Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Getting to the Canadian Grand Prix is straight forward, ranking as one of the easiest to access Formula 1 races of the season. Staged on an island in the St Lawrence river, the track is a short metro ride from downtown Montreal.
Montreal’s Pierre Elliott-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) handles all domestic and non domestic flights. From here you can reach the downtown area in 20 minutes on shuttle buses, taxis and car rental.
The 24 hr Airport Express bus 747 terminates at the intercity bus station and can take 45 minutes to over an hour in heavy traffic.
From here you can transfer to local bus or metro. The final stop is close to the Berri-UQAM metro station though depending on where you’re staying it might be quicker to get off at Lionel-Groulx metro station (about 20 minutes) and take the train from there.
Regular one-way tickets cost CA$10 and can be bought at machines in the arrivals hall or you can pay the driver (cash only).
Tip: a weekend or 3 day pass costs just slightly more and gets you unlimited travel on the city’s integrated bus and metro systems. This will cover you for the trip downtown as well as to and from the circuit each day (see below for details).
Taxis to downtown are at a fixed rate of CA$40 and in theory should accept credit cards as well as cash, but check with the driver before getting in. All other destinations are on a meter with a CA$17 minimum charge.
The metro is by far the most convenient way of getting to the circuit and is the
choice of the vast majority of race fans. The Montreal Subway System (STM) services the Jean-Drapeau station on the yellow line, located close to the circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
It should take between 10 and 40 minutes to get to depending on where you’re staying in the city. Leave in good time and be aware there will be a 10-25 minute walk from the circuit depending on where you are seated at the track (see the boxed text below).
The trains normally run every 4-5 minutes on weekdays and 8-11 minutes at the weekend but during peak times over a Grand Prix weekend more services will be put on. The metro can be crowded, especially on Sunday after the race, but station staff do their best to keep the lines moving, guiding and assisting people with tickets and generally things run smoothly.
Be sure to get a return ticket to avoid the queues after the race. The fare is CA$3.25 for a single journey and are valid for up to 120 minutes after first use.
If you’re going to the track on Saturday and Sunday pick up a weekend pass for CA$13.75 and enjoy unlimited travel on Montreal’s integrated metro and bus systems from 4pm on Friday to 5am on Monday. For Friday to Sunday Grand Prix goers a 3 day card is ideal allowing for unlimited use for 3 days (72hrs) from the time of first use for CA$19.
Regular tickets and multi-day passes can be bought at any metro stations either from a ticket booth or from the ticket vending machines with cash or card. They can also be purchased from many authorized retailers around Montreal.
If you have a ticket for unreserved seating on the day of the Grand Prix and are planning an early start, the first train is at 5:30am. The last train leaving the circuit is at 1am so there’s plenty of time for hanging around to soak up the ambiance and avoid the crowds.
When you exit the Jean-Drapeau station you will need to access the circuit via one of two bridges that connect St Helen’s Island to Ile-Notredame.
Grandstands 15, 21, 22, 24 (Lance Stroll), 31, 34, 46 and 47 are a short walk away. Veer left after the station and cross the Cosmos bridge and from here follow the signs.
For the fastest route to grandstands 1, 2, 11, 12, 33 and Platine take the path to the right, beside the fountains outside the station. You can then cross the Concorde Bridge. Because of the long nature of the circuit it’s quite a trek. If you think a 45 minute walk sounds like too much for a Sunday morning you could save your legs and take bus 777 directly to the circuit gates near the Casino. You won’t save a lot of time if you have to wait for the bus, but you will save some energy and cut your walking time down to about 25 minutes.
If you want a more relaxed and altogether more original way of getting to the circuit you may consider the Navettes Maritimes river shuttle. It’s a bit pricier than the metro but still affordable at CA$4.25 for a one way crossing (free for children under 6).
There are 4 services that will get you to the circuit in time for the race – starting at 9.35am there is one service every 60 minutes. Don’t go any later than 12.35pm or you risk missing the start of the race. Coming back the last boat is at 6.45pm.
Board the ferry at Old Port of Montreal – a few minutes walk from Champ-de-Mars metro station. If coming from east of the St. Lawrence River you can leave from the port of Longueuil. Hop off at Ile Ste-Helene. From here it’s a pleasant 10-15 minute walk to the circuit.
It is not recommended to drive to the circuit as no parking is provided and there is little parking in the area. Leave the car at home at the hotel or within walking distance of a suburban metro station and hop on the metro to the circuit instead.
In normal conditions a trip from downtown to the circuit will take about 10-15 minutes and cost $20-$30 depending on where you’re staying. On a race weekend you could reasonably expect the heavy traffic to double those estimates. If you plan to take a taxi to and from the circuit it is strongly advised to arrange the return journey in advance.
I’m Danny, an incurable Formula 1 fan for over 30 years and founder of The F1 Spectator. My aim is to inform and inspire, arming you with helpful tips and advice for your next F1 trip.