Hi Frugalistas! If you Google the search term “chateau in Montreal” there are a plethora of results. Most of them are hotels in Montreal. Some of them are hotels in the Dordogne. One is even a kebab shop! But look carefully and there is one French chateau in Montreal in those Google searches. The Chateau Ramezay in Old Montreal is a true French Chateau in Montreal. But like everything in Quebec, its “Frenchness” is not complete, and it does not tell the true story of this interesting museum.
History of the Chateau Ramezay
The Chateau Ramezay was built by Claude de Ramezay, the 11th Governor of Montreal. Originally from Normandy, and homesick for the architecture of his homeland, Chateau Ramezay was built in 1705 in a Norman style. Think stone walls, dormer windows and a copper roof.
For the first 200 years of its life, the Chateau served a number of uses – Governor’s Chateau, home to the West India Company, a school and a university. Then in 1895 it became a museum.
The modern Chateau
Now restored to its full French splendour it tells the story of multiple cultures within the Montreal region. Early rooms tell the story of local inhabitants prior to French colonisation. I was particularly taken with a display of baby and child artefacts. A pair of moccasins and the painted side of a crib were delightful.
But it’s what’s beyond that is the true star of this French Chateau in Montreal…….
Welcome to the Nantes Salon, designed in the 18th century by French architect Germain Boffrand. Restored to its original splendour, it is definitely a place to linger. Enjoy the wood panelling. Admire the glittering chandeliers (yes, there is more than one!). Find the portrait of Jean Talon – hero of Montreal, and after whom the Marche Jean Talon was named.
But don’t forget head downstairs. As well as a small 18th Century costume display there is a fabulous kitchen. Check out the barrel-type wooden cylinder to the right of the kitchen fire. What do you think it is? Apparently, it was designed for a small dog to run in and turn the spit rotisserie. Sort of a hamster wheel if you like. Not at all appropriate in a 21st century home, but an interesting original feature in an 18th century kitchen.
The last part of the tour takes on a slightly military flavour with some history relating to the 350th anniversary of the arrival of one of the French army divisions in New France. With over 1 million descendants in Canada and the United States, it also tells the story of many of today’s Canadians.
The Chateau Garden
Now a fraction of its original size (think 4 times smaller in fact) the French chateau does not stop at the Chateau. The garden is laid out as a traditional French potager garden. While it was very bare while I was there in early May, it was obvious what a joyous garden it would make in spring and summer.
If you visit the Chateau during warmer months, the garden terrace would no doubt make a perfect spot for a light lunch or afternoon tea to enjoy the garden.
Yes, the Chateau Ramezay is a French chateau in Montreal, but its contents tell a far richer story of Montreal’s inhabitants, their culture and their history. It’s one I thoroughly recommend you take time to enjoy.
Author’s note: In Montreal I was a guest of Quebec Tourisme and L’Hotel.
Interesting place to visit. No idea it actually existed, so thanks for sharing!
João Leitão | Nomad Revelations says
Montreal is the only Canadian city I’ve visited. I took the train from NYC to visit a friend living there. It was during winter – kind of cold but I really liked it. I did not visit the Chateau Ramezay, but thru your nice description, I somehow know a bit more about the place. Thank you for sharing.
Yes Claudia, it’s in Old Montreal and was not somewhere I was aware of either before I started researching my trip. Definitely worth sharing though!
Montreal makes a great train trip from the Northern USA. It’s such a cool city to hang out in with great bars etc, but its historic side is well worth exploring too.
It was wonderful reading about this fascinating historical landmark in my homeland. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful photos by the way.
Sarah Ebner says
What a lovely place to visit – seems very European to me, which I guess is not surprising! A lovely sounding day trip.
Valeria @ Rome, New York, London, World says
What a beautiful place! I’d love to sit outside and have lunch in the garden.
Mindi @ 2foodtrippers says
I have been to Montreal several times but have never heard of the Chateau Ramezay. I’ll have to check it out during my next visit.
Giulia Blocal says
Hi Jo, thanks for sharing it! When I travel I always look for hidden gems and minor sights to visit, and this French castle is exactly that. I’m adding it to my bucket list! 🙂
Natalie Deduck says
The decoration is really impressive!!
And I loved the way you started the article, found myself laughing about the “Chateau Montreal” Kebab, quite a fancy name for a kebab 🙂
Connie Reed says
I’ve not yet visited Montreal, but it’s on the list. I’ll be sure to visit the Chateau Ramezay. Thanks for sharing.
Montreal is an easy trip from the Northern US so you should definitely go! Such a fun city
Thanks Nat! I wish I had found out about the kebab shop before I went. It would have been great to add a photo of it to my post
Thanks for the kind compliment about the photos. The Chateau Ramezay plays an important role in the history of Canada despite its petit size
The great thing about the Chateau Ramezay Sarah is that it is quite small and is also in Old Montreal. You don’t need to make a special day trip as it can easily be incorporated into a walking tour of the old town. It is also just a short walk from the Basilica Notre Dame that I wrote about previously. Seeing both would be a great way to spend a morning or afternoon
Yes Valeria, if I’d been visiting in warmer weather that’s exactly what I’d be doing too! Lovely view over the garden
Ah, Mindi, that’s because I know you’re too busy getting into all that lovely food! The Chateau could easily be incorporated into a bar hopping trip around Old Montreal- or to walk off some of your culinary adventures
The Chateau Ramezay is definitely a hidden gem even though it occupies a prominent spot in town!
Elaine J. Masters says
What a find! I love quirky places and while this is a historical building the facts of its origins and the unique features make it a place I’d love to linger in. Thanks for sharing.
Elaine, you have summed up the Chateau Ramezay perfectly!
The more I read about places in Canada, the more I feel like booking a ticket to visit. This place looks great and I’ve heard only good things about Montreal. I’ll take that chandelier! Beautiful photos and great post
Absolutely beautiful place. An apparently well built to stand for so many years.
Milosz Zak says
We often forget that Quebec has a very strong aristocratic fact during the early colonial period. We should also not forget that France abandoned the French colonies in Lower Canada to the English, literally to trade it all for peace – the Quebecois have definitely not forgotten that.
Stephanie (@Pearlsnpassport) says
The French history of Canada is truly fascinating! Beautiful shutters on the Chateau!
This was my first time in Canada Kate and it was brilliant. Definitely won’t be my last visit
Yes, it’s obviously been well maintained over the years. Coming from Australia I love the old buildings I find on my travels because we just don’t have them
Yes, Milosz, the history of the English, French (and even the Americans) in Quebec is complex. The Chateau Ramezay was home to the Americans at one point too at around the time of the American revolution
Yes, Stephanie, I learned so much about the French history of Canada on this trip. I went to Quebec looking for France, but ended up finding so much more – as you’ll see in future posts.
On the first photo it doesn’t really look like a château, but then when you look at the inside it certainly does. Looks gorgeous,
It does have some “traditional” turrets that are 19th century additions, yes, the main frontage is quite restrained isn’t it?