Montreal (founded in 1642) is the second-most populous city in Canada and most populous city in the Canadian province of Quebec. European settlers from La Flèche in the Loire valley first named their new town, founded in 1642, Ville Marie (“City of Mary”). Its current name comes from Mount Royal (map), the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city.
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The city is situated 196 km (122 mi) east of the national capital Ottawa, and 258 km (160 mi) south-west of the provincial capital, Quebec City. While Quebec City is the capital, Montreal is the cultural and economic centre, and the main entry point to the province.
There are many historic buildings in Old Montreal (map) in their original form: Notre Dame of Montreal Basilica (map), *Bonsecours Market (map), and the 19th‑century headquarters of all major Canadian banks on St. James Street (French: Rue Saint Jacques). Montreal’s earliest buildings are characterized by their uniquely French influence and grey stone construction. (*Culture of Montreal)
The Underground City (RESO, map) is an important tourist attraction. It is the set of interconnected shopping complexes (both above and below ground). This impressive network connects pedestrian thoroughfares to universities, as well as hotels, restaurants, bistros, subway stations and more, in and around downtown with 32 km (20 mi) of tunnels over 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi) of the most densely populated part of Montreal.
Rue Prince-Arthur, east of Saint-Laurent, is for pedestrians only. Another pedestrian-only locale is Montreal’s Chinatown (map), on Rue de la Gauchtière Est between Saint-Urbain and Saint-Laurent. A good trick for navigating downtown Montreal is to remember that streets slope up toward Mount Royal, which is just north of downtown and easy to see from most locations.
To buy your own food or regional products, the public market at Jean-Talon (map), is the place to go. Open daily 08:00-18:00, the market is especially noteworthy for its selection of produce. The surrounding streets are heavily Italian-flavoured and have excellent grocery stores, butchers, bakeries, and restaurants.