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Metro Roulette- Viau

Posted by Olivier / July 9, 2009

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.


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.


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.


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?


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)


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


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.


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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