Monday, 16 August 2010

Montreal: Parc du Mont-Real

Montreal from Parc Mont-Royal

For today’s walk we headed north from our hotel to climb Mont Real and explore the large park which now occupies it. We walked up Peel (having acquired the North American habit of dropping the Street, Avenue, Boulevard or whatever off road names) for a couple of blocks and entered the park. It was raining quite heavily and we decided to take the direct route up to the belvedere: there is a choice between the wide path which makes the climb by means of a gentle switchback and a series of staircases.

The first couple of staircases were fairly short and gentle, but then we came to the big one. We counted 250 steps.

We struggled up, but were impressed by the number of people who seemed to glide or even run up it. When we came back down later in the day it became clear that a significant number of people were using it as a training resource and were going up and down repeatedly. We saw stop watches, heart monitors and intermittent leg stretches.

A further sloping path brought us to the belvedere - not the highest point on Mont Real, but the one offering the best views. I am not sure however that the Montreal skyline is especially interesting (see the photo at the head of this post).

We now struck out along Chemin Olmsted, named for the designer of the Park. He also designed Central Park in New York and some others in north America. Apparently not all of his vision for Mont-Real was realised.

After a short while we passed Maison Smith (a stone 19th century building which is now a cafe) and left it via a field of stone sculptures.

Further along the path came to Lac de Castors (Beavers). We had a fantasy of having a nice lunch at the Pavilion restaurant, but it was closed. The cafe, which was open, was not sufficiently inspiring.

On the slope opposite a youngish man was using a metal detector with great care and attention, moving slowly upwards with frequent investigative stops. We did not hear any cries of Eureka.

We retraced our steps to the belvedere and took a loop behind it in search of La Croix. This felt more like walking along a country lane. After climbing for some time, we came on what seemed to be the highest point, a modern cross to the god of telecommunications. All roads led down from here, so we retraced our steps - the real cross was evidently a bit further on.

It seemed that autumn was coming early to one of the maple trees here.

We now followed the multiple staircases back down and exited the park to pound the streets in search of a bakery for some bread for a picnic dinner.

Conditions: fresh and wet at first, becoming hot and humid.

Distance: 5 miles.

Rating: three stars.


I saw but couldn’t photograph a beautiful Black Swallowtail (papilio polyxenes) and finally identified the large orange butterfly which I have seen intermittently as a Monarch. Obvious, really. There was also a Red Admiral, which seemed identical to the ones we see at home.

I am not quite sure what this is, but I admired its shape.


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