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Montreal?

Steve R.

100+ Posts
Here's an easy one, since I think that some of you live in the area. We're driving from NYC and have rented an apartment in Montreal for the month of May. Although we almost went back to Paris or Rome or Florence or Provence or... well, you know... I was embarrassed that I've never been to Canada. Really. Never. Except when I was in college and went to see Niagara Falls from the USA side then went across the border for maybe 2 hours. And, given my state of mind, I don't remember any details anyway. Its time to remedy this and visit our friendly neighbor to the North.

So... I've done due diligence on food boards, TripAdvisor and with friends but figure you all will have some great, interesting ideas for things to see in and around the city. We already have plans for a 4 day weekend in QC, so ideas for there are welcome as well. Nice neighborhood restaurants would be appreciated as well for both cities and the surrounding neighborhoods. As I said, we're driving (yes, our rental has a garage space and we'll spend most of our time walking and Metro'ing). Thanks.
 

Cameron

500+ Posts
Like you, I've never been to Canada. I've gone to Paris for the last 13 years! I'm also looking at Montreal and Quebec City. From North Carolina, there's a two-hour direct flight!

I don't know yet if I can squeeze it in this summer, but I'm doing my research, too. I'm going to follow your post to see what's said.

My other Slow Travel friends have told me to make sure I go to Quebec City, a three-hour train from Montreal.
 

Steve R.

100+ Posts
I think that, if the apartment we rented this past May in the 11th was available this May, we would’ve gone back to Paris. But spending the month in Montreal (& a little in Quebec City) will keep our French somewhat in practice & give us a whole new area to explore. Let’s both hope that some recommendations are forthcoming.
 

Mark

100+ Posts
We were there for 5 nights a few years back. Hear are some of the things we did
Harbor Cruise
St. Patrick's Basilica
Christ Church Cathedral
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Chalet Du Mont-Royal
St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal
Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel
Not sure if we we went to all of the churches they were on my itinerary though
Old town of course
Restaraunts we enjoyed
Auberge St Gabriel
Europea
 

Steve R.

100+ Posts
Thanks Mark - much appreciated. Although several of the places you mention were already on my list, you've given me others that I did not know about. That's great.
 

Christian

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Montréal is my hometown and it's really a great city! I may be biased, but hey. It a big North-American city, but has a different "feel", somewhat more European. You'll see. If you have questions, let me know, but for now, I will copy/paste restaurant suggestions I gave a colleague recently for his first visit in Montréal:

OK, for breakfast, I strongly recommend one of these:
  • L’Avenue, at 922 Mont-Royal Ave. East. Usually a line up, but that’s a good sign!
  • Beauty’s, at 93 Mont-Royal Ave. West. – an institution.
  • La Petite Marche, at 5035 St-Denis Street – amazing brunch for $15 which comes with fresh fruits and a side mushrooms sautéed in red wine!
Those are pretty well all in the same area. It’s my neighborhood, so that’s why I’m sending you there!

Smoked Meat: Schwartz’s (3895 Saint-Laurent Blvd.). It’s not world-renowned for nothing. There is nothing like it. Period. And don’t go to the other places (like Ben’s). It’s just not the same. That area is also pretty good for restaurants (Portuguese and Spanish). Greek restaurants are on Duluth and Prince-Arthur Street. The best one in my opinion is Le Jardin de Panos at 521 Duluth Street, and it’s BYOB!

Right now, the restaurant scene is really hot in the part of Montreal called Griffintown and the nearby Petite-Bourgogne neighborhood. I would recommend the great Marché Atwater as a starting point, then walk along Notre-Dame Street, which is full of restaurants, some famous, such as Joe Beef, le Boucan Smokehouse or Liverpool House. There is great list of restaurants from that neighborhood here: https://www.restomontreal.ca/s/?restaurants=Griffintown+Montreal&d=145&lang=en

I’ve heard a lot of good about Les Enfants Terribles but I haven’t been yet. It’s at the top of Place Ville-Marie, so you get a view of the city as well. The menu looks pretty good too: https://www.jesuisunenfantterrible.com/en/

Another institution is L’Express, at 3927 St-Denis Street. It’s very French! If you’ve been to Paris, it really feels like a Parisian bistro! Great steak-frites!

I always try to hit one of the great restaurants on Laurier Street West (a few block between Saint-Laurent Blvd. and Parc Ave.). Great brunch at Toi & Moi Café, amazing dinners at Lemeac or Chez Lévêque (been there many times for their incredible Christmas brunch!).

I would avoid Old Montreal for food, because it’s usually overpriced, but it might have changed – I haven’t been there in ages. It’s still worth going just to see Old-Montreal, because it’s really beautiful (you MUST go inside Notre-Dame Basilica!). Note that there is a LOT of construction in Montréal right now. There is a huge transit project that is affecting the area around Ste. Catherine and McGill College and it will be a mess for a few years, unfortunately. The good news is that once completed,, the street will be mostly traffic free and completely redesigned. A new Time Out Market (sort of like a food hall) has recently opened in that area, but I haven't checked it out yet.

I hope I was able to help! :)
 

Steve R.

