Tag Archives: Montreal

to do in the city (montreal)

As I mentioned in my previous post, “Montreal Eats,” my recent visit to Montreal, back to a city that I had 3 and a half years completing my undergraduate degree, consisted of mainly eating and exploring. It was glorious. So now that I’ve posted about my favorite Montreal restaurants, I’m putting together a post of things to do in Montreal…

Old Montreal

One of my first adventures back in the city was a bike ride to Old Montreal. Oh I’ve blogged many times about the great Bixi system in Montreal (see posts here, here and here – ha, this one’s even a post about a previous biking adventure in Old Montreal, and yes, that cupcake place is Les Glaceurs, the one I mentioned in my “Montreal Eats” post!) My boyfriend and I grabbed a bike from the Bixi station just up the street from his apartment building, and biked to the Quartier Latin, all the way down St. Denis. This area surrounds UQAM, the Universite de Quebec a Montreal, a French university in the city, and you can find lots of restaurants and bars along St. Denis.

Quartier Latin.

We then made it to Old Montreal

Old Montreal.

Dow the cobbled streets that make the area so famous…

Old Montreal.

And eventually stopped at Les 3 Brasseurs for a beer on the patio…

If you are planning a trip to Montreal, I definitely recommend wandering the streets of Old Montreal to get a feel for the restaurants and boutiques and art galleries that line these quaint, cobbled streets, and to walk along the boardwalk at the Old Port (see previous post here) to watch rollerbladers, bikers and families stroll by on a sunny afternoon.

Parc Jeanne Mance

Another must-do in Montreal is a walk up to Parc Jeanne Mance in the Plateau, a popular recreational park and the site of sunbathers and frisbee players when the sun is out, followed by a walk up Mount Royal, the “mountain” in the middle of the city. The views from the top of the mountain are incredible (see previous post here) and I definitely recommend this walk for anyone visiting Montreal, no matter what time of the year – fall may by the best though!

Jeanne Mance Park.

Parc LaFontaine

Another park in Montreal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal district, Parc LaFontaine, features two linked ponds with a fountain and waterfalls. Perhaps the best part about this park is that there are bike paths that run along the park’s western and northern edges. It’s a beautiful/peaceful bike ride around the edges of the park, and I definitely recommend renting a Bixi bike (can you tell that we couldn’t get enough of Bixi?) for an afternoon. Oh and, the park is close to La Banquise, featured in my “Montreal Eats” post, the “best poutine in Montreal.”

Marche Jean-Talon

I mentioned Atwater Market in yesterday’s post, goodbyes & macaroons, and Marche Jean-Talon is another outdoor farmer’s market in Montreal. Again, a great day in Montreal spent biking up to Little Italy (we switched our Bixi bikes twice and got a little lost but made it eventually!), walking around the area, browsing the market and stopping for lunch. You can find plenty of fresh Quebecois produce here at the market, and I’m pretty sure prices are cheaper than in the local supermarkets. Definitely a great Montreal experience!

Jean Talon Market.

Jean Talon Market.

Little Italy

The area of Little Italy is very different to the Plateau-Mont-Royal area that I had come to know in university. I had always wanted to explore this area and go to the Jean-Talon Market (featured above) but never found the time. So I made it a priority to visit. We biked up there (it was a ways up, let me tell you!) and walked around Boulevard St. Laurent and Rue Dante, before stopping for lunch at Pizzeria Napoletana, mentioned in my previous post, “Montreal Eats.” If you have a few days to spend in Montreal, wandering through Little Italy is a great way to spend an afternoon! And if you decide to bike up there, be sure to print out a map or have a route planned out on your iPhone or Blackberry, it gets a little tricky the further up you go!

Little Italy.

Little Italy.

Old Montreal & Parc Jean-Drapeau

Probably one of my favorite adventures, and this one really was an adventure, was when my boyfriend and I decided to bike back down to Old Montreal, and after having spent a little while biking up and down the boardwalk of the Old Port, we decided to bike across to Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Old Montreal.

Old Montreal.

