We all know that Montreal Comiccon brings in quite a crowd. This means traffic around the Convention Centre, waiting lines for almost everything inside the centre – food, bathrooms, ATMs – and general lack of personal space. Knowing what’s available outside of the con can save you a lot of time and trouble. Here’s my quick and easy guide to navigating the area around Montreal’s Convention Centre.
Don’t get lost
If you’re unfamiliar with the area surrounding the Convention Centre, make sure to have Google Maps ready on your phone. Search for what’s around and save to your map anything you think you’ll need (ATMs, Restaurant, your hotel, etc) so you can easily prompt for directions. If you want to avoid using your 3G, print or download to your device these handy downtown and underground city maps from the STM website.
There is parking at and around the Convention Centre however, be ready to navigate a maze of orange cones, tackle isolated traffic jams (yes, even weekends) and to pay about $20 a day for parking. That being said, I strongly recommend using transit. It’s cheaper, quicker and you’ll get a chance to meet fellow con goers! Plus, the centre connects directly to the Place-d’Armes metro station. Super convenient! All the transit information is loaded into Google Maps: from the trip calculator to bus schedules. You can also download the STM app on your iOS or Android device.
Tip: You can purchase unlimited cards instead of one-use tickets. The weekend card or the 3 day card offers the best value for money, giving you unlimited trips during the con week-end for under $20. Check out the STM website to find the point of sales closest to you.
Calling a cab is more your style? A lot of Montreal’s taxi drivers now user Uber, enabling you to call a cab and pay for your fare using your phone. You can also kick it old school and hail for one driving down the road. Just remember, not all cabbies take cards so have some cash on you.
“That’ll be 20 Rupees”
Speaking of cash, having money on you is a good idea and not just for cab rides. Not every vendor on the floor can take cards and sometimes, the sheer amount of transactions can clog the system. For you guys visiting from outside of Canada, your card might not even be accepted (ie. Discovery Card) so have some CADs in your wallet. Withdraw some in advance or on your way to the con. Here are some of the ATMs you’ll find around the Centre:
- BMO – 119 Rue Saint-Jacques (Corner of Côte de la Place-d’Armes)
- National Bank – 500 Place d’Armes (corner of Notre-Dame)
- Complexe Desjardins – Corner of St-Urbain and René-Lévesque. This mall connects to the Palais via the underground city and inside you’ll find an ATM for RBC, BMO and Caisse Desjardins.
- BMO – 61 René-Lévesque (between St-Urbain and Clark)
- CIBC – 200 René-Lévesque (between St-Urbain and Jeanne-Mance) Inside the Guy Favreau Complex
- Most metro stations have a Laurentian Bank ATM near the ticket booth
- Most hotel lobbies
There is food inside the con itself but expect long lines and higher prices. There’s restaurant and counters inside the Convention Centre’s mall but they also tend to get overrun by con-goers. Take advantage of the fact that Comiccon is taking place in the downtown core to enjoy one thing Montreal excels at: food.
- St-Laurent & Notre-Dame West axis – About 10 mins walking distance from the con and you’ll find any kind of food – Italian, Japanese, fast food, etc. There are familiar chains like McDonalds and local shops like Véritas Café.
- Old Montreal – Looking for a more upscale experience after a long day at the con? Walk south on Place-d’Armes or De Bleury until the street becomes cobble stone. Some places need a reservation, others can accommodate walk-ins. Check out the menus before hand to find a dining experience within your price range.
- Chinatown – Situated directly north of the Convention Centre, Montreal’s Chinatown has a lot of great food for a great price! My personal favourites are Keung Kee and Pâtisserie La Légende, both situated on de la Gauchetière.
- Complexe Desjardins – Where there’s a mall, there’s a food court! It’s a great lunch destination. Closes at 9pm on Friday, 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Finally, always know where the closest convenience store is (known as “dep” or “dépanneur” in the city). It’s the perfect place to fill up on snacks and drinks.
- Couche-Tard – 159 St Antoine St W, accessible through the Convention Centre.
- Dépanneur Ste-Anne – 141 Rue Saint Antoine Ouest, just outside the Convention Centre.
And there you have it! Don’t be afraid to explore and remember to have fun! See you at Montreal Comiccon!