Sunday, June 24, 2012

By the Seashore in ... Montreal?

Sometimes, when dreaming of tiny Italian fishing villages or aquamarine waters and hidden coves on Croatian islands, it is easy to forget the beauty of your everyday surroundings. This summer, I made it my mission to finally explore all the places in and around Montreal that I had wanted to see for four years and yet never managed to get to. When my friend Steph invited me to help her paint her room (at her home in a suburb of Montreal), instead of taking the metro and driving, I thought ... why not bike? 

After taking various bike paths down South from the Plateau, you reach the Old Port (which in itself is lovely to explore). Follow the path that edges around the promenade close to the water steady West, and eventually you will hit the Lachine canal, a paradise for joggers, bikers, inline skaters and picknick-ers alike. 

Close to the canal, you can also find various rental services - for bikes, kayaks, canoes and pedalo boats - for the times that you want to get even closer to the water. I went canoeing there with some friends two weeks ago, and I had such a blast! The canal also holds dear memories to me because this is where I did almost all my long runs leading up to my marathon in 2009 - and let me tell you, if you are going to run 32 km, you will want your path to be pretty at least! 

Its name purportedly comes from the unsuccessful explorer Cavalier de Lasalle, who was convinced he could find a passage to China. Once he came back and had to admit his failure, the locals called the land he owned (and on which the canal was later built) La Chine (China) in order to mock him. 
The path leads out of Montreal proper, into the Lasalle borough and all the way up to Lake Saint-Louis, which adjoins the island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. 

doesn't it look like the sea?
 Then, I turned right to follow the Lakeshore route, which took me along the Northern edge of the lake. People here really seemed to lead a lifestyle similar to those living close to the ocean - there were yacht clubs, tons of parks, sitting areas and viewpoints along the water, and many pretty boats waiting for the next excursion. 

so much water!
I followed the path all around the lake until I hit Boulevard St. Jean - one of those horrible three-laned driveways clearly built for a car-dependent society - and was suddenly reminded that I was not, in fact, somewhere in Southern France, but in a North American suburb. Yet, I bravely defied the tons of cars and made my way safely to my friend's house for a successful day of painting. I left in the afternoon at 6.30 and followed the same route back home, which gave me the opportunity to enjoy the sights in the late afternoon sun. So pretty!!

this is the Lachine canal again.
Today my legs ache a tiny bit (I mapped it out and from door to door it was a 80km out-and-back trip!), but it was so worthwhile! I would suggest everybody snatch up their bikes and go explore - who knows what you will find! 

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