So we decided to bike across to Parc Jean-Drapeau. The park is actually an island, well two islands (Saint Helen’s Island and the Island of Notre-Dame – these islands were the site of the Expo 67 World’s Fair held in Montreal, as was Habitat 67). On the islands you will find the amusement park La Ronde, the Canadian Grand Prix track (oh and while biking, we were lead on a detour and we ended up on the track, no big deal), the Montreal Casino and the Biosphere (featured below), as well as music festivals held annually, like Osheaga and Piknic Electronik.

It ended up being pretty stressful… my boyfriend put together a map once we got back home, exhausted mind you, of our entire biking trip (featured below), and I wasn’t surprised when he told me that it was 23.8 kilometers, total!

Biking Adventure.

So A is where we started, in the McGill Ghetto, C and D are Parc LaFontaine (mentioned above, and yes, this whole biking adventure was done on a whim, we had NO idea of what we were going to do when we first took our Bixi bikes out at the first station, at point A), F is Old Montreal, where we decided to bike across to Parc Jean-Drapeau, and as you can see, points G-J are on the island, where the photographs shown below were taken…

Jeanne-Drapeau Park.

We were exhausted on our bike ride back across the island, we decided to go back the way we came even though we could have gone across the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, featured in the photograph above, and it would have been shorter. But it was hilarious, and we had a good laugh when we eventually got home. It was definitely an adventure. Update: if you do decide to bike to Parc Jean-Drapeau, I recommend taking a ferry across from the Old Port to the islands, and then biking around there (the ferry wasn’t running yet when we were there). Also, be warned, the Bixi bike traffic may not be as smooth as on the main island – we had serious trouble trying to get rid of our bikes once we were eventually at the Jean-Drapeau station. Just keep this in mind!

Palais des congrès

In continuation from the post above, we walked from the Old Port, after biking our little buts off from Parc Jean-Drapeau, to the Palais des congrès
(featured in a previous post here). I just love the colored windows, and the way the light shines through on the inside…

These pink trees are pretty interesting too…

Place des Arts

And lastly, before making it home, we stopped by the Place des Arts, the major performing arts center in Montreal (see previous post here). We sat on the steps, watching the fountains (and children playing in the fountains), indulging in DQ Blizzards. It was a wonderful end to an exciting, but exhausting, adventure.

St. Laurent, Plateau

Lastly, one of the major streets in Montreal (and one of my favorites) is Boulevard St. Laurent, lined with restaurants, shops and boutiques, bars and clubs. You’ll find many famous places here, including Schwartz’s Deli, the Montreal-favorite smoked meat, as well as plenty of restaurants I mentioned in my previous post, “Montreal Eats.”

St. Laurent

Boulevard St. Laurent is definitely the place to go if you’re looking for an authentic restaurant, a Montreal-experience, a grungy bar full of students, or a place to watch a live band, like Casa del Popolo, featured below.

Lastly, be sure to look through my previous Montreal posts for more advice/information/ideas about visiting or traveling to Montreal. Let me know if you have any questions!

to eat in the city (montreal)

I really couldn’t think of a better way to organize the rest of my Montreal posts (see previous here, here and here) than to split them up into “Montreal Eats” and “Montreal Dos” because honestly, that’s all I did… eat and explore and spend time with amazing friends, and it couldn’t have been any more perfect. Here’s a list I compiled of some of my favorite Montreal eats…

Lola Rosa, McGill Ghetto

One of the restaurants I was looking forward to the most was Lola Rosa, a little vegetarian restaurant in the heart of the McGill Ghetto, just steps away from the Roddick Gates of McGill University (see previous post about Lola Rosa here – yes, I used the same pictures, the last time I was there I was too excited about my salad that I forgot to take pictures!). It’s a deliciously quaint little place, with blackboard menus, friendly staff and distinctly student/relaxed vibe. I had been here a few times during my years in Montreal, and I couldn’t wait for the Lola Salad (the Lola Nachos are also incredible!)! Another fun little fact, the tables have little drawers filled with notes written by previous customers… it’s a really entertaining way to spend your evening. You’ll find Lola Rosa at 545 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X 1W5.

Lola Rosa.

Lola Rosa.

