A great way to discover the city is through a mix of social and historical contexts. L’Autre Montréal (3680 Jeanne-Mance #331, 514/521-7802, ext. 226, $15-25 adult) offers guided tours with a focus on history, architecture, urban planning, and sociology and gives you a great vision of the city’s unique culture and community. Some of the more interesting tours include a tour of Montréal’s back alleys and a look at the various immigrant communities. Tours of smaller neighborhoods not included in this book are also available and a great way to see places off the beaten path.
Les Fantômes du Vieux-Montréal (469 rue St-François-Xavier, 514/844-4021, May-Oct., $22 adults, $19 students, $13 children) is not for the easily scared. On this ghost tour of Old Montréal, guides in period costume tell you all about the hangings, sorcery, tortures, and spooky sightings that make up the city’s past. They also have specialized tours come Halloween.
Fitz and Folwell (115 ave. Mont-Royal W., 514/840-0739, $39-120), which offers both bike and snow shoe tours come winter, offers three distinct walking tours, one of which centers around the Montréal of writer Mordecai Richler. The other two tours feature the Underground City (perfect for -40° weather) and a food tour of the Main. All tours include lunch and range in price, so reserve and budget accordingly.
Guidatour (360 rue St-François-Xavier, 514/844-4021, May-Oct., $18 adults, $16 students, $9 children) runs walking tours of Old Montréal, offering amusing anecdotes and snippets of history as you wander the cobblestone streets. Guides are bilingual and tours depart from the gift shop at Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal.
Héritage Montréal (100 rue Sherbrooke E., 514/286-2662, May-Oct. Sat.-Sun., cost varies) is a nonprofit organization that takes visitors on various tours that explore the architectural, social, or historical evolution of the city’s neighborhoods. Departure points vary depending on the week and the tour, and reservations are recommended.