Montreal on a Week in May – Insights from a Montrealer
By Christian S. Guay, MD, from the IARS, AUA and SOCCA 2019 Annual Meetings*
Montreal is truly a four-season city, and Montrealers have learned to embrace every day of the year. Although it’ll be warm for skating outdoors, and early for a day at the beach, there will be no shortage of activities to enjoy during your May week in The City of Saints during the IARS, AUA and SOCCA Annual Meetings.
There are countless parks and gardens spread across the island of Montreal, but Mount Royal Park is second to none. Inaugurated in 1876, it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted shortly after New York’s Central Park. Similar to Central Park, Mount Royal is widely considered to be located at the core of Montreal. Its vast network of paths and trails span over 40 km and include lakes, forests and rest stations. For a breath-taking view of the city, head north from the conference and climb through McGill University’s main campus on the south side of the mountain, up to the “Chalet du Mont Royal.”
Montreal is rich in culture, and this year’s conference is centrally located for you to explore its many faces. Step outside the doors of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel and you’ll find an international blend of food, language, art and music. Heading south to Old Montreal and the Old Port, just steps from the conference, is an easy choice. Filled with cobble-stoned terraces and restaurants, you’ll find casual Québécois foodies mingling with French haute cuisine. The streets are also filled with art, with “Cité Mémoire” projecting 30 augmented reality experiences on historic buildings and the Notre-Dame Basilica coming to life at night in the celebrated “Aura” show.
Heading east from the conference to Saint-Catherine Street is also a sure bet this time of year, with Montreal’s LGBTQ-village converted to a pedestrian-only zone featuring a series of festivities that run until September. For lovers of outdoor music festivals, the first “Piknic Électronik” of the season is scheduled for Sunday, May 19 in Parc Jean-Drapeau, right across the waterway from the Old Port. “Tam-Tams,” a more informal drum-and-dance music event, is also held weekly on Sunday afternoons, near the monument to Sir George-Étienne Cartier in Mount Royal Park.
Didn’t drive to the conference this year? Montreal benefits from a world-class public transit system, the “Société de Transport de Montréal” (STM). It ranks as the third most used rapid transit system in North America, after New York City and Mexico City. In particular, the Montreal subway system is well-positioned to serve conference attendees, with the “Square Victoria” subway station just one block away from the hotel. Popular ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are also available, along with local taxi services. For shorter commutes, consider the public bike system, BIXI. The core location of this year’s conference also positions you within walking distance to more than enough activities to make your weekend in Montreal a memorable one.
*Coverage from Montreal at the IARS, AUA and SOCCA 2019 Annual Meetings