Yeh! Yoghurt, St. Laurent

Next on the list, Yeh! Yoghurt… I can’t rave about this place enough. I remember my first frozen yoghurt experiences in Jakarta, Indonesia – the Yogen Fruz in the Pondak Indah Mall. I hadn’t really had any since then, but Yeh! Yoghurt exceeded all my expectations of how great frozen yoghurt can really be. What’s great about this place versus other frozen yoghurt places (aka Snog in London and Pinkberry in New York City and L.A.) is that you can do everything yourself – you can serve yourself! You can choose flavors, a wide variety of toppings including candy, chocolate and fruit, load up your cup to your liking, then go to the cash and get it weighed and that’s how you’re charged. It’s brilliant! There are two Yeh! locations, the original is located at 3804 Boulevard St. Laurent, Montreal QC, H2W 1×6 and the other is located at 1651 St. Catherine West, Montreal QC, H3H 1L9.

Yeh! Yoghurt

Yeh! Yoghurt

La Banquise

When you search Montreal + poutine together on Google, it’s not surprising to find La Banquise as the first hit. It’s said to be the “best poutine in Montreal,” and I had to go find out for myself. Wait, for those who don’t know, poutine is a dish that originated in Quebec in the 1950s and is now a Montreal staple. The traditional dish consists of a heaping pile of freshly cut twice-cooked French fries, chunks of squeaky curd cheese all brought together by gravy. La Banquise, however, serves more than 20 different types of poutine (see the menu here) and even though I was tempted to try one of the crazy combinations, I decided to play it safe and stick with the original (featured below). I’m not a huge poutine fan (sorry Montreal!) but as far as poutine goes, it was pretty good. For anyone who wants a real Montreal experience, you have to stop by! La Banquise is located at 994 Rue Rachel West, Montreal QC, H2J 2J3 and is open 24/7!

La Banquise.

La Banquise.

Fairmount Bagel

Another legendary Montreal institution, Fairmount Bagel. The history of this bakery goes back to 1919 and was the first bagel bakery in Montreal (read more about the history here). What makes the Montreal bagel unique is that it is a hand-made and wood-fired baked bagel. And in contrast to the New York bagel, the Montreal bagel is smaller, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole – more delicious in my opinion! Fairmount Bagel competes with St. Viateur Bagel in Montreal for the title of Montreal’s best bagel – it’s up to you to decide which one is better! The Fairmount Bagel bakery can be found at 74 Fairmount West, Montreal QC, H2T 2M2.

Fairmount Bagel.

Fairmount Bagel.

Pizzeria Napoletana, Little Italy

One of the adventures I went on in Montreal was a bike ride up to Montreal’s Little Italy, home to Montreal’s Italian-Canadian community. One of the more famous restaurants in the area is Pizzeria Napoletana, located at 189 Rue Dante, Montreal QC, H2S 1K1. It is said to be, “the first traditional Italian pizza in the heart of Little Italy since 1948.” The restaurant has a real Italian family-run feel, but I was a little discouraged about the quality of the pizza. But if you’re looking for a pizza-experience that’s a little different than your average North American thick crust pizza, then I would give this a go. Oh, and it’s bring your own wine restaurant, which is always a plus!

Napoletana.

Napoletana.

Les Glaceurs, Old Montreal

Cupcakes, cupcakes and more cupcakes! Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Les Glaceurs in Old Montreal is the only cupcake join in Montreal that I know of, and it’s definitely a great location to visit if you’re in the area. Check out the list of different flavored cupcakes they sell (how’s your French!?), my favorite was the Red Velvet, a classic. For those with a sweet tooth, stop by for a cupcake and a coffee on a cold Montreal day… Les Glaceurs can be found at 453 Rue Saint-Sulpice, Montreal QC, H2Y 2VB.

Les Glaceurs.

Les Glaceurs.

