Place Jacques-Cartier is a famed historic square that was named after the renowned French explorer Jacques Cartier and sits at the heart of Old Montreal. This sloping quarter is tranquil and slow during winter and comes alive during spring. The area is rich with a multiplicity of characters, events and entertainment for everyone. Lined with restaurants, shops, and scenic sites, this square is never devoid of things to do and see.
A Brief History
With over a century and a half of prolific history, Place Jacques-Cartier started as an unofficial location where people converged for different purposes. When the Château of the Montreal governor was burned down in 1803, a new marketplace was built with wooden stalls surrounded by stone buildings and inns. The Nelson’s column, a majestic 111 foot tall pillar was erected in the marketplace, and the square was eventually named in 1847. Since then, it has remained a hub of activities for tourists and residents alike.
The Place Jacques-Cartier Today
The square has a gently sloping gradient from rue Notre-Dame to the waterfront offering a spectacular view of the Old Port. As a busy gathering and entertainment spot, it is graced by street performers, portrait and face painters, caricaturists, musicians, and a host of different artists. Flower stalls, souvenir shops, and art stores are never in deficiency.
During the day, the numerous street cafes offer a 360-degree take of all the action. Being a car-free zone during summer, this makes terrace dining and street activities easier and more enjoyable. Nighttime is no different; with vibrant Victorian lamps lining the streets, Place Jacques-Cartier remains an interesting place to be especially during the high tourist season of Christmas. The affluent 19th century manors and townhouses, together with historic monuments, offer a chance to learn the story of times gone by. As one of Montreal’s most popular spots, this square remains an instant attraction and a wonderful place to tour.