A WEEKEND IN MONTRÉAL
Parks, historic neighborhoods, museums, and restaurants—the appeal of Montréal lies in the feeling you’ve transported yourself directly to Europe. No matter how you end up spending your time in this quaint Canadian city, one thing is certain: you’re going to fall in love with it’s amazing food, cobblestone streets and the people.
If you’re like me, you’d do anything to not spend a weekend at home, especially for your birthday. Normally, I travel alone, but this time my bestie from college went to celebrate my birthday with me. We went to the city with one goal in mind; eat all of the food.
You can’t expect to cover the entire city in a weekend, but you can certainly hit the highlights and get in some good meals. Like any vacation, the best way to get a feel for a neighborhood is to walk around. So, put on your comfy shoes.
STROLL THROUGH OLD MONTRÉAL
Old Montréal is the face of the city and it’s no surprise. You’ll feel like you’re in walking through Europe while you precariously balance on cobblestone streets and are surrounded by beautiful architecture and cathedrals. Here you’ll find the Notre-Dame Basilica, built in the 1820s it’s known for its century-old Casavant Frères pipe organ, stained glass depicting Montreal’s religious history, and brilliant blue ceiling. You’ll also find the best little coffee shop, Mlle Catherine and souvenir shop Bonjour Montréal. It’s got the best vibe and some awesome locally crafted pieces that will let you bring a piece of Montréal home with you. Need to get some work done while you’re in town? Well, stop into the Crew Collective; a cathedral-style co-working space with comfortable seating and café menu.
EXPLORE THE MILE END
The Mile End used to be home to the city’s Italian and Jewish communities, but now this neighborhood is a hipster haven full of murals, graffiti, cool restaurants and shops of curated local goods. We stumbled onto some amazing shops on the main drag including the Baltic Club, which is full of some awesome art prints and stationary (which is a weakness for me!) We explored the murals at Musee Romeo, which are located in a very cool multi-use space in the stairwell. It seems bizarre at first, but it was free and in the area. We also ate lunch at Pastel Rita, which is now an obsession because of it’s design aesthetic and food. Be charmed by all of the colors combined with minimalist design. Order the avocado toast, you won’t be sorry.
TAKE PART IN THE GREAT BAGEL TASTE-OFF
In the Mile End neighborhood you’ll find two of the city’s best bagel bakeries. We participated in the great bagel taste-off between St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel Bakery. Unique to Montréal; their bagels are hand-rolled, wood-fire baked and contain honey. Pro Tip: These shops are open for 24 hours
VIEW MONTRÉAL FROM A TERASSÉ
Throughout Old Montréal you’ll find rooftop restaurants and bars called terassés. I will never ever pass up a rooftop. Ever. There is just something about being above the action and being able to take in a view that can’t be beat. My friend and I ended up at the Hotel William Gray Terassé and it was buzzing! The food was delicious and the view was even better providing a colorful portrait of Old Montréal complete with water views. Pro tip: Book a table ahead of time or be prepared to wait and this is only seasonally.
Some photos courtesy of Hotel William Gray.
LIVE THE LUXE LIFE
Pop into Bar Nacarat, which is located inside the Fairmount Hotel where the atmosphere is full on glam mixed with a 21st century aesthetic. You’ll be amazed by the artistry happening behind the bar, both in creativity of your drink and actual execution. It’s the perfect spot for a drink and a snack in a sensual and sophisticated vibe. Then head your way to St. Paul Hotel where it literally smells “rich” when you walk through the door. Enjoy a drink at Hambar and then head out to the lobby to hang on the plush chaise by the fire. Pro Tip: A lot of bars close by 10pm. Do your research and plan ahead of time so you don’t waste time walking to someplace that isn’t open.
Some photos courtesy of Bar Nacarat and The Hambar.
GET YOUR ART FIX
The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) was founded in 1860 and has since grown into one of the most visited museums in North America; the museum is divided into five buildings and sculpture garden making a large footprint in the Golden Square Mile neighborhood. You’ll find works from throughout the centuries including one of my favorite artists James Turrell. The exhibition by Thierry Mugler: Couturissime paired with Montreal Couture was on display during my visit and it’s not to be missed. On view until September 2, 2019. More info here.
LET THE FOOD GUIDE YOU
The reputation of Montréal’s food scene preceded itself and let me tell you it did not disappoint. We didn’t get to nearly enough of the spots we had saved on our list including the infamous Joe Beef (hence why another trip is in the works). Montréal’s restaurants care about how they look as much as how their food tastes. Some of the best spots we went to were Restaurant Pastel; Au Pied Cochon and Bouillon Bilk.
Pro Tip: Reservations are a must — be prepared to book a month ahead of time at the popular restaurants. Joe Beef also has a waitlist notification system, but be prepared to act fast if a table becomes available.
We certainly didn’t get to experience everything we wanted to on this trip, which means I am able to start an itinerary for the next trip! Whether you’re a lover of Europe, an architecture buff, a foodie or an art lover; Montréal has something for everyone and I urge you to get there soon!
Want to learn more about my trip to Montréal? Check out my other posts here.