It is a beautiful late summer day when I arrived at a bike rental shop in the old part of Montreal. While I was looking at the map, my idea was to cycle towards the east along the St. Lawrence river. But when I ask advice from the rental guy, who supplies me with a map, he points out a cycling route to the west, along the Lachine canal, which would bring me to the Parc René Lévesque, an art park at the very end of the canal, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. It sounds like a nice proposition; moreover, I meet an American girl who is heading the same way. We get on a cycling path right away, and first make our way through the part of Montreal where huge ships once arrived and departed, on their way to the ocean. Old factories are still in place, as well as a series of locks to deal with the difference of water level.
After a few kilometres, we stop by a big market to buy something to drink and eat, and continue for a nice ride along the canal. At the very end of it, we find the entrance to the Parc René Lévesque - which is named after the premier of Quebec, and the first political leader of our time to try to achieve political independence for Quebec. We cycle around the park on a 4km path. Since it is a beautiful weekend with bright weather, there are lots of people around, but the park is big enough to give everyone space to enjoy. There are plenty of different works of art, both from Canadian and foreign artists, and we stop regularly to take a closer look. That is, if the many Canadian geese and other birds allow us: they are everywhere in the park! When we reach the end of the peninsula, we find ourselves a nice spot on the rocky banks of the St. Lawrence river to finally eat the stuff we bought at the market. The river looks inviting, but we eventually decide not to jump in, because we did not bring towels, and don't have much time left.
There is more to explore in the park: there is a collection of artsy pillars that look like flowers, in honour of the man after which the park is named; there is an installation with cats, another one with poles with all kinds of objects in it. The objects are placed everywhere, and it pays to walk on the grass, and discover more than you can see from the path itself. Then, a little further on, there is the Story Rock, with engravings all over it, and a row of five large legs, filled with stones, right on the banks of the St. Lawrence river. We have reached the exit of the park, and it is time to make our way back to the city. We follow a path on the banks of the St. Lawrence river, at the southern end of the island cut off by the Lachine canal. We take some detours, see the sun sink bellow the horizon while crossing one of the many bridges, and are just in time to bring back our bikes after a very pleasant afternoon - happy to have followed the advice of the rental guy.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Parc René Lévesque (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Parc René Lévesque.
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