After so many wet weekends, we have had some beautiful weekends weather-wise, for the last 3 weeks. Despite the really hot and humid weather for the last couple of weekends, we have been able to go out and enjoy the summer nonetheless. I get cabin fever real fast!
This past weekend (July 20-21), the temperature was finally at a comfortable level. We got out to the Just For Laughs festival (as posted prior to this) and did some shopping around downtown. On Sunday, the weather was amazing! Since it was such a great day, we made our way down to the Fete des Enfants with our daughter.
This huge “party” takes place every year in Parc Jean Drapeau. The park is situated on Ile St. Helene and is situated right next to Ile Notre Dame, a man-made island that features the famous Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. To get there, you need to take the Yellow Metro line to Jean Drapeau station.
Once you get off at Jean Drapeau station, you can walk to the bus station, which is across from the metro station, and catch various buses. These buses will take you to La Ronde, The Montreal Casino and to the beach (man made).
I strongly encourage you to explore both islands. In regards to Ile Notre Dame, you can actually cycle/rollerblade around the race track when the cars are not whizzing about. In regards to Ile St. Helene, it is a beautiful, natural, peaceful setting. Bring a picnic and a good pair of walking shoes!
Getting back to the Fete des Enfants. We got to the location and walked around a bit, amongst the thousands of other people that decided to come out on a beautiful day! There was so many people, it was unlike previous years. This was probably because the previous day had some threatening dark clouds looming around.
As it turned out, we just ended up walking around because everywhere we looked, there was very long lines of people waiting for the kids activities. I thought that waiting in line for 1-2 hours, was not going to be any fun compared to actually doing something.
My daughter likes cars, especially fast cars. She does not like huge crowds and I think she was beginning to see that it would be hard for her to do any of the activities. I asked her is she wanted to go and see the race track where the fast cars race. She said yes and off we went to a more quiet, adventurous afternoon.
To get to Ile Notre Dame, we took bus 777, which takes you to the Montreal Casino. It is a short bus ride and drops you off in front of the Casino. From there, it is a short walk to get into the park of Ile Notre Dame, which is surrounded by the race track.
Well, I have never taken the 777 bus to the Casino before, but it is quite popular with the Retired Chinese and Quebecois people. I guess they have to do something with their retirement funds!
As we got onto the bus, even before sitting down, a woman on the bus told my wife that kids were not allowed into the Montreal Casino! Now, keep in mind, the 777 bus is just a regular city bus and ANYONE can get onto it. But for some reason, this woman took it upon herself to remind us responsible parents, that we could not take our daughter to the Casino! My wife just smiled and said, “I know”.
We settled at the back of the bus and had only been sitting down for a few seconds when an old guy proceeded to come to the back of the bus and tell us the same thing! He had this look of bewilderment on his face as he looked at us, then our daughter. He asked me if I knew that the Casino was not for kids. I replied to him that I did and I told him, politely, that we were just getting off at the casino.
With the same bewildered look on his face, he went back to the front of the bus. At that moment, I was just waiting for some special force Casino security team to come storming the bus and dragging me out, arresting me and taking my daughter into protective custody!!
Well, no black helicopters or storm troopers showed up and we took off without any further incident, except for me loudly stating to everyone else on the bus that we had no intention of taking our daughter into the Casino!
Once we arrived at the Casino, we took a short walk to get into the park. Once you start walking around, you tend to forget that you are only a 10 minute drive from the concrete jungle that is downtown Montreal.
Everything is so green, it is quite extraordinary. As you walk around, you really do feel that you are miles and miles away from downtown Montreal. Aside from the lush greenery, there is also a little river running through the park. If you go all the way past the Casino and in front of the beach, you will be able to rent boats and go up and down this river. It is a nice leisurely ride.
If you are looking for a nice nature get-away, a way to get some peace and quiet from the city noise, this is the place to go. Explore both islands, Ile Notre Dame and Ile St. Helene. You will come away with a different view of Montreal.