We all know that Montreal Comiccon brings in quite a crowd and is now held during tourist season. This means traffic, waiting lines for almost everything inside the convention centre – food, bathrooms, ATMs – and a general lack of personal space. Being familiar with the con’s surrounding area 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. The Convention Centre also connects to the underground city: a system of tunnels that connects most of the downtown core. You can travel from the metro station, to the con, to a mall and back, without ever stepping foot outside. Bookmark, print or save on 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 during weekends), street closures due to summer festivals (see: traffic jams) 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. All the transit information is loaded into Google Maps: from the trip calculator to bus schedules. You can also download the Transit app on to 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 weekend for under $20. Check out the STM website to find the point of sales closest to you.
Calling a cab is more your style? Pull out your phone and call up an Uber or a Taxi. Pro tip: install the app and put in your credit card information in advance. You can also kick it old school and hail for one driving down the road or walk to the nearest Taxi stand.
“That’ll be 20 Rupees”
Having some liquid money on you is a good idea; not every vendor on the floor can take cards and sometimes, the sheer amount of transactions can clog the system. For those of you visiting from outside of Canada, your card might not even be accepted (Discovery Card for example) 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 near the Palais des congrès:
- 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.
- Place des festivals – a few blocs north of the Convention Centre and easily accessible through the underground city, this area hosts all of the major festivals. You’ll find some of Montreal’s most famous food trucks serving their signature delicacies. Pro tip: have some money on you as most of these only accept cash.
- 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.
But what else is there to do?
Visiting from out of town and you’d like to experience what Montreal has to offer? Well, you’re in for a treat. Music lovers can attend the Montreal Jazz Festival which offers a variety of free and paid concerts at the Place des festivals. Can’t get enough video games? Check out Meltdown, Foonzo or Arcade MTL. For those of you who prefer table top, you can get post-con drinks at Pub Ludique Randolph and take advantage of their extensive collection of party and board games. You can also visit the souvenir shops and eat tasty treats in Chinatown. Looking to shop ’till you drop? Downtown Montreal has many malls, stores and boutiques that cater to every style and budget.
And there you have it! Don’t be afraid to explore and remember to have fun! See you at Montreal Comiccon!