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.
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!
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.
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…”
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.
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.
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….
Above: A view from the Montreal City Hall (Hôtel de Ville de Montréal).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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… 🙂
The top of Mount Royal bears a cross that is visible from certain parts of the city.
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….
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!
There are so many more gorgeous areas to explore in Montreal.
For some great tips I recommend this site:
Until next time…