Montreal Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

Bonne Journée, Montreal!

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

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.

Montreal Sunset

Montreal was the sixteenth location we’ve visited over the course of our travel project. By this point, we’d recognized a dependable pattern in our feelings towards our temporary homes. Usually, we fall in love immediately, overwhelmed by the novelty of our new location and blind to any of its faults. But as the 91 days wear on, our emotions will begin to cool. In Montreal, however, the opposite occurred. This is the only city we’ve ever visited, that we enjoyed more in our last week than in our first.

It’s because we arrived in April, during one of the worst Montreal springs that anyone could remember. Freezing temperatures, sleety snow and unrelenting gray skies were constant companions for our first few weeks. We were able to go to museums, and that was fine, but it was too cold to spend time outside, and we weren’t able to get a true feeling for the city. After our first month, we felt no love whatsoever for Montreal. How could we? We hadn’t really even met it yet.

Our feelings began to change as we entered summer. The sun emerged for longer periods, the people came out into the streets, and festival season began. All of a sudden, there was an abundance of exciting things to do and, as June blazed by, we started to panic. It’s nice out today, so should we explore the neighborhood of Saint Henri, go to the Fringe Festival, get lunch down at the Old Port, or spend the evening under the pink balls of Le Village? Actually, we had better do all of these things, because we’ve only got a couple weeks left! As our departure date sped toward us, we were just starting to discover what makes Montreal so special.

We don’t often walk away from a place with such an equal balance of positive and negative memories. With better planning on our part, Montreal might have been one of favorite cities ever; with worse planning, we might have hated it unreservedly. So perhaps the mixed emotions with which we concluded our journey are appropriate.

We took our leave of Montreal just as the city was hitting its stride. There were still a lot of neighborhoods we hadn’t seen, a lot of festivals we’d have liked to attend, and a lot of day trips we might have enjoyed. So I’m sure that we’ll be back someday… but only in the summer!

Download our travel books!

, , , , ,
July 19, 2016 at 4:27 pm Comments (5)

The Montreal International Jazz Festival

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

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.

Montreal Jass Festival

The Montreal Jazz Festival was first celebrated in 1980, and has since grown into the world’s largest, certified as such by the Guinness Book of World Records, in 2006. But looking at the lineup, you’ll notice right away that it’s not all jazz. In fact, the invited bands and musicians represent a wide range of genres, including rock, soul, hip-hop and folk.

My heart raced as I looked through the program, which featured acts like Brian Wilson, Danny Brown, Jamie Cullem, Lauryn Hill, Noel Gallagher, Peter Bjorn & John, Rufus Wainwright, The Tallest Man on Earth and Wynton Marsalis. I’d have liked to see all of these! But since we were leaving the city on the festival’s second day, the only act we were able to catch was Cat Power, who was playing a solo show at the Metropolis.

Out of all Montreal’s summertime festivals (and there are tons), the Jazz Festival is the undisputed king. It’s centered around the Place des Arts, where you can enter for free and check out performances by lesser-known artists throughout the day. This is in the heart of the city, and traffic is completely cut off for the duration of the festival, which draws millions of music-lovers.

Every single time we told a Montrealer that we’d be leaving at the end of June, we heard some variation on the same theme: “Are you stupid?!” We’d be missing July, widely agreed upon to be the best month in the city. And that meant we’d be missing the Jazz Festival. It was a little frustrating to be reminded of this fact over and over again, but we didn’t really have a choice. I’m happy that we experienced a bit of the festivities… and we can always return. I have a feeling the Jazz Festival will be around for a long time to come.

Location on our Map: Metropolis | Place des Arts
Montreal International Jazz Festival: Website

Independent Movie Recommendations

Montreal Jass Festival
Montreal Jass Festival
Montreal Jass Festival
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
July 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm Comments (0)

Our Home in Montreal

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

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.

Our studio apartment was found in the very heart of Old Montreal, literally around the corner from the Basilica de Notre-Dame. Despite its prime location in a zone so inundated with tourists, the apartment manages to be quiet, because it’s on a side street without much traffic.

And the building is itself a part of Montreal’s rich history. It was constructed in 1900 for the Canadian Pacific railroad company as their telegraph building. The top floors were used as offices for receiving and sending messages, while the lower floors were designed as apartments. The foyer is a thing of beauty, and the building is today a historic landmark that appears on walking tours of the Old Town. It’s kind of cool to return home to a building that a group of tourists are taking pictures of.

