After three months spent living in the Canadian metropolis of Montreal, Jürgen and I came away with some unforgettable memories. We’ve now collected our experiences into an e-book, with all of our articles and over 200 full-color photographs.
Another 91 days have come to an end, and this time we bid adieu to Montreal. The cultural capital and financial powerhouse of French-speaking Canada proved to be an interesting home for three months, with some great food, incredible festivals, bad weather, colorful neighborhoods, and welcoming people.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival invites over 3000 musicians together from dozens of countries, for well over a thousand performances, most of which are free. We wouldn’t have the chance to see much of the festival, as it began during our final night in Montreal. But we did get a taste.
The most difficult part of our travel project is the search for a suitable temporary home. 91 days is a strange amount of time, neither short- nor long-term, and it’s always scary to book an apartment in a city we’ve never visited. So, when we luck out with a place as nice as our home in Montreal, we feel like we should share.
Montreal has a man-made underground city, through which millions of people pass every day. But there’s also a place you can see a more natural underground setting. In the northern neighborhood of Saint Leonard is a set of small caves which long ago opened up in the earth.
Every city needs a ridiculous roadside attraction, and Montreal’s is the Big Orange of Gibeau Orange Julep. Found on the side of the Décarie highway near the metro station Namur, this three-story orange sphere is impossible to overlook. We decided to stop by and see if its famous julep was any good.
The 1960s were an exciting decade in Montreal. The Quiet Revolution was underway, secularizing government and returning power to the city’s francophone majority. Huge skyscrapers were being erected in downtown, including the Place Ville-Marie which was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth. The World Expo was coming to town. And in 1966, the city inaugurated its underground mass transit project, the Métro de Montréal.
In the future, when we look back on our favorite culinary experiences in Montreal, we’re not going to be thinking about the city’s bistros or pastisseries. We won’t even be remembering poutine all that fondly. No, we’ll be thinking about the restaurants of Chinatown, where we ate constantly and never once had a bad meal.
One of finest colonial-era houses in Montreal is the Maison Saint-Gabriel, found in the neighborhood of Pointe Saint-Charles. Purchased in 1662 by Marguerite Bourgeoys for her congregation of nuns, this farmhouse allowed the sisters to be self-sufficient, and provided a place where they could educate community children. In 1966, the house opened its doors as a historic site.
We figured that Quebec’s food scene would be strongly rooted in the fine culinary traditions of France. And to a point, it is. You can certainly find French-style bistros and boulangeries in Montreal, as well as market stalls offering a selection of pates and cheeses. But the dish for which Quebec is most known definitely does not hail from France. No, this is a New World invention, through-and-through. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet poutine.