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What to Do in Old Montréal if You Have Just One Day

Walk east on rue Notre-Dame, one of the grand streets of the old city and home to the Montréal government. An important navigational note: Street numbers will get lower as you approach boulevard St-Laurent, which is the north-south thoroughfare that divides Montréal into its east and west halves. Numbers will start to rise again as you move onto the eastern side of rue Notre-Dame.

One block after Place d’Armes is the Palais de Justice, on your left at 1 Notre-Dame est. The courthouse was built in the 1970s and took over operations from the Vieux Palais de Justice two blocks farther east, at 155 rue Notre-Dame est. That courthouse was completed in 1856, with the dome and the top floor added in 1891. (You’ll be able to spot the differences.)

The next building, at 275 rue Notre-Dame est, is the turreted Hôtel de Ville (City Hall; pictured above). This ornate building has been Montréal’s official City Hall since 1878. It was here, in 1967, that French president Charles de Gaulle delighted Québec separatists by shouting from the balcony, “Vive le Québec libre!” (“Long live free Québec!”)

Across the street, at 280 rue Notre-Dame est, is Château Ramezay, built in 1705 as a grand home to the city’s royal French governors. It’s now a museum.