Paul’s Guide to Montreal- Part 1- Arriving

I’m currently visiting Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for the first time for the 2011 ISMRM (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine) conference. Montreal is a great city, so I decided to make a guide based on my experiences. It’ll be a mix of a travel log and guide. This part covers getting to Montreal.
I flew into Montreal on Sunday, May 8th, on Air Canada. Montreal’s International terminal is quite large. It didn’t help that the gate we arrived at was all the way at the end of the terminal. After about 10 minutes of walking, I finally went through customs, and then claimed my baggage.

Source: Google Maps

Getting Downtown:

The airport is about 8 miles from the downtown area. I’d read beforehand that the 747 Express bus runs between the airport and downtown, for only $8 CAD. You buy the ticket from a blue machine next to the information desk (see picture below).

Unfortunately, the machine only takes cash. Head over the nearby currency exchange (which is a bit of a ripoff), but I recommend using the ATM right next to the exchange. I’d suggest getting $40 CAD. First, the ATM fee ($1.25) isn’t a big deal at higher denominations, and second, you’ll inevitably run across a store or vendor that only takes cash. You’ll need at least $16 for the round-trip bus ticket, so keep that in mind when making your decision. $8 seems a bit steep for just a bus ticket, but considering a taxi would cost over $30, I’d say it’s a good deal. Plus, the ticket can be used for 24 hours on other buses and the metro. Depending on how long you’re staying, I’d recommend getting longer term passes, which can also be bought from the machine at the airport. In addition to the one day pass, there’s a three day pass ($16 CAD) and a weekly pass ($22 CAD). The one and three day passes come in paper ticket form, which is an RFID card that you just tap to check-in. The weekly pass can only be bought on an OPUS card, which is a more permanent card and costs an additional $6.

EDIT: Here’s what the card from the ticket machine looks like:


A few things to note. Montreal’s main language is French, but almost everyone speaks English. When visiting any foreign country, I’d suggest learning a few key phrases before arriving. For French-speaking countries, my go-to phrases are:

  • Pardon (which means pardon)
  • Bonjour (hello)
  • Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)
  • Merci (thank you)
  • Au revoir (goodbye)
For pronunciations, use Google Translate (it’s extremely helpful). I find that asking someone if they speak English produces better results compared to just walking up to them and assuming they speak English (particularly with the French, but don’t know to what degree Montrealians [is that right?]).
So now you can get downtown and explore!

Stay tuned for Part 2: Where to stay.

  1. December 29th, 2011

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