Considered by many locals to be the heart of Old Montreal (French: Vieux-Montréal), Place Jacques-Cartier is a public square that is lined with cafés and restaurants. Spanning two blocks, this cobbled square is the perfect venue to observe all the old world charm that Old Montreal has to offer. The square maintains its old city charm with its European style and architecture, along with the cobblestone walkway that is surrounded by historic architecture that dates back to the 1800s. Place Jacques-Cartier is lively throughout the year, particularly during the summer months. Throughout the summer, there are public entertainers and artists (ranging from traditional painters to temporary tattoo artists) that perform all along the square.
At any time of year, you will find restaurants on both sides of the street and many more on the surrounding streets of Old Montreal, notably on Rue Saint-Paul. Every summer, Place Jacques truly comes to life. Restaurants become packed, street performers appear along with jugglers and other street artists who fill this downhill slope. During the summer months, this delightful public square in the middle of Old Montreal becomes a pedestrian mall with street performers and various outdoor cafés located all around the square. Street performers, portrait painters, musicians and other public entertainers are available all day long. At night, the surrounding restaurants become packed with both tourists and locals alike. In the winter months, especially the Christmas season, the square is lined with lighted trees, making it the perfect place for a romantic stroll.
Place Jacques Cartier features a lovely historic square leading into a pedestrian style mall with beautiful shops, lovely decorated areas, spacious outdoor restaurants and cafe’s along with street performers, artists, and craft vendors. This area is on a sloping street with views of the river. This slopey square is bordered uphill by the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) and the Old Port downhill. Originally opened in 1804 as a municipal market, the square is named in honor of the man who discovered Canada and Montreal, Jacques-Cartier. It was officially named Place Jacques-Cartier in 1847, although many locals had been using the name unofficially before the name became official.
Surrounded by European style architecture, bustling street vendors and crowds of people, the square will make you feel the heartbeat of Old Montreal, especially in the summer. The most notable monument in the square is the Nelson Column, a monument dedicated to Admiral Horatio Nelson, which was erected in 1810. The statue was removed in 1997 to preserve it from the weather, and was subsequently replaced with a copy. Montreal’s City Hall (French: Hotel de Ville), is also located on Place Jacques-Cartier. The square stretches from Rue Notre-Dame in the north to the Old Port in the south. It is one of the two most popular public squares in Old Montreal, with the other being Place d’Armes.