The apartment itself is a large studio, with a wall separating the bedroom from the living room, and a fully-equipped kitchen. It’s not gigantic, but large enough for two people to live comfortably. There’s stable, high-speed internet, a television with dozens of channels, an iron, coffee machine and all the other types of amenities you might expect. And crucially, the apartments stays toasty in the winter. Additionally, there’s a community rooftop terrace, with incredible views of the old town.

We loved our stay in the Canadian Pacific Telegraph Building. It was really convenient for us to be in the center of Old Montreal, close to so many touristic sights. And the nearest subway station is just a five-minute walk, so we could easily zip around the city. The apartment’s owner, Mauricio, is a great guy; responsive, friendly, and easy to communicate with. If you’re interested in a historic place to stay while in Montreal, check out his Airbnb page, and get in touch!

Check For Flights To Montreal

, , , , , , , ,
July 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm Comment (1)

The Metro Stations of Montreal

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

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.

Today, Montreal’s Metro is the third busiest in North America, behind only those of New York and Mexico City. With four lines serving 68 stations, over a million people use the system every day. That’s a lot of cumulative hours spent underground, which is perhaps why the city has made an effort to make its stations as interesting as possible.

Architecturally, many of Montreal’s metro stations are works of art, with odd design elements or large-scale installations. It’s unlikely that the weary commuters who pass through these stations daily even notice them anymore, but many are really beautiful. While traveling around Montreal, we’d even occasionally hop out of the train just to check out the design of a particular hall.

We didn’t have time to see all of Montreal’s 68 metro stations, but here are some of the ones we thought were special:

Georges-Vanier (Orange Line)
Angrignon (Green Line)
Montreal Metro Agrignon
Montreal Metro Agrignon
Montreal Metro Agrignon
Montreal Metro Agrignon
Montreal Metro Agrignon
Montreal Metro Agrignon
Montreal Metro Agrignon

Check for flights to Montreal

Monk (Green Line)
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
Metro Monk
LaSalle (Green Line)
Pie-IX (Green Line)
Metro Pie IX
Metro Pie IX
Metro Pie IX
Metro Pie IX
Metro Pie IX
Metro Pie IX
Metro Pie IX
Metro Pie IX
Place-Saint-Henri (Orange Line)
Metro Place St Henri
Metro Place St Henri
Metro Place St Henri
Acadie (Blue Line)
Metro Arcadie
Metro Arcadie
Metro Arcadie
Metro Arcadie
Namur (Orange Line)
Metro Namur
Metro Namur
Metro Namur
Metro Namur
Metro Namur
Metro Namur
Metro Namur
De La Savane (Orange Line)
Metro De La Savane
Metro De La Savane
Metro De La Savane
Metro De La Savane
Metro De La Savane
Metro De La Savane
Metro De La Savane
Villa-Maria (Orange Line)
Metro Villa Maria
Metro Villa Maria
Metro Villa Maria
Metro Villa Maria
Metro Villa Maria
Metro Villa Maria
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
July 11, 2016 at 12:17 pm Comments (2)

Montreal’s Best Food … Is Asian?

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Download Our Montreal Travel Book

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.

Montreal does have great cuisine. I mean, this is a city with its heart in France, so food is a central part of its identity. But we didn’t always love the traditional French-Canadian meals we ordered in the city. Often they were overpriced, simply not that good, or both. And we found that poutine, while delicious, is always served with heavy sides of self-disgust and regret.

But there was one place where we were always able to find a meal that was delicious, affordable and relatively healthy: Chinatown. We lived close to this neighborhood, and whenever we didn’t feel like cooking, or had just dropped way too much cash on another uppity hipster joint, we returned here.

It’s not just Chinese food that you can find in Chinatown: there are restaurants specializing in Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian and Hong Kong cuisine. We had incredible ramen, hot-pot, dumplings, bibimbap, shabu-shabu and pho. We loved every restaurant we ate at, and although we quickly gathered a few favorites, we never ran out of new places to try out.