Bagel Etc., St. Laurent

Breakfast and Montreal, a perfect combination. I can’t even tell you the number of restaurants I’ve been to for breakfast in Montreal. Coming from The Netherlands where honestly, the concept of going out for breakfast doesn’t even exist (or barely…) the excitement of going out for a delicious brunch (whether it be eggs & bacon or french toast or pancakes) never fails me. And it seems like there’s always a new place to try out – I really wonder if Montreal has the most breakfast places of any city in North America (I even found a blog called the Montreal Breakfast Review)! Great places in Montreal include Eggspectations (just alright), Le Vieux St. Laurent (you can have a full breakfast for CAD$5 and it’s good too – just make sure you speak French to the waiter, he gets a little frustrated when you don’t, oh Quebec…), L’Avenue (famous for its eggs benedict) and Beautys (one of my favorites, an old Jewish diner with so much character and great food, I definitely recommend the Challah French Toast!) I could go on and on about breakfast/brunch in Montreal, but I’ll finish with Bagel Etc., recognizable by the fuchsia-painted exterior and the eclectic/kitschy mix of Art Deco and 1950s memorabilia inside. They serve brunch and lunch, and their menu appeals to many different tastes and price ranges – the breakfast for CAD$4.99 is definitely a hit! Bagel Etc. can be found at 4320 St. Laurent, Montreal QC, H2W 1Z3.

Rockaberry, St. Denis

Can you think of the last time you went out for a slice of PIE? Yes, that’s right, PIE! Rockaberry is another great Montreal institution (it first opened its doors in 1989 and immediately opened 5 more restaurants in the Montreal-area… Montrealers couldn’t get enough!) I first visited the St. Denis location for my 19th birthday before heading home after my first year of university with a bunch of my girlfriends, and couldn’t get enough of my slice of Oreo cheesecake (here’s a list of all their pies!). This last time I visited, my boyfriend and I split a slice of apple crumble with a side of ice cream… wow it was delicious, absolutely delicious. And the patio on the busy St. Denis sidewalk is definitely a great place to people watch. Find Rockaberry at 4275 St. Denis, Montreal QC, H2J 2K9.

Carlos & Pepe’s, Downtown 

Looking for a cheap eat in downtown Montreal? It might be your average (slightly grungy) Mexican place, but Carlos & Pepe’s has great deal nights that keep you coming back for more – $1 tacos on Sunday and Monday nights, really? It’s not great, it’s not REALLY Mexican, but it definitely is a good time, especially with a group of great friends, a few margaritas or a pitcher of beer, and a hockey game playing in the background!  Carlos and Pepe’s can be found at 1420 Rue Peel, Montreal QC, H3A 1S8.

Carlos & Pepes.

Patati Patata, St. Laurent

A small (emphasis on small) little place on St. Laurent, Patati Patata is known for its poutine and customizable burgers. I wouldn’t recommend going during peak hours but when you’re there during off hours, you can find a seat by the window or take your meal to go and sit in the park across the way. A friend of mine recommended the Mediterranean Burger, served with feta and tzatziki, and it was delicious. Very personable, very unique and very “Plateau,” this little place is great if you want a real Montreal experience. Patati Patata can be found at 4177 Boulevard St. Laurent, Montreal QC, H2W 1Y7.

Patati Patata.

Patati Patata.

Amelio’s, McGill Ghetto

Last but not least, Amelio’s. Oh Amelio’s, you’ve been the site of so many good evenings – I have amazing memories of evenings spent drinking the cheapest white wine we could find at the Dep(anneur), aka corner store (it’s another bring your own wine), ripping off pieces of your deliciously crunchy garlic bread sprinkled with parmesan cheese, fresh out the oven, devouring your extremely messy but equally delicious slices of cheesy pizza (warning: cheese strings may result, perhaps not your ideal first-date resto)… It’s been a staple for me throughout my years in Montreal, and definitely a McGill Ghetto-experience. Oh Amelio’s, how I’ll miss you! Please visit this amazing pizza joint if you’re in Montreal, I’d love to hear what you think – 201 Rue Milton, Montreal QC, H2X 1V5.

Amelios.

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of Montreal restaurants, there are so many more great ones not featured here (other great places that I’ve written about include Cafe Santropol, Restaurant Marche 27 and Juliette et Chocolat, and others worth mentioning include Rotisserie Romados, Anton & James, Cash and Curry and Chez Jose). But I just wanted to give you a flavor of some of my favorite spots, and some of the locations I found during my last visit my Montreal. If you have any questions or want to know more about visiting Montreal, please contact me!

city trip: montreal (may ’11)

To continue with my Montreal posts (see previous here), I wanted to post a few of my favorite photographs of my recent visit. I had such a wonderful time and I think these photographs really capture that. Stay tuned for more Montreal posts!

Other city favorites include AntwerpBerlinFlorenceGhent, IstanbulLondonParis and Portland.