NORTH AMERICA

Iconic Basilicas of Montreal – Christmas Special

We are well into the festive season and tomorrow we will once again be celebrating another Christmas. To mark the occasion, I decided to publish photos of beautiful Catholic basilicas that I visited during my trip to Montreal, Canada.

Montreal Basilicas

Montreal has been nicknamed the city of a hundred bell towers due the to the large number of beautiful churches. Wherever you look, you are likely to see a church steeple or dome. A number of these buildings, are world class in terms of architectural beauty and design. The following are just a few that are well worth visiting.

Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal

The Notre Dame Basilica that is well known to visitors to Montreal. It has a long history and has been built and demolished a number of times since the erection of the original small chapel in 1642. Construction of the Church as it stands today commenced in 1824 and was completed in 1829. In terms of architecture, the Church elders opted for a Gothic Revival style that was in vogue in England and the United States at that time.

However, what makes the Notre Dame Basilica an icon today is not the style or scale of the building but the magnificent interior. The sheer beauty is within its wall and the intricacy of its decoration. Sophisticated detail in the carvings, coupled with magnificent paintings and the magical blending of the principle colours of blue and gold are truly masterful. It is no wonder that international superstar Luciano Pavarotti performed his 1978 Christmas concert here or why Celine Dion choose it as the venue for her marriage ceremony. Notre Dame is rated by many as one of classic churches of the world and Montreal’s top tourist attraction.

Montreal Churches

Architecture – Notre Dame Basilica

Basilicas of Montreal

Notre Dame Basilicas Intricate Carvings

Basilicas of Montreal

The Interior of Notre Dame Basilica

Basilicas of Montreal

Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

The stately Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is one of the World’s great Catholic churches. Its visual attraction differs from the Notre Dame Basilica in that it is not the interior that draws hordes of visitors. Instead, it is the imposing size and position on top of Mount Royal. For me, of all the churches in Montreal, it is by far the most impressive structurally.

Montreal Basilicas

Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Interior

Basilicas of Montreal

Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Architecture

Montreal Basilicas

Basilicas of Montreal – Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral

The Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is often missed by visitors to Montreal who opt instead for the more popular Notre Dame and St Joseph’s basilicas. It is modelled after the famous St. Peter’s in Rome and is the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Montreal.

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Seasons Greetings

Remo Pollastri - Seasons Greetings

The Laurentian Lake District, Quebec

Laurentian Lake District

The Laurentides or Laurentians as it is generally termed in English, is one of seventeen administrative regions in Quebec. The southern most border is located just north of Montreal and encompasses part of the Laurentian mountains. It has become a popular tourist destination, based on a cottage and lake culture in the summer, and skiing in the winter months. Like most of Quebec, this region is covered by thousands of lakes. During the warmer months, Inhabitants of Montreal escape the hustle and bustle of the city and head to the many quiet lake locations in this area.

Lakes and Rivers of Quebec

Quebec has often been described as the land of rivers and lakes. This is not surprising considering it is home to the mighty St Lawrence river and to hundreds of thousands of lakes. There are over half a million lakes in the province and four and half thousand rivers. Many of the lakes are immense, with thirty having a land area of in excess of two hundred and fifty square kilometres.  A total of over three hundred and fifty thousand square kilometres of land is covered with water. In comparative terms, this equates to the total land area of Germany. The Laurentian lake district is one of the regions that is packed with lakes and rivers.

Lac De Cornes Sunrise

Lac De Cornes is just over 250 km north west of Montreal and borders the Parc Regional Kiamika. Secluded cottages are available to rent and it is a wonderful place to hike and paddle. It is also an excellent base from which to explore the rest of the Laurentian Lake District. I highly recommend waking up early and taking a walk along the shoreline. On a crisp morning, the mist and the sunrise make for a beautiful sight.

Laurentian Lake District Sunrise

Lac Vaillant, Laurentian Region

Lac Vaillant lies immediately to the north of Lac De Cornes and the two lakes are connected by a narrow stream. The beauty about staying at this small reservoir is that there are only 4 cottages/chalets on its banks. This means that visitors have a high level of seclusion and privacy.

Lac Vaillant, Laurentian Region

Kiamika Regional Park

Kiamika Regional Park is one of the lesser known parks in the Laurentian region but is well worth a visit. It is far less crowded than the popular parks. In terms of size, Kiamika is over a hundred and eighty square kilometres and has dozens of lakes as well as over forty islands.

Kiamika Regional Park, Laurentian Region

Lac Kiamika, Laurentian Region

Lac Kiamika is the dominant lake in the Kiamika Regional Park. There are two islands on the lake (Ile de la Perdrix Blanche and Petite Ile de la Perdrix). They are both amazing places to paddle to and explore.

Lac Kiamika, Laurentian Region

Lac Perodeau, Laurentian Region

On a calm day, it is possible to capture the perfect reflection of the trees on the water.

Lac Perodeau, Laurentian Region

Lac Vaillant Sunset

Lac Vaillant Sunset

Mont Tremblant in Autumn

Mont Tremblant

Mont Tremblant Ski Resort is situated in the heart of the Laurentian Mountains approximately 130 kms northwest of Montreal. It is best known for its quality skiing during the winter months but is also a wonderful place to visit during the other three seasons. Autumn, in particular, is popular with the onset of cool crisp and the changing colours of fall.

The main village has the look and feel of being in an alpine ski resort. The pretty streets are cobbled and the buildings colourful. The architecture is traditional French Quebec in style.

The View From Mont Tremblant

The view from Mont Tremblant is stunning with a jigsaw puzzle of colourful rooftops, followed by a stunning lake and lush rolling hills. It is easy to catch chair lifts to different vantage points to take in the scene.

Mont Tremblant View

Mont Tremblant Village

Mont Tremblant is divided into three clearly defined areas, the Resort, the Old Village, and Downtown. The resort village is also called the pedestrian village. It is located at the base of the mountain and is the centre of tourist activity. There are more than thirty restaurants, bars and cafes and thirty five boutiques and stores in this sector.

Mont Tremblant Village

Lac Mont Tremblant

A twelve by one kilometre lake is just a few steps away from the village. It is a hive of activity during the warmer months. Sailing, swimming, powerboating and lunch and dinner cruises are all on offer during this period.

Lac Mont Tremblant

The Village Gondola

A free gondola is available from the parking areas to the pedestrian village. The ride provides an excellent vantage point to get the lay of the land. Furthermore, the aerial views from the individual carriages are outstanding.

Mont Tremblant Gondola

The Laurentians in Fall

Visitors flock to this region of Quebec in late September and early October to view the spectacular transformation of the landscape from green to fiery reds, oranges and yellows. It can be fairly busy at this time. I arrived early when the trees were just beginning to change. This allowed me to miss the masses but still witness some of the transformation.

Mont Tremblant in Fall

Mont Tremblant Restaurants

I found so many spotlessly clean restaurants with excellent service and wonderful food in the pedestrian village. However, be prepared to pay a premium in this sector of the resort. The old village and downtown also have many superb offerings and often at a lower price.

Mont Tremblant Restaurants

Mont Tremblant Sunset

At the end of my first day in Mont Tremblant I was privileged to experience a spectacular sunset. No doubt, icing on top of the cake!!

Mont Tremblant Sunset