Named after a 16th-century French explorer, Place Jacques-Cartier is one of the main squares in Old Montreal (Vieux-MontrÃ©al). It was laid out in the early 19th century, and is lined with cafe terraces where visitors can watch as street performers and caricature artists vie for the attentions of passing tourists.
Few places evoke the historic, European-influenced flavor of Old Montreal quite like Place Jacques-Cartier. Myriad walking tours of Old Montreal, both private and group tours, stop at the square, as well as other nearby attractions including Notre-Dame Basilica, St. Paul Street (Rue Saint-Paul), and the waterfront Old Port (Vieux-Port). Tours by coach introduce visitors to the square, as well as highlighting other Montreal sights, such as Montreal Chinatown, Mount Royal (Mont-Royal), and the Olympic Stadium.
Things to Know Before You Go
Place Jacques-Cartier is a good spot for a coffee, glass of wine, or lunch, with several open-air cafes and restaurants situated around its perimeter.
The square is pedestrianized, meaning you can wander without worrying about traffic.
Place Jacques-Cartier is mostly wheelchair accessible, although the inclined surface may pose problems to manual wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Place Jacques-Cartier is situated in Old Montreal, stretching for two blocks from Montreal City Hall down to the waterfront. The nearest metro station is Champ-de-Mars (Orange Line), which is about five minutes away on foot.
When to Get There
Place Jacques-Cartier is at its best in summer when restaurants and cafes around the square open up their outdoor terraces, and musicians and street performers come hoping to earn their keep. The square is also atmospheric during the Christmas season, with festive lights strung on the surrounding trees and snow often on the ground.
The Nelson Monument
Towering over the top of Place Jacques-Cartier is Nelsonâs Column monument, which was erected in 1809. Unusual for this Francophone city, the monument pays homage to a British rather than a French hero: Admiral Horatio Nelson. Admiral Nelson was killed during the Battle of Trafalgar, in which the English were victorious over French and Spanish forces.