linked shopping malls.We initially found navigating the underground city quite difficult. Maps are posted through the system but the labyrinth of interconnected stores and pathways is confusing, and the maps don't indicate the relationship between the underground and the above-ground streets. We found it confusing compared to Toronto's PATH system which is almost the same length. There are about 200 entrance points to the underground city. Fortunately it becomes clearer the further south you go and we found an exit right on the edge of Old Town.The various sections of the underground city are decidedly different from one another as they have been built at different times by different organisations, so once you get used to the system, you can determine where you are in the complex. Some passageways are very plain but others have nice decoration and although always crowded it was very clean. We had lunch there on a couple of occasions, and you can choose from Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Greek and Mexican food as well as burgers, pizza and pastas, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The underground is something all visitors should experience. As a way of reaching the Old Town, it is hard to beat.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009