Twenty Four Hours in Gay Montreal

Published Date Author: , November 20th, 2010

Gay MontrealWith a hired bicycle and his best French accent, Daniel Scott spends a golden day sampling the city’s street life.

With 500 kilometres of cycle paths and the Bixi bike-sharing scheme (bixi.com/home) offering more than 5000 bikes at 400 locations across town, Montreal is among North America’s most bicycle-friendly cities.

“The city rides hard,” my Montrealer friend, Marc-Andre Gemme, tells me during a July visit, “well, mainly in the summer.” When the city finally thaws out after its long, cold winter, 14 per cent of its population takes up cycling as the primary means of transport. So I set out to see the city the way they do.

8am

I don cycle shorts and walk across Old Montreal from my accommodation – Hotel XIX Siecle (now Lhotel), housed in a 19th-century bank and with an old-world ambience – to the magnificent Notre-Dame Basilica, at the corner of the Place d’Armes. With most of Montreal’s bike paths safely separated from traffic, there’s no need to offer prayers but I’m quietly awed by the cathedral’s 7000-pipe organ and its gleaming stained-glass windows from Limoges in France.

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