A Taste of Montreal
For those of you seeking a little bit of charm and romance, the beautiful city of Montreal holds many hidden secrets. The heart of this Canadian city beats in French; but the mix of cultures is what really makes this city bloom.
It can take weeks, even years to discover all the hidden laneways, secret shops and local hangouts in Montreal, here are just a few of my favourite discoveries:
Walk the city
For a taste of Europe and a glimpse back into Canada’s rich French heritage, take to Old Montreal by foot. The historic area is one of the most popular areas for Expedia’s Aussie travellers and a good base for exploring the city. You can meander through the cobblestone laneways, admire the beautiful architecture then slip into a café and just simply watch the world pass by. If you’re after an easy option, book in a guided tour for a few hours.
The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal is a gothic-inspired masterpiece rising above the city. Walk beneath its towering sculpted columns and discover its rich, intricate woodwork and ethereal stained glass.
Historic and quaint, amble along Saint-Paul Street and delve into the creative world of the local artists. The street is a haven for art galleries, artist studio’s and artisanal boutiques, making it the perfect place to stop off to buy hand dyed silk scarves or local paintings.
In the heart of Old Montreal is Place Jacques-Cartier, where laneways are lined with Victorian street lamps, fresh flower stalls, street artists, roving entertainers, face painters and wandering magicians. Drop into one of the local gourmet delis and pick up a fresh baguette, salted cheese curds and a cold sparkling water, and then find a bench seat to sit, eat and soak in the ambience.
Savour the city
I can’t think of Montreal without salivating – wine, rooftop bars, bakeries, maple syrup stalls, poutine, baguettes, and the chance to practice my terrible French. No visit to Montreal would be complete without a visit to La Banquise, widely accepted as “the place” for poutine. With more than 25 different menu options, it can get a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven’t had poutine before. I recommend starting off with the original, La Classique, which is a plate of fries, cheese curds & BBQ sauce.
A hot spot for brunch is definitely Le Cartet. Bursting with character and homemade goodness, it’s a fusion of a gourmet market and fine dining restaurant housed in a New York-style loft. The menu is simple yet fresh, featuring daily specials. I enjoy a simple breakfast with great coffee, so I tried the brunch santé and I have to say that it was simple yet divine. What’s more, you can take food to go, for the shelves are piled high with all sorts of epicurean delights.
Cycle the city
After woofing down a buttery croissant for breakfast on my second day I decided to cycle away the calories and explore the city by bike. Pedalling along the Lachine Canal, popular with local Montrealers, I stopped off at the Atwater Markets for artisan cheese, wine and maple syrup. Thankfully I was wearing my stretchy leggings, squeezing in coffee and pastry at the Première Moisson Bakery and Restaurant before jumping back on the bike.
If biking isn’t your flavour; walk, rent a canoe, paddle boat, or in winter even cross country ski along the 15km trail that winds alongside the Lachine Canal.
Fly: Air Canada flies twice a day to Montreal with a stopover in Vancouver
Stay: To embrace the ambiance of Montreal, stay in a boutique hotel in the older part of the city. A favourite with Expedia’s travellers is Le Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites. Most visitors stay 2-3 nights in the city, just enough time to adopt a relaxed sightseeing pace.
See: No trip would be complete without a night out to the Cirque Du Soleil and if you are planning a trip to Montreal in the summer time then try to arrange it to coincide with the Just For Laughs Festival.