Forget the hagglers and the steep prices: Place Jacques-Cartier really is the epicenter of Old Montreal. It was the gateway to the Old Port and to Chinatown—and to where it all began, back in 1723.
The square is named in honor of Jacques Cartier, the explorer who claimed Canada for France back in 1535. Just attempting to imagine how much history happened on this small square goes further than the imagination!
Locals usually visit the Place to grab ice cream, on their way to one of Old Montreal's many restaurants or simply to wander around and admire the beauty.
Fun fact: Did you know the Nelson's Column at the northern end of the Place is actually older than its London equivalent?
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When young Montréal was still contained within the boundaries of the Old Montréal historic district, the Place Jacques-Cartier was the commercial heart of the city. Connecting the city hall, at the top of the square, and the waterfront at its lower end, this was long the New Market Place. (The square was renamed in 1847 after the explorer Jacques Cartier.) The commercial roots of this landmarked square aren't completely forgotten, as artists sell their works here in the summer (when cars are prohibited), and it's the site of a Christmas market in the winter.