Do you go to Wax Museums? Did you go as a kid or like my hubby and I have parents that thought this would be too cheesy or tacky? Well, on a recent trip to Montreal, we decided to visit the Grevin Museum in Montreal’s Eaton Center because we could. We had our Passeport MTL which provided access to many different activities throughout the city. If you are familiar with a City Pass, this is similar but better in many other ways: (1) there are more attractions to choose from; (2) a transit pass is included as part of the pass; and (3) you have 48 and 72 hour passes available. The downside is that there is no way you will be able to visit all of the fabulous attractions in that short time frame. The upside is you are just going to have to come back to Montreal to see them all!
List of Attractions and Activities on the MTL Passeport pass
Downtown – City Centre
Ascent the Summit at Place Ville Marie (or PVM to the locals) and you will have a 360 view of the island of Montreal. You will also see the many bridges that connect Montreal to the South Shore and the Eastern Townships. You will be able to identify the three peaks of Mount Royal and of course spot the Big O (the Olympic Stadium), Old Montreal and the Port of Montreal. This maybe a do-right-away activity to get your bearings.
Au Sommet Place Ville Marie
The following attractions are all close to each other and worth your consideration. The McCord Museum is part of McGill University. The main gate to the campus is just down the street. Well worth a walk around one of the oldest universities in the country.
One of my favourite museums in Canada is th Montreal Museum of Fine Arts . This is a picture of the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture that sits outside of the museum for the spring and summer and then is disassembled and reassembled in the museum every year. It takes 11 people 7 days to reassemble it. Sun is no small purchase for the museum at a price tag of $1 million dollars (according to our tour guide). Part of a group of fine art museums that share their collections, you will not be disappointed in the different exhibits that come to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This spring Chagall: Colour and Music was seen by over 200,000 visitors. If you are a museum buff, you will enjoy this museums that spans two different buildings that are connected through a tunnel underneath Sherbrooke Street!
I have to say one of the highlights of our visit was to visit the Grevin Wax Museum. As kids, we both were discouraged to go to Wax museums because they were ‘cheesy’ but not any more. The Grevin museum had a plethora of interesting figures from both Quebec as well as international figures and superstars. You can pose with different personalities in sports, politics or take a selfie with a movie star. I put together a video for you to see all the great models that they have. This is a must-see attraction and is located in the Eaton Center Shopping on St. Catherine’s Street.
Musée Grévin Montréal
Seeing Montreal from the water was also very interesting as you begin to understand the importance of the St. Lawrence seaway in the development of trade in NortNorth America. Up the river toward the ocean you will find Quebec City but from Montreal south-west you are entering the great lakes region with import ports to Kingston, Toronto, Detroit and then Chicago.
We took the AML Cruise as we had been on another of their cruises while visiting the Gaspésie and Quebec City last summer. I liked this boat as it is larger than most and felt stable (I’m not a big sailor as you can tell from my criteria). We were on a Sunday brunch tour (which looked very appetizing but was not included in our MTL Passeport pass). There are also other types including guided tours and evening sunset tours. The pass includes 90 minute tours, there are additional charges for specialty tours (brunch tour, fireworks tour, etc.).
Jean Drapeau Island
The following attractions can all be accessed by Metro (Jean Drapeau station) on St. Helen’s Island. You have a variety of options to choose from be it the historic Stewart Museum to Casino Montreal (one of only a handful of casinos in the province). St. Helen’s Island is also home to the Montreal Grand Prix racetrack and LaRonde – a Six Flags amusement park- (entrance is not included to La Ronde in the Passeport MTL).
An iconic symbol in Montreal since 1967, the American Pavilion now houses the Biosphere environment museum. Twenty-seventeen also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Expo67 world’s fair. Echo67 is a special exhibition at the Biosphere with photos from that glorious time in Montreal’s history.
Biosphere, environment museum
Located in the Port of Old Montreal Écorécréo permits you a 30 minute quadriclycles rental plus a 30 minute paddle boat excursion. Up for more fun? Écorécréo rents out various recreational equipment and vehicles, including quadricycles, pedalos, kayaks, SUP, Segways PT and electrical bikes. The location lends itself to take a tour of the Old Port. It is is a great place to have a picnic, go to the beach (but don’t go in the water) or check out the Water Tower (a memorial to WWI soldiers). If you are in town for the fireworks festival this is a prime location to see them as the light up the Jacque Cartier Bridge.
Alas, when we were visiting, the MAC was in between installations so we had a limited amount of art works to view. It did not deter us from taking a tour. We loved the unusual installations be they barrels full of water and t.v. screens, a sleeping fox, a snake and a deer in various states of repose or a very tall man made of recycled items. One piece was a projection of two faces against white pillow-heads. It was a couple arguing. It was disturbing and intriguing as you listened in on a private disagreement that bordered on verbal abuse. Once again, it just shows that contemporary art always challenges your senses and sensibilities.
Take the metro to Pie IX or Viau to Montreal Olympic Park. There are numerous attractions for the whole family. You can see the whole city from Olympic Stadium Tower, visit the stars and planets in the Rio Alto Alcan Planetarium, visit 4 different climates in the Biodome, be amazed by the insects of the world or visit the breathtaking Botanical Gardens when you are in the area. I would high recommend planning your visit here as there is a lot to do and a 48 hour pass may not cover it all.
Montreal hosted the 1976 summer Olympic and the Olympic stadium is the monumental legacy that has the tallest leaning tower in the world (175m). It has been the home to the Montreal Expos, The Montreal Allouettes and The Montreal Impact. It has hosted many cultural, national and musical festivals throughout the years. In 1983 I attended the Police Picnic with the iconic band “The Police” as the headliners! While on our visit, there was a huge swim meets going on. The Olympic pool is located at the base of the Tower. The importance of calling ahead or checking a website cannot be understated. We were looking forward to visiting the top of the Olympic Tower at but we were disappointed that it was closed for renovations. It will reopen July 1, 2017
The Montréal Tower / Montréal Olympic Park
As a family we visited the Biodome a few years ago and we were taken by this size of this attraction. A great place to bring your kids, it is a place to find out about the different ecosystems of the world. You will find penguins from the Antarctic and crocodiles from the rainforests. Immerse yourself in five ecosystems (tropical rainforest, Laurentians Maple forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador Coast and the sub-Antarctic Islands). The Biodome is home to over 4,500 animals from around 220 different species.
Ste Anne de Bellevue
The MTL Passeport is well worth the cost. I promise you will run out of time before you run out of attractions to attend. For more information of where to purchase the pass, check out their website or visit the Tourisme Montreal office.
All small images are courtesy of MTL Passeport website.