La Grand Roue – An Exciting New Attraction in Montreal’s Old Port
by Susan Campbell
Visitors to Montreal now have a new reason to visit The Old Port, not that they need one, in the past two years the historic quarter cresting the docks along the St. Lawrence River has seen some seriously exciting improvements. There is a new zip line over the water, new cruises, a new cruise ship port, a giant pirate ship playground, a manmade beach, an indoor labyrinth, and pedal boat rentals in the summer, and skating in the winter. Plus of course the original attractions like Notre Dame cathedral, Cirque de Soleil and the cobblestoned old world charm of the region. But now the crowning glory of the landscape is a brand new observation wheel, and at 60 meters high it is the largest of its kind in Canada.
The wheel is called La Grande Roue, and it’s surrounded by a massive new gourmet food and drink complex with the largest terraces in the Old Port. The new age Ferris wheel style attraction was built by Dutch Wheels NV that had created similar attractions in Singapore and Paris. You have a choice of gondolas- there are 42 in all- some public holding 8 people, others private holding 4 people, and one uber deluxe VIP cabin number 42 which holds 4 people and boasts high end leather seats and a glass bottomed floor. Each car is glassed in with video screens and music – you can choose to play your own tunes via Bluetooth or select one of theirs, and every cabin is air-conditioned or heated depending on the season.
The panoramic views from the wheel are incredible- the St. Lawrence River, the Old Port, the downtown city skyline and the marina. And at night the wheel lights up in neon colors competing with the city’s twinkling lights, and provides a great place to catch the fireworks over the water that are launched from La Ronde nearby during the Montreal’s annual summer festival. There are often fireworks in the Old Port to mark special occasions throughout the year as well.
The entire project was privately funded to the tune of 28 million, and the wheel opened on Sept. 1st, 2017 while the grand bistro and café complex followed in November. The dining areas can hold up to 2,500 people, and the entire attraction is now open year round. Parking is available right beside it.