100+ Posts
Christian: thank you very much. That was very helpful & exactly the kind of response I was hoping for. Several of the places you mentioned, like Lemeac, have also been highly recommended by friends whom I trust & you've just re-confirmed that I should make sure we eat there. And, of course, Schwartz's, L'Express & Joe Beef are all high on our list as well, as are the markets. Others you recommend, like Le Jardin de Panos will now be added. I did not know about www.restomontreal.ca and have now included it on the list of links like eater.com, timeout.com, resy.com and several food boards' Montreal pages. I'm guessing that we'll eat well.
As we will have a car, are there any sites/sights out of the city or in adjacent areas that we should go to? I think we've found an interesting looking abbey and maybe a winery that we'll try to visit during the month, but we'll hopefully have time for exploring further so ideas would be welcome. Additionally, we're bringing our tennis stuff so, if by any chance you know of places that will welcome us, please let me know.
Again, thanks.
 

Christian

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
I don't play tennis, but I know of two parks that have courts: Park Lafontaine in the "Plateau" and Park Jeanne-Mance at the foot of Mount Royal. They charge $13 an hour and reservtions can only be made by phone (Lafontaine: 514 872-3626 and Jeanne-Mance: 514-872-5520).

You say you rented an apartment for the month of May. Is it for the entire month? Where will you be located? If so, I would definitely suggest you go to Quebec City for an overnight!! Not too far from Montréal would be Mont Tremblant (Saint-Sauveur). It's quite nice!
Montréal's subway system (or métro) is great. It's entirely underground, crosses both shores (Montréal is an island) and is beautiful and clean (and supposed to be the only one in the world that runs on tires!).
 

Steve R.

100+ Posts
Thanks again. We’ve rented in the high rise building next to the Bell Center & will be there the entire month. During th month, we plan to go to QC for a four day weekend. As with NYC, we plan to leave our car in the provided garage space and walk, metro & taxi our way around when exploring & eating in the city. Thanks for the tennis info.
 

Steve R.

100+ Posts
Well, obviously, our May stay in Montreal is off. Hopefully, the situation will allow us to try again, maybe in August - we'll see. To their credit, our apartment rental waived their cancellation requirements and authorized airbnb to issue a full refund. We'll remember that when booking in the future. Since we were intending to drive, no other refunds were needed. I felt guilty cancelling restaurant reservations; although they're all closed right now, I know that they'll be hurting for business if/when they re-open. Oh well.
 

Steve R.

100+ Posts
Obviously, that didn't happen. But, since we are optimists and don't give up easily, we've now booked for this May. Same building, different apartment. So, here we go again. I've kept all the info. & recommendations that folks on this board and elsewhere have given me, but if there's anything new and interesting anyone would like to add, please feel free. Thanks.
 

Steve R.

100+ Posts
Well, in 2 days we’ll be packing up our stuff here in Montreal & driving back home to NYC after being away for 5 weeks. We spent 3 great nights in Quebec City at the end of April & then drove down to Montreal for our May apartment rental. QC was very French, in some ways like a miniature Paris, in others a very distinct culture. We loved it. I’m not sure what I expected from Montreal, but I have to say that we’ve found it to be one of the really good food cities we’ve been to (and we’ve been around a bit). We’ve also found a metropolis undergoing more high rise construction than any city we’ve ever seen & a city that has all the features & attractions of a major urban center. In fact, most of the city reminds me of Brooklyn and we’ve been very comfortable, even in the midst of 46 floor condos overlooking cranes in the midst of building additional condos. If anyone is interested in details, please feel free to contact me or ask here. I am a long time food board participant and, although we did not get to half the good places recommended, we got to enough that a diet is clearly needed. And, having no tennis to keep us occupied, we have been hyperactive in our explorations of the city & have been to sites, sights, cultural centers (the Archeology Museum is especially great, as is Montreal’s Botanical Gardens), churches (including a Notre Dame Cathedral evening light show) & even a mural tour.
I just wanted to take some time to thank Colette & Christian for their major advice and recommendations. Although Christian has not been in Montreal this month, his descriptions of places to go, things to eat & sights to see has made us feel like he’s right there as tour guide. I hope his upcoming trip to France is as good (or maybe even better) then our time here in Montreal. We were lucky enough to have lunch with Colette and her husband & to thank them in person for all the help she and her daughter provided with their insights and recommendations in their home turf. It was much appreciated and great to meet another Slow Europe poster. Wishing them the best in their future travel as well.
Well, enough said.
 

Christian

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Thank you for the kind words, my friend! I am really happy you enjoyed your time in my hometown. As I mentioned, there is a LOT of construction in Montréal right, to the point that it's ridiculous and locals are really affected and angry about the situation. I think the problem is that too many projects seem to be happening at the same time! But once it's all over, the downtown core will look great, especially with the wide sidewalks on Ste-Catherine Street.
Sound like the Montreal food scene is still hot and that makes me happy! I always look forward to going back and discovering new places. Hopefully, we can meet and have dinner next time you visit! After all, NYC isn't too far from MTL!

Oh and I shall have a quenelle or two in Lyon for you in three weeks! :)
 

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