[above : view from my penthouse suite over Vieux Montreal] I visited Canada’s 2nd largest + most “European” city last weekend. Montreal is, in my opinion, also Canada’s sexiest city. Yep I said it and I wholeheartedly agree with the common perception. And yes it happens to be true (so sorry T.O. and Van). If it wasn’t for their infamous winters I would be calling the moving van right now.
What’s to like? The locals are pretty laid back, the girls are bi-lingual, friendly (not fake) and they know how to dress (and don’t smoke as much as they used to) AND simply put there is some pretty damn fine food and drink (and shopping, culture and fun) to be had. That’s not to say that everything is a winner here, just like everywhere else do your homework and remember that hype can get to Montrealers heads just like everywhere else (I had 2 really bad meals in MTL at places that everyone “raved” about AND I got 2 burnt crepes - the shame!)
MY MONTREAL LIST
super easy to get to, especially from Toronto. And there are constant sales between all the airlines that fly this busy route. Train is also a viable option (if you book one of the express trains that is).
http://www.aircanada.com/ is based here, so obviously the most flights from Canada, USA, Europe and the Caribbean.
http://www.westjet.com/ is a small player here but has some flights from Toronto, Calgary and some USA/Caribbean.
https://www.flyporter.com/ convenient flights from Toronto Island Airport and Halifax.
http://www.viarail.ca/en/main has frequent sales and last minute deals.
Hotel Gault: http://www.hotelgault.com/en/ offers really great design with really great service. Small so book early.
St. Paul Hotel: http://www.hotelstpaul.com/en/ is a senior on the local boutique hotel scene, but still a winner. Great service. I love the building (built in 1900) - it has great bones and the interiors have held up quite nicely I must say.
Bouilon Bilk: http://www.bouillonbilk.com/ doesn’t get as much press as other restaurants, however this hidden little guy is worth it.
Boulangerie Guillaume: http://boulangerieguillaume.com/ awesome selection of artisan breads.
Drogheria Fine: http://www.drogheriafine.com/ They do only 1 single thing here and do it really well. Just try to resist Grandma’s Tomato sauce here. I left with 5 jars for the road.
Jean Talon Market: http://www.marchespublics-mtl.com/English/Jean-Talon/ is my favourite of all of Montreal’s markets in terms of offerings and pricing. The cheese offerings alone…
Kitchenette: http://www.kitchenetterestaurant.ca/ didn’t get a chance to go this time, but friends assured me its as good as I remember. Make room for dessert!
La Distributrice: http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Distributrice/267840466600559 blink and you’ll miss it espresso take out window in the Plateau.
Le Depanneur le Pick Up: http://depanneurlepickup.com/ fun!
Le Filet: http://www.lefilet.ca/index-en.html not cheap, but this place does seafood very, very well.
Olive et Gourmando: http://www.oliveetgourmando.com/ where everyone in Old Montreal goes for breakfast/brunch but its soo good, just go early.
Pikolo Espresso Bar: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pikolo-Espresso-BAR/182705645116738 MTL still has a far way to go in their offerings of new wave and frankly decent espresso. Out of the 10+ spots I visited, Pikolo is the best. It’s also the most “west coast hipster” - you are warned.
Prague Cafe: http://cafeprague.ca/ gets the ambiance and the little czech open faced sandwiches (Chlebíčky) right. skip the coffee thou.
SoupeSoup: http://www.soupesoup.com/ a little local mini-chain of soup (delicious and hearty) restaurants that really hit the spot on a chilly mid-afternoon.
Sur Bleury: http://www.surbleury.com/ simple, lunch only restaurant.
Bota Bota: http://www.botabota.ca/ a spa on the water is unique and is very worthwhile for the views and design alone. The 2-3 hour water circuit is all you need after a long day of walking. (tip: they run an “early bird” special on most days).
Drawn & Quarterly: http://drawnandquarterly.com/ a really cool bookshop.
Edition de Robes: http://editionsderobes.com/ local designer for the ladies.
Fonderie Darling: http://www.fonderiedarling.org/encourager_e/index.html contemporary art/culture complex.
Les Montures: http://lesmontures.com/ vintage eyewear.
Nicola Travaglini: http://nicolatravaglini.com/en/ there are tons of gourmet shops in Montreal this Italian focused one is one of my favs - plus it smells so good inside.
Savoie Fils: http://www.savoiefils.com/ is a new, tightly curated menswear boutique. I could and would totally max out my card here.
Style Labo: http://www.stylelabo-deco.com/ a great and always changing collection of reclaimed and other design goodies.
A FEW TIPS
Anytime is good time to visit with the exception of winter (Nov-Mar), Montreal weather is legendary. It’s Bad. By the time Spring rolls around everyone is a little batty and ready to throw their clothes off. Spring is the start of party/event season and it goes on into the end of summer. Montreal is also renown for all their festivals and parties and everyone knows that Montrealers know how to party.
Getting around is super easy. Old Montreal is easily walkable and all the other places you want to go (Plateau, Mile End, Outremont) are on the Metro ($3 single fare) line. http://www.stm.info/english/metro/a-mapmet.htm
some links to help plan;
http://www.midnightpoutine.ca/ a Montreal version of BlogTo basically.
http://montrealforinsiders.blogspot.ca/ an overall good guide to eating in Montreal.
http://www.alamodemontreal.com/ fashion and stuff, (en francais).
http://www.urbanexpressions.ca/ another fashion blog/guide this time in english.
despite the snow, Nuit Blanche Montreal (called “en lumiere”) takes place in February for some reason. I guess as a big F*** you to the weather? In any case: http://www.montrealenlumiere.com/home.aspx
via splintersandmilkshakes, montreal-photos, glitter and guns, voyage et l’aventure et moi*