I was fortunate to experience two walking tours with Old Montreal Walking Tours: Old Montreal East, and Old Montreal West.
Both tours depart from the front steps of the Notre-Dame Basilica, and can be taken on the same day. The East tour departs at 11:00am, while the West tour departs at 1:30pm. Note that these tours are operated by a company called "Guidatour."
I arrived at Notre-Dame at 10:45am and handed in my voucher. I received a ticket in exchange for both tours. At 11:00, our English-speaking guide, Jérémy gathered us up and we began the tour.
The Old Montreal East tour includes admission to the Notre-Dame Basilica, so make sure you don't buy separate admission at another time! After visiting this magnificent structure, Jérémy took us out onto the streets of Old Montreal, giving us the history of the area as we walked down St. Paul street, through Place Jacques-Cartier, overlooking the Champ de Mars, and finishing at Marché Bonsecours.
There were many picture taking opportunities on the East Side, so make sure you bring your camera. You're really learning lots about the history of Old Montreal, the relationship between the French and English populations of the city, and the overall importance of the area in regards to the founding of the city.
As a guide, Jérémy was just awesome. He's young and enthusiastic, and knows his stuff. Nothing he said felt rehearsed and I think he did a great job reading our group of 15-20 people and leading us through the city. He has a great sense of humor and kept us laughing and engaged at the same time. If he's your guide, you're in for a real treat.
After a one hour break, I returned back to Notre-Dame for the Old Montreal West walking tour. If you're doing both tours in the same day, you have about an hour to get from Marché Bonsecours back to Notre-Dame. This leaves little time to eat anything, as you're bound to be hungry from an hour and a half of walking. Keep this in mind.
Our tour guide for the Old Montreal West walking tour was the lovely Catherine. With a bright smile and near-endless enthusiasm, Catherine proved to be a great guide for our group. This time, we numbered about 8 people, all of whom took the East tour in the morning.
We walked the streets with Catherine, learning about the West side of Old Montreal. There's a lot of commerce and economic history to this tour, as we visited two banks, the World Trade Center, and other sights significant to the economic development of the city. Also, you'll end the tour at Pointe-à-Callière Museum, which sits on top of the very spot where Montreal was founded and the first settlement was build.
Catherine kept us laughing and entertained, and had a great grasp of the knowledge and history. I walked away from the tour feeling like I learned a good deal more about this awesome city.
If you're considering booking this tour - do it. I'd also recommend booking BOTH the East and West side tours, as each is very distinctive and informative. It's a long day, but definitely worth it. Plus, by the time you're done, you'll be able to navigate Old Montreal without a map.
It's important to note that we had a choice if we wanted to have an English speaking guide or a French speaking guide for the East walking tour. I did not have this option later in the day for the West tour.
A quick note: I booked both tours through Viator.com. Originally, I booked my tours on a Sunday. After I realized all the Museums in Montreal close on Mondays, I rescheduled. Viator was excellent in helping me reschedule for Sunday.
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