Magnifique Montréal

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In September 2014 I was lucky to spend a weekend with me, myself & my camera in the magnificent city of Montréal located in the Canadian province of Quebec.

I had no agenda except to explore the city and its café’s – and take photos.

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Day 1:

After a short introduction to the city by the hotel’s concierge I headed towards an area that I felt was calling my name: the Latin Quarter. The Quartier Latin is an area in the Ville-Marie borough of Montreal. Amongst rows of houses with character and charm, peaceful streets greet you with a welcoming ‘bonjour’ or ‘hello’.  This city is bilingual!DSC_1502DSC_1510 DSC_1524DSC_1529DSC_1503DSC_1508DSC_1516

Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Quebec and Canada with 56% of the population able to speak both English and French. I would go so far to say this is one of the most bilingual cities in the world – it was fascinating to hear people conversing with each other, switching from French to English as it suited them.

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In addition to being bilingual the people in Montreal are known (in Canada) for following the fashion trends from NYC and Europe. As one of my Canadian friends put it:

In Vancouver we wear our lululemon’s [yoga pants].  In Montreal they actually get dressed up…

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Place Jacques-Cartier is a market square in the Old Montreal neighbourhood.  Here you find shops, restaurants and entertainment by musicians or street artists.  The Nelson Column – seen in the background – is the oldest public monument in Montreal and overlooks the square that is also the entrance to the Old Port of Montreal.

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Old Montreal is – as the name reveals – the oldest area of Montreal.  Parts of this neighbourhood date back to the 17th century making it one of the oldest urban areas in North America. Rue St-Paul is cultural center of Old Montreal, with numerous art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques in charming stone-faced buildings.

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I will admit I did not know Montreal was located on an island.  But it is!  And as a result, the city has a harbour that stretches for over two kilometres along the St-Lawrence River in Old Montreal.  It was used as early as 1611, when French fur traders used it as a trading post.  Today there is a science centre here, an IMAX theatre and riverfront access for cycling, walking and roller blading….

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Above:  A view from the Montreal City Hall (Hôtel de Ville de Montréal).

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Notre-Dame Basilica was built in 1656 and has an incredible interior unlike any other church I have seen before.  The beautiful stained glass windows recount Montreal’s history. This was a perfect spot to sit down and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere before I continued exploring the city.

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The most challenging part of being a tourist in a new city is finding a good place to eat that meets your cravings and mood.

As it was just me & my camera the restaurant Jardin Nelson with its live jazz band and tasty food was a perfect match for both my taste buds and wish for entertainment.

As I go by the principle “When in Rome – do as the Romans…” I had the “Homemade Duck “Paté chinois” which according to the menu was “a traditional Quebec dish, reinvented“.  It was delicious!

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 Day 2:

Although my trusted hotel concierge advised me not to explore the Rue Ste Catherine between Rue Saint-Urbain and Rue Saint-Denis (he said it was “not good“) he ensured me it was not dangerous during day light hours.  I was tempted to see what was “not good” about this area of town.

It turned out, this neighbourhood has some interesting shops that most likely have – or should have – an age limit to enter; bars and pubs – that also most definitely have an age limit to enter – and some fabulous graffiti that acted as a great back drops for my camera.

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DSC_1596 There was a news story about the Cat Cafe (Le Cafe des Chats)  while I was in Montreal.  This is – apparently – the first, and until recently, the only cat cafe in Montreal (or perhaps the world?).

Cat owners can bring their cats to the cafe – the cats play & run around freely – while their proud owners drink their latte’s.

A second cat cafe – Café Chat L’Heureux – recently opened in Montreal, which was the topic of the news story….  Same idea.  Cats & latte’s.

I guess people really love their cats in Montreal.

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After brunch at the cozy L’Evidence on Rue Saint-Denis I stumbled upon a protest (below).  I felt this was very appropriate since I was in Quebec.  They seem to protest various government decisions a lot more than the average Canadian.

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Rue Saint-Denis is a street that goes from north to south passing through both the Latin Quarter and the Mont-Royal neighbourhood.  It was definitely one of my favorite streets.

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I was fascinated by the architecture in Montreal and loved the colours used to paint – and separate – residences.

One needs a sturdy hand when painting these houses!

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I would do more than just tie up the curtains to identify where my door is if I lived here.  Coming home after a night out must be a challenge!

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I headed towards Avenue Mont-Royal, a street filled with cute stores, restaurants, cafe’s and buildings that made me feel I had entered New Orleans (I have never been…but it is what I imagine it feels like..)

I found some residential areas in the side streets to Avenue Mont-Royal (Rue de Bienville and Rue Saint Andre).  I decided this is where I will live if life ever takes me to Montreal.  Beautiful and so charming!

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Back on Avenue Mont-Royal, I passed the very hip & jiggy brunch spot l’Avenue du Platau.  It was time for a break so I found a nice bakery down the street without a line up… 🙂

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Originally called Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary”, Montreal is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city.

The top of Mount Royal bears a cross that is visible from certain parts of the city.

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Dinner this evening was the Canadian dish that originates in Quebec: Poutine.  It is basically french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds.  I was so completely amazed by this deliciousness, that I forgot to take a picture of it.  I also had a salad to make me feel better about the fact that I had french fries, gravy and cheese curds for dinner….

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Day 3:

My third day in Montreal was a wet and gloomy day so not the best for photos – or walking long distances.  I went back to some of my favorite areas, Avenue Mont-Royal and Avenue Henri-Julien – and took some photos along the way.  I liked the painted grafitti walls!

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There are so many more gorgeous areas to explore in Montreal.

For some great tips I recommend this site:

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Guide-g155032-k220-Montreal_Quebec.html

Until next time…

Au revoir!

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One thought on “Magnifique Montréal

  1. Pingback: #Top7: Things to do in the Old Port – Sweet-n-style

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