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Metro Roulette- Viau

Posted by Olivier / July 9, 2009

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At first glance, Metro Viau looks to be caught at the intersection of industrial wasteland and 70's era Montreal megaprojects. In a seeming deadzone, Viau falls just south of Parc Maisonneuve, lies in the shadows east of Stade Olympique, grazes the northernmost border of Hochelaga-Maisoneuve, and sits gratefully west of the industrial yards on the other side of Rue Viau.

But walk a few minutes out of this urban wormhole and encounter not only some of the city's biggest tourist draws, but dynamic Montreal neighbourhoods as well.

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The station itself has moments of the Metro system's infamous slightly-off the mark artistic flair, as the picture above shows. The skylights are an especially nice touch for an otherwise dreary station- sort of like a cheery prison yard.

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Walk outside of the station, and the elephant in the room smacks you in the face: Stade Olympique. It is ever present wherever you walk in this neighbourhood, and one feels a certain sense of respect when up close to the beast.

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Also in the immediate vicinity of the station is the Maurice Richard arena, an unfortunate looking building inexplicably used by the Arcade Fire for a show here a few years back. So ugly it's cool?

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But true to it's name, the arena boasts a relatively life-like homage to the Rocket, though at a size considerably larger than the real thing. (Note bike in photo for amateur attempt at perspective)

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To the east of the station is no-man's land.

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Which leaves the neighbourhood to the South as the best area to explore. While it cannot rival the areas further southwest in the heart of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, the neighbourhood south of the station and up to the Hochelaga boulevard is pleasant. Certain aspects of it are quintessentially urban Montreal: traditional row-housing, graffiti murals on brick walls, greasy diners with longtime customers and extensive menus.

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But walker further southwest through the neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, and you experience a part of the city that many of us Plateau-centric Montreal transplants don't even know exists. I recommend a bike trip down the bike path on Rue Lafontaine on a beautiful day. I leave you with some images from this area to encourage you to persevere in case you're get off at Viau Metro and wonder what exactly you're doing there.

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