On our way to Mexico we had a stopover in Montreal so we decided to stay a couple days to experience the city. Me (Floriane) already knew the city as I spent a few months making an internship back in 2013. I was super excited to go back to Montreal, to see my friends Maria and Didier and their family and to show everything to Basilio. I had forgotten how much in love I was with the city, a few steps on its streets and I was so happy full of good memories.
I love the fact that is a cosmopolitan city, I love the museums and the urbanism, I love the architecture and the parks. We found a lot of nice coffee shops and restaurants. It is a mix between New York and Paris. It is a city where I would definitely live again. There are not enough superlatives to describe it. Montreal is in my Top 3 of the best cities of the world. Let us show you why.
What To do in Montreal ?
It is a city famous for all its cute and amazing neighbourhoods, hang around them walking or biking. Check the exhibitions in the museums or the art festival to see what is interesting at the moment when you are visiting there. We are gonna talk about few places that you must visit.
Day 1 : Downtown, The Old Montreal, and Chinatown
When you are exploring Downtown (around the subway stations of Bonaventure / Gare Centrale / Peel) you get the taste of being in New York, between high buildings and modernity. You find here few museums, go to have a look on the Place des Arts. Just down few blocks from there you will find Chinatown, for an exotic experience as in all the Chinatowns of the world.
What caught our attention is the contrast between Downtown and the Old Montreal, its industrial architecture and the paved streets. You can see lots of old school advertisement painted on the walls, see the traditional souvenirs shops and visit the Notre-Dame Basilic. The best part is behind the Basilic, on the harbor where you can hang around the wharfs.
Day 2 : The Plateau, The Mile-End and the Parc Mont-Royal
You can start at the middle of the neighborhood, subway station Mont Royal and hang around the Plateau, an amazing and alive area, little shops, coffees, restaurant, bars. You will see a lot of street art and hipster venues. Explore the little streets and admire the beautiful buildings. Saint Laurent boulevard is a main street, you can take it to go in the Mile-End, like a little village inside Montreal. Here as well, you will find lots of nice places.
At the end of the day, we advise you to go up the Mont-Royal.
There are two main access points, walking from Downtown (subway Station Peel), go up Peel street then take the stairs to the viewpoint and enjoy the skyline under the sunset shades.
Another access is to take the bus 11 on Mont Royal Avenue and go down at the Remembrance stop. From here walk following the way to the view point. We went up walking from Downtown and took the bus to go down and finished the evening drinking in a bar of the Plateau.
If you have more time
There are other cool neighbourhoods that you can explore, Little Italy and the Market Jean-Talon come first to my mind, or Little Bourgogne, a trendy neighbourhood with a nice mood. You can Start the visit from the market Atwater and hang around along the Canal Lachine. Next to Habitat 67 an atypical building (for architecture fans) you have an eternal wave and you can surf. Yes, you can surf in Montréal ! We did not see it but definitely it is something we have to do next time ! You can keep with Saint Hélène Island to see the Biosphère, have a wonderful view of the skyline and the bridge Jacques-Cartier.
Montreal Practical Tips
Everything is bilingual so you can speak english and french. They use the canadian dollars (1€= 1,5 CAD / 1$ = 1,3 CAD) . It is a really safe city with lot of respect and civism which is really appreciable.
How to move around Montreal ?
You can use the subway or the bus. It exists some days pass. You can as well bike, by renting a bixi.
When to organize a trip ?
In winter it gets really cold, there is snow everywhere and you can ice skate on some lakes.
In spring, you can go spend a day in “les Cabanes à sucres” typically from Québec to eat all around the maple syrup. Spring comes quick and it is really impressive to see that in a week all the flowers and green of the plants pop out.
In summer, it is warm and there is lots of festivals everywhere, you can enjoy a drink at a terrace during the long evening.
In fall the colors of the trees are wonderful.
Where to sleep ?
We have friends in Montreal and stayed at their place, so we can’t really recommend you a specific place for your accommodation but in this kind of city we like to rent a room on AirBnb, the best for us will be to sleep in the Plateau or the Mile-End.
Where to have a coffee ?
Our crush of all the coffees in all the cities we have visited in the world is: La Distributrice.
Where to eat / have a drink ?
Montreal has so many addresses to discover and to try.
Where to do shopping ?
You want to buy everything in Montreal, The Plateau and The Mile-End have lots of little concept stores or shops. And the famous shopping street is Sainte-Catherine with all the famous brands.
What to buy in Montreal ?
Some maple syrup for sure ! And some candy with maple syrup.
You can as well fin a really good selection of trendy local designer and international minimalism brand. You can bring back some super cool magazines as well.