Map: Plateau-Mont-Royal

There are as many routes to walk in the vast, storied urban neighborhood of Plateau-Mont-Royal as there are streets, alleys, sidewalks, and shortcuts in this hip, lively area. Many visitors choose the Main as the main course, starting from the very foot of (1) Boulevard St.-Laurent (corner of Rue de la Commune and Boulevard St.-Laurent). The Main is the main drag of Montreal, stretching from the port to the train tracks at Mile End and beyond. Tired pedestrians can also take the #55 bus up the hill, and see part of the route that used to be the historic Main Line, bisecting the East (traditionally French) and West (English) parts of the city. "Walk the best parts on a Saturday afternoon to get a real ethnic cross-section of the city," suggests Bill Brownstein, city columnist, the Gazette. Indeed, walking less than a mile and a half (about two kilometers), past Portuguese, Italian, Jewish, French, and Spanish sub-neighborhoods is a long trek that ends nicely by getting lost in the tasty maze of Jean-Talon Market.

Another option is to crisscross along the grid of streets that makes up the west, commercial side of the Plateau. After a snack and a few minutes people watching out the windows at (2) Café Cherrier (3635 Rue St.-Denis) on the corner of Rue Cherrier and Rue St.-Denis, take off through Square St.-Louis, a colorful city square surrounded by lovely Montreal row houses. Proceed down Rue Prince-Arthur E., a pedestrian street full of restaurants catering to tourists and students. This is also the area (every city has at least one) where you'll encounter mimes, jugglers, buskers, and the like. Once on (3) the corner of St.-Laurent (the Main), start walking north—you'll pass some of the city's best loved dive bars and Portuguese chicken grills, not to mention several hip boutiques on this stretch that connects the "real" Main (above Avenue des Pins) and the swanky end (above Rue Sherbrooke) that is jam-packed with club kids and valet parking on Friday nights. Continue up the Main on the east side of the street, you'll hit (4) Schwartz's Original Hebrew Deli (3895 Boulevard St.-Laurent), and now is the time to duck in for a "medium smoked meat" on rye bread and a pickle at what is possibly Montreal's most famous landmark.

Continuing up the hill, you'll pass (5) Rue Duluth (corner of Boulevard St.-Laurent and Rue Duluth), another pretty street studded with cafés, and end up in the (6) Parc des Amériques on the corner of Rue Rachel and Boulevard St.-Laurent. If it's summer, you might encounter a concert or a street festival as you turn the corner, and head east back toward Rue St.-Denis. At the corner of Rue Henri-Julien is (7) Eglise St. Jean-Baptiste (4237 Avenue Henri-Julien), one of Montreal's finest cathedrals, where you're as likely to catch an afternoon recital on their Casavant organ as an indie rock concert in the evenings.

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