Thanks to what was the strangest schedule change I’ve ever experienced, I could do some plane spotting in Montreal before catching my flight to Toronto.
After doing a bit of research online, I decided to head to Jacques-de-Lesseps Park, named after the pilot of the first airplane flight in Quebec, which offers great views of action on runway 06R/24L.
Getting to the Park
If you have a car, getting to the park should be a breeze and should take you about 35-45 minutes from the city center.
Getting to Jacques-de-Lesseps Pars without a car is not too difficult either, though. In fact, when I visited it I had to rely on public transportation. What you need to do is look for connections from wherever in Montreal you are located to Côte-de-Liesse / Halpern bus stop.
Going from the city center, it will likely involve taking metro line 2 to Du Collège station and transferring to bus line 202-O there. (Make sure NOT to get on line 202-E which goes in the other direction.)
From the bus stop, it’s about a 5 minute walk to the park.
The walk on the way back is slightly longer since you will have to cross a tunnel to get to the other side of the road to get to Côte-de-Liesse / 55e Avenue bus stop where you can catch bus 202-E.
Facilities at the Park
The great thing about this spotting location is, of course, the fact that it’s a park. As such, there are plenty of benches to sit down on and relax in-between all the movements. Or, if you don’t take photos in cloudy weather, while waiting for the sun to come out…
Separately, to help you get the fence out of your photos, there is a five-step stand as well as a dirt mound. Personally, I preferred photographing from the dirt mound which was high enough to provide an unobstructed view (and photos without fence in their bottom part).
There are also a couple of informational signs detailing the aircraft that visit the airport and so on.
About a ten minute walk away from the park, on the other side of the road near the bus stop for the bus back to the city center, there are a couple of places where you can get something to eat or drink including Tim Hortons.
Those places will also be your best bet in case you need to go to the restroom given that there’s none in the park.
Plane Spotting at the Park
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the park offers excellent views of runway 06R/24L as well as of the adjacent taxiways. During my visit, runways 24L and 24R were in use with the left one being in use mainly for take-offs, but later on also for landings.
In terms of traffic, you will mostly see all kinds of Air Canada and Air Transat aircraft with a bit of other Canadian companies mixed in. Out of those, you will most likely want to time your visit with the schedule of Air Intuit’s Boeing 737-200Adv.
During my short visit, the only non-Canadian aircraft I had a chance to see were commuter planes from the United States. However, throughout the day, airlines from further away including Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Air China among others, can be seen flying in and out of Montreal airport.
As far as photography in the park is concerned, the light will be behind your back from the morning till early afternoon. And, a 70-200mm lens will cover most of your needs in case you have an APS-C body (you can see my equipment here).
Other Plane Spotting Locations at Montreal
During the limited time I spent in Montreal, I had a chance to visit one more spotting location – the top floor of the airport’s parking garage.
While it seems to be a fairly decent location in case 06s are in use (you can photograph 06R approaches up close), during my visit I was only able to get aircraft vacating 24L after landing. And, even though the scenery was quite nice, heat haze deemed the photos unusable.
There also seem to be several other photo spots around the airport. However, I didn’t have a chance to visit them and so I’m not sure how good they are. Before you go spotting to the airport, though, I recommend checking out this guide which has some information about many of the other spots around the airport as well.