At 233 meters (764 feet), Mount Royal may be modest as far as mountains go, but this is the peak after which the city is named. It is also home to one of Montréal's largest parks. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York's Central Park and San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, created the original design for the park although a recession in the 1870s meant it was only partially completed. One of the city's most famous landmarks, a 31-meter (103-foot) cross stands at the top of Mount Royal, a popular spot for photos or just to take in the view of the city below.
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High Up and Away from the Hustle
Few places in Montreal can boast the peace and quiet of Mont Royal. Where else can locals hang out with beavers, foxes, raccoons, and squirrels, all while breathing the fresh mountain air and admiring the sun's reflection on the lake? Indeed, Mont Royal Park has been a big hit among Montrealers ever since its completion by Olmsted in the 1860s.
Mont Royal also offers incredible views of downtown Montreal, as well as the Olympic Stadium in the east.
Particularly lovely in the fall due to its elevation, the park's foliage turns to bright hues of red and orange. Who doesn't like a good autumn spectacle? Pack a picnic at the shops on nearby Mont Royal Avenue and enjoy a well-deserved day in the sun.
Landscaped by the famous Frederick Law Olmstead, of Central Park fame, Mount Royal Park covers most of what is known in local parlance as “the mountain”, easily the most famous of the city’s green spaces. More accurately described as a hill, Mount Royal sits between four neighborhoods: the Plateau eastward, Outremont northward, the appropriately named Westmount westward, and downtown to the south. Start your exploration via the Plateau, where on warm-weathered Sundays the base of the mountain becomes a gathering place for a tam-tam and tambourine party. The dozens of percussionists lend their rhythm to the hundreds of bon vivants who come to lounge and picnic in the grass. Further up the hill, you’ll find hiking, biking and cross-country skiing trails, Beaver Lake (a picturesque spot to skate in winter) and a handful of viewpoints that will take your breath away. Look to tour organizations like Les amis de la montagne and Fitz & Follwell for guided tours of this landmark.
Photo: Susan Moss
Centrally located, and with a truly wild feel in places, Mount Royal Park is every bit as key to understanding Montreal as Central Park is for Manhattan. Taking a recommendation from our hostess Sophie at Casa Bianca (our lovely B&B just across the street from the park), we spent our first morning in Montreal hiking to the top of the mountain, which offers sweeping views of the city (not to mention a nice little workout to stave off any jet lag).