If your starting line is: The Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth
Few hotels around the world can boast a Running Concierge, but then again, few hotel chains dedicate as much thought to fitness as Fairmont does. (Try their fitness-gear rental program – it’s so handy!) At the Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth in the heart of downtown Montréal, every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 6:30 am between May and late September, the lobby fills with avid runners led by Vicki Findley, Convention Catering Services Manager in addition to being the Running Concierge. She and her colleagues – all marathoners or triathletes – combine the best of both worlds: fitness and exploration of this gorgeous city and its assets.
“As we run, we give information about the hotel and the city,” explains Findley. “It starts out chatty, but as we go and the breathing gets heavier, it tends to get a bit more quiet!”
Among the three jogging routes offered, the most popular is the 7 km downtown/Plateau run. The group goes up McGill, then runs into the McGill University campus to the exit on Milton. They continue east on Milton, until St-Laurent; then go north up to Prince Arthur. From there, they turn right and run up to St-Denis. On St-Denis, they head south all the way downhill until they get to the St-Lawrence River. They run west on De la Commune until McGill, then go back up the hill, across Square Victoria to end up back at the hotel on René-Levesque. It’s a great route to really understand how close the downtown core is to both the Plateau and the Old Port. Why don’t you try it for yourself?
If your starting line is: The Loews Hôtel Vogue
This beautiful downtown hotel may feel far from the mountain, but it’s actually a hop, skip and a jog away. Start by running northward up de la Montagne until you hit Avenue des Pins. Turn left and find the entrance to the Mount Royal just before Cedar. Jog up the stairs, and then the mountain is your playground: you can explore the entire western quarter on any of a dozen paths available. Find the main path that leads to beautiful Beaver Lake (or Lac aux castors) and run around it before turning back and retracing your steps.
If your starting line is: Casa Bianca
Few Plateau stays will be as enchanting as at this beautiful BB, in part because of the property’s choice location right across the main entrance to Parc Mont-Royal. Start by crossing Jeanne-Mance Park at Rachel until you hit the main path. Then let your heart guide you; you can stick to the main path until you reach the lookout and its outstanding view at the very top, or go even further and circumvent the famous cross that crowns the mountain. To come back, run down a different path, or take short cuts down the steps – the choice is yours.
If your starting line is: Hotel Gault
This gorgeous Old Montreal hotel is a fantastic starting point for an extensive exploration of the Lachine Canal. Featuring waterside parkland on both banks, it reveals a serene side of the city. Head south from the hotel until you hit De la Commune, then turn right. The run will start out with an urban vibe, as you pass the Old Port, until you reach the Canal bank proper, about 1 km in. Then, keep heading west until you feel like turning back. A good halfway mark is at Atwater Market, where you’ll find a footbridge to the southern bank. Run back eastward towards the hotel, and cross back over on any of three crossings at your disposal.
If your starting line is: Le Place d’Armes Hôtel Suites
Right in the thick of chic Old Montréal, you’d never think this historic property is within reach of the parochial Parc Jean-Drapeau. Not for the faint of heart, granted, this 10 km run starts on Rue St-Sulpice. Head south until you hit the water. Run west on De la Commune until you reach the bridge at Rue Mill. Continue on Mill westward until Riverside, then turn left and continue until you hit Avenue Pierre-Dupuy. Turn left again and stick on Pierre-Dupuy until it turns into Pont de la Concorde. Cross (check out the view!), and there you are, on Île Ste-Hélène, where you can run amok among the verdant paths of Parc Jean-Drapeau. Why not bring a picnic and make a day of it? When you’re ready to come back, simply repeat in reverse.
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