montreal city guide

by Michelle Valtas

 

 image by andrew welch

image by andrew welch

 
 

Flying from Canada

to anywhere is surprisingly costly, so when I have an urge to travel to somewhere vastly different, but don’t have the time or budget, I go to Montreal. The french language, centuries-old architecture, traditional bistros, and cobble streets produce a certain je ne sais quoi that make you believe you’re not in North America anymore.

But don’t get the wrong idea. Montreal is not a fossilized relic. Montrealers are in love with festivals, music, the arts, globally inspired food, and living well. Montreal is a culture of indulgence, innovation, and sophistication. Montreal artfully combines Old World charms with New World vibrancy to create an unforgettable experience.

Montreal is an island city made up of many neighbourhoods. Of those, the ones most notable ones Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal), Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Mile End, Centre-ville (downtown), Petite Italie (little Italty) and Griffintown.

 

 image by hotel gault

image by hotel gault

STAY:

If it’s your first time in Montreal I suggest you stay in Old Montreal so you’re close to Montreal’s main attractions. Even better, try to stay north of Victoria Square, there you’ll find yourself on the border of downtown and Old Montreal. Here, you’re still within walking distance of the main attractions but also close to the metro and easy access to the other neighbourhoods. In Montreal, I prefer to stay in an airbnb. Thanks to Montrealer’s love of culture, arts and design there are some amazing airbnbs to stay in for considerably cheap. Otherwise, my favourite hotels are:

Les Suites Saint Francois Xavier

Hotel St Paul

Le Petit Hotel

Hotel Gault

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DINE:

Montreal is an international sensation when it comes to food. Consistently ranked among the world’s best places for foodies, it's hard to go wrong when dining out in Montreal. Within Montreal, head to Griffintown to find some of the city’s best eats. This neighbourhood is rapidly changing from an industrial area to the city’s newest hip locale for young professionals and empty nesters. With so many great options, you may have a hard time choosing between where looks best. To help narrow your decision, try one of these great spots:

Nini Meatball House

Toqué!

Joe Beef

Olive et Gourmando

Le Local

Foxy

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PLAY:

As the cultural capital of Canada, Montreal is bursting at the seams with things to do and see. If it’s your first visit to Montreal be sure to take time to mosey around Old Montreal, stopping in at the Basilique Notre-Dame, and then along the St. Lawrence River to the Old Port and Jacques Cartier Place. For a panoramic view over Montreal, hike to the top of Mont-Royal at sunrise beat the tourists, and enjoy the view with the local runners and cyclists. From there stroll through Le Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood to take in the classic wrought-iron staircases and balconies on each colourful townhouse, and murals of iconic French-Canadians. If you’re feeling particularly artsy or hipster then continue on to the Mile End neighbourhood. Technically part of Le Plateau Mont-Royal, this eclectic neighbourhood is home to the largest concentration of artists in Canada. True to its artistic nature, Mile End also happens to be my favourite area for shopping. While you’re there visit V de V, Frank and Oak, Général 54, Atelier B and Boucle & Papier. Lastly, hop on the metro to Little Italy and head to Jean-Talon Market. With so many varieties of fresh and local food you’ll realize it’s no wonder why Montreal is a food haven.