I’m sorry calendar (and anyone born this month) but April isn’t the nicest month in Montreal. While I agree that it’s a welcome change from the dark winter months, it’s usually wet and cold and the melting snow (while satisfying) is a pretty nasty sight of dull grays and browns. Also, I woke up this morning (April 5th) and there was a dusting of snow on the ground. It’s supposed to be a cold rainy/snowy weekend in Montreal so I have a great indoor suggestion: the Butterflies Go Free exhibit at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.
We visited the Gardens a few weeks ago and I would certainly recommend this morning/afternoon adventure. The Botanical Gardens are located at 4101 Sherbrooke Street East, Montréal (H1X 2B2) and the complex is part of the Insectarium and the Biodome. I’ll post about those museums soon; the Biodome is super family friendly.
The event runs from February 14th (how sweet!) to April 28th 2013 and if you haven’t experienced this treat yet, I think it’s worth the trip. Purchasing the ticket for the Gardens also allows entrance to the Insectarium so I recommend starting your day early if you want to see them both (and why not?). Remember that this area is a bit of a tourist trap so although as a Quebec resident you will be paying resident admission price, it’s still pricey and of course, parking isn’t free. Rates are as follows: Adults $15; Seniors (65+) $14; Students (18+ with ID) $11.25; Kids (5 to 17) $7.50 and Family (2adults/2-3 kids) $42. Kids under 5 are free.
The butterflies are a temporary exhibit but to get to them you have to walk through the permanent gardens. It’s a collection of greenhouses that house plants from various climates around the world. They are all beautiful and entering each greenhouse is like a voyage to different parts of the planet. The cacti and succulents are in a dry, warm climate while the tropical plants are in a greenhouse with dense, humid air. Your children have to be older to appreciate this section of the Gardens; my toddler son particularly loved the dirt in the desert area and he was entranced by the water displays in the orchid room. Regardless, there were many smiling and giddy kids so my son was caught up in the excitement even if he didn’t “appreciate” the plants.
We went to the Gardens on a Saturday. If at all possible, I would recommend going to the butterfly exhibit on a weekday. It was very crowded! There was a line-up to get into the butterfly area (it’s sectioned off so the butterflies can’t escape) and once we were inside, I thought I was going to melt in the heat of the enclosed space. In hind sight, I also recommend using the coat check option!
But once inside…despite the heat…wow! Butterflies have such a calm flutter to their flight. It’s like they are floating on wisps of air casually making their way from flower to flower. It’s actually really magical. It reminded me of an amazing Ecomuseum I visited PB (pre-baby) in Costa Rica. It was there that I first saw the Blue Morpho (pictured above) in real life (before that it had only been in pictures or display cases) and I was blown away by the spectacular vibrancy of their wings. There were many Blue Morpho flying around along with other butterflies and moths. This year, the Gardens are showcasing the Monarch–aptly named as the King of all butterflies. It really is quite spectacular and if you are lucky, a butterfly might land on you! Isn’t that a sign of good luck?
Try to make a point of experiencing this exhibit. It’s only open for another few weeks! By the way, it’s the last weekend for the sugar shacks around the Botanical Gardens selling their delicious Quebec-made maple syrup and taste-testing the taffy on snow (“tire”).
Link to the Montreal Botanical Gardens official site: