It’s taken me quite a while to finally write this post, but I wanted to share some of the things learned after heading to our first Montreal F1 race!
I’m going to highlight all of the details on travel, food, weather (it was wild) and everything in between, but if you have any other questions feel free to ask me!
It was our first time ever going to an F1 race so we had no idea what to expect, and I was scouring the internet to read everything I could about what to expect. I found a few different blogs and articles but there wasn’t much so I wanted to contribute something to the internet.
There are multiple ways to buy tickets to the race which I didn’t know, and the hardest part of the whole experience was finding a place to stay which I wouldn’t really expect.
We tried a few good great restaurants, and overall had an amazing time, so here is a roundup of what happened!
Our F1 Tickets:
There are a few different ways to buy your tickets which I did not realize! You can purchase them directly from the Canadian GP website, or another spot I learned about was F1 Experiences. There are a couple other “official” ways to purchase tickets, but I just want to stick to the ones I understand to be authentic.
We opted to use F1 Experiences. They provide packages at all different price levels for the weekend. We opted for the Trophy Package which included our hotel accommodations, passes for the whole weekend, a bus from our hotel to the venue each day, and one experience day where we would go on a track tour, view the paddocks, and then “meet” a driver.
I say “meet” because really it’s more of them with a microphone speaking to the crowd, and our driver bailed on the experience which I will explain about later. This whole package cost approximately $6000 CDN.
Travel to Montreal:
We really waffled between flying or taking the train from Toronto, but we opted for the train. We had heard that the airports in Toronto were extremely busy before race weekend, so taking the train might have been the better way. Also, the cheaper way.
Make sure to upgrade to Business Class – more legroom, plus a hot meal is included and the food isn’t bad! The trip actually isn’t long at all (about 4.5 hours).
The trip was smooth, but to be honest the wi-fi was not. When the Via train stops, the wi-fi gets spotty. It definitely works but just keep that in mind.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Ouest Montreal. Overall this hotel was great! The location was right near Crescent street, and we could walk to all kinds of restaurants and shopping. With our F1 Experiences tickets we could chose from a few different levels of accommodations and this one was clean, it had a restaurant (we didn’t try it), and a small coffee shop that we did use.
Hotels book up months in advance for the weekend – I think this is the hardest part of planning your weekend – finding somewhere to sleep!
Transportation to the Race:
Based on the location of the race, you are either taking the subway to the race, or you have to have a private bus transfer. The subway was apparently very easy, but we heard (and could see) huge crowds, especially after the race.
You can’t take an Uber or taxi to the race – they aren’t allowed on the island that weekend. Your options are very limited.
Our bus was worth the cost of the ticket experience package – there was no wait for the bus, no traffic because there were so few of them, so we were so happy we had the bus!
The bus drops you off at the casino which is beside the entrance to the track, but there is still quite a bit of walking. Those who had paddock passes were able to take a boat all the way down to the start line, but otherwise you are walking quite a bit!
On the last day after the race it was busiest, so leaving took quite a while. It was a sea of people walking very very slowly – it probably took us an hour to get from our seats back to the casino.
Funny story – we didn’t sit in them.
We paid for Grandstand 12, Section 1, Row Y, Seats 3-6. We searched and searched online and these were the best seats we could find at our price point. Right before the race we saw something pop up on the website about being able to purchase entrance to a lounge. There were a few options, but there was one we could purchase if we had seats in a certain grandstand. We went for it, and I’m so glad we did. These were called terrace seats, and they were called Terrasse CGV and you could purchase your ticket for the day, or for the whole weekend. We chose the whole weekend and it was $250 per seat.
On the first day of practice we sat in our actual seats for a moment (and they were great – very high, great view), but once we made it into the Terrace we didn’t leave. There were seats you could not reserve but could sit in, and we each day at a table right beside the track. The seats where more like bar seats and weren’t crazy comfortable, but we were trackside and you couldn’t be any closer!
The lounge area had a few other couches, and overall just had lots of space for standing as well.
Mainly we purchased these seats because we heard about the better bathrooms, but overall we stayed because the seats were right in front of the track!
There was a small bar area with food, and there was a private section of bathrooms which were a bit better than the regular Porta-Potty’s everywhere. These bathrooms were in a trailer with sinks to wash your hands, and were only for Terrace ticket holders which was the big selling feature for us.
Food at the Track:
There were different areas around the track that had food stations set up – everything from lobster rolls, hot dogs, nachos, and sandwiches – anything you would find on a food truck.
It was expensive, and there were a few healthy options but nothing that I remember loving in particular.
There was a point in time I was able to head over to the Paddock Club section, and I can tell you that their food story was a bit different! Catering food options were offered for breakfast and lunch in each section, and the food looked amazing!
Food off the track:
Each night we had new restaurant to try, and all of them were really good! Here are the ones we went to.
Bazart: It’s hard to even describe this place – part restaurant, part art gallery, part store, part nightclub? It was a lot of things and it was our most memorable dinner! We had a great family-style meal and the food and drinks were amazing. Quite expensive though, but worth it in my opinion.
Gyu- Kaku – Japanese BBQ: So good! We went on a cold rainy night and it really hit the spot. They have locations across Canada which I didn’t know, but we ate and ate and ate until we couldn’t anymore, cooked our food on an open flame, and finished dinner off with making our own smores. Such a fun interactive experience with more food than we could handle!
Vandale Speakeasy: Fun venue with graffiti all over the walls and good food. Interesting cocktails, and we loved the charcuterie board. Apparently some of the drivers ate at this restaurant the night before we were there!
Wienstein & Gavino’s was a lot of fun – it’s three levels, has a few outdoor patios, and the portions are huge! You can make a reservation online or just walk-in like we did.
Not restaurant, but before you leave Montreal you must go to St-Viateur Bagel. We got there at 11pm because they are open late, and ate some of their fresh bagels right in the street! There’s nothing like them – you have to go!
The F1 Experiences Experience:
Because of the bad weather we experienced, our day with a track tour and meeting a driver was delayed. This meant we had to do it on a practice day which was the worst weather day.
The track tour was very very cool! Basically after practice was done we hopped on a cool truck and trailer, and drove around the track. Many people actually walk on the track to get back to the subway, so there were lots of people trying to hop on our trailer for a ride!
It was so cool to see how long the track really was, and this was a very cool experience. Because our experience was a day late it was jammed together with the people from the actual scheduled group for that day, so it was way too busy. We didn’t want to get in a huge line to get a photo with the trophy, and our driver bailed on meeting us. He said he had to have a meeting after practice, so instead David Croft was there speaking to the crowd instead.
The experience wasn’t quite as great as I was expecting, but the track tour was cool. I would do it again for the track tour, but I expected more for the amount we paid. I understand the weather changed the experience so I can’t truly review this portion.
It’s just as expensive as you would expect, and more expensive at the track. Stock was a bit limited as well. We found an official F1 merchandise shop near Holt Renfrew and it had more stock and was easier to navigate. The prices were slightly cheaper, but they were even cheaper online.
We attended every practice session, qualifying, the sprint race, and of course the race! The busiest day by far was the race. Otherwise it wasn’t too busy on the other days. I think the weather had something to do with this as well – we went from incredibly hot to freezing cold rain, and back to hot again. IT was hard to contend with – we spent a full day hardly moving in the cold rain.
We loved everything about watching the race in-person! You do find yourself watching the screen because in your seat you only have a glimpse of that one point of the race so being near a big screen makes life easier.
My friend and I found a way to hang out near where the drivers enter the paddock, and we thought we might have caught a glimpse of a few people in F1 (there are a few ways for them to enter the paddock in Montreal) but our absolute highlight was seeing Lewis Hamilton in person. He was right there! We had to move out of the way of his car which was wild. Totally unforgettable.
Overall the Montreal race with all of its crazy weather was still something we would absolutely do over again. Was it expensive? Yes. We could have done it more cheaply, or at a higher cost as well, so there are definitely options for everyone. Finding a place to stay is likely the most difficult part of the whole weekend.
The experience is a costly one, even if you are just buying tickets directly with no other experience included. Food is expensive, and the accommodations are expensive. You could just buy race tickets to race day and nothing else, but we wanted to see practice, qualifying and the race.
We would go again and it was well organized. The weather put a damper on things, but it was still so much fun! It’s just important to be patient with all of the long lines and weather, but in the end it was a total blast! If you have any other questions please let me know!
Items in this post may have been provided to me for review, but all opinions are fabulously my own.