If you’re looking for great places to eat in Chinatown, here are some of the restaurants we can recommend:

Nouilles de Lan Zhou – Found above an excellent Asian supermarket, this is a small place with incredible hand-pulled noodles served in huge portions, with a rich broth. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Sumo Ramen – Japanese ramen done correctly is always difficult to find, but Sumo Ramen knows what’s up. They also make a Sumo-style poutine. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Orange Rouge – The only Asian restaurant in Chinatown where the staff and clientele are almost entirely white; it’s more expensive than its neighbors, but the food is outstanding. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Chez Bong – Excellent Korean food. We had bibimbap and kimchijjigae, and felt both were as good as the meals we had while living in Busan. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Kagayaki Shabu Shabu – Stylish and fun, with delicious boiling pots of broth, this is a great place to come with a small group of friends before a big night out. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Mai Xiang Yuan Dumplings – Scarfing down dozens of fried dumplings is probably not the healthiest option in Chinatown, but sometimes it’s worth it. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Pho Bac 97 – They put the pho in front of me. I dunked my head into the bowl and didn’t take it out, until all the pho was gone. It’s called a “pho-chug” and, yes, that’s something I just invented. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Nudo – More incredible hand-pulled Chinese noodles, and the nicest staff you could hope for. Massive portions for such a small price, and extremely delicious. [Location]

Montreal Asian Food

Follow us on Snapchat

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
July 8, 2016 at 12:54 pm Comment (1)

Saint-Louis Square and Rue Prince-Arthur

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Like most cities, Montreal can be ugly and noisy, with its constant construction, heavy traffic, plain gray skyscrapers, chain restaurants, and cloudy days. But it can also be surprisingly beautiful… and nowhere is that more apparent than around Saint-Louis Square, in the neighborhood of the Plateau.

One way to approach Saint-Louis Square is along Rue Prince-Arthur, a pedestrian street that leads from Boulevard Saint-Laurent. This used to be considered one of the top streets in Montreal for dining and nightlife, but its fortunes have taken a downward swing in recent years. It was cool, then gentrified, then known as a tourist trap, then avoided even by tourists, and today most of its buildings are vacant. And all this happened within a couple decades.

Square Sainte Louis Motreal

Today, walking down Prince-Arthur isn’t going to make you swoon with delight, but it’s interesting to see the potential for growth which Montreal still has. I mean, there’s no reason that this pedestrian street, right in the middle of such a cool neighborhood, shouldn’t be able to succeed. I have a feeling that the next phase in Prince-Arthur’s story is coming soon: post-gentrification-regentrification. Savvy investors, get in now!

If Rue Prince-Arthur’s atmosphere is one of lost glory, Saint-Louis Square’s is one of enduring charm. This is possibly the single loveliest square we’ve seen in Montreal. A small park filled with towering trees and crowned with an elegant central fountain, Saint-Louis is surrounded by stone Victorian-style homes with polygonal turrets and brightly-colored friezes.

We’d been in this area numerous times before, whether walking down St. Laurent, getting a drink in the Latin Quarter, or relaxing in the nearby La Fontaine Park. But somehow, we’d never stumbled upon Saint-Louis Square. It feels deliberately tucked away, not quite on any of the main thoroughfares. But it’s worth seeking out, especially if the constant noise and grime of downtown Montreal are getting you down. Grab a coffee and a book, and find a bench; a few minutes in Saint-Louis Square will make you feel better about the city.

Location on our Map

Rent A Car In Montreal

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
June 27, 2016 at 9:20 pm Comments (0)

The Mansions of the Golden Mile

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

There’s nothing rich people enjoy more than lording it over the rest of us, especially when they can do so literally. Montreal began life as a provincial fur-trading village, but as it grew in wealth and prestige, the richest and most powerful members of society started to build fabulous mansions on the slopes of Mont Royal, in a neighborhood which would eventually be coined the “Golden Square Mile.”

Golden Mile Montreal

The Golden Square Mile is found north of downtown, between Rue Sherbrooke and Mont Royal. The neighborhood’s fortunes have mirrored those of the city; when Montreal was a wealthy industrial powerhouse, roughly between 1850 and 1930, the Golden Square Mile was grand beyond belief. But after the Great Depression, WWII and the ensuing deindustrialization, Montreal lost much of its prestige, and its Golden Mile was hit hard. Today, less than 30% of the neighborhood’s original mansions have survived.

Golden Mile Montreal

Luckily, there’s still plenty to see. We walked up Rue Peel, and explored the roads which lead onto the mountain. Streets like the Avenue des Pins and Docteur-Penfield are studded with one magnificent residence after the other. Most of the homes are built with stone (sandstone or granite), and designed in a wide variety of styles, from Gothic to Romanesque.

Some of the best houses are found on a circular road called Redpath Crescent, which is about as high up the hill as it’s possible to build. Each building on this street is unique, and each enjoys a fabulous view over the city. We noticed one stately manor with a “For Sale” sign, and let out a sigh. We’re starting to accept that we’ll never be able to afford such a place. Youthful hope has been replaced in our hearts with resigned envy. And that’s okay. It had to happen at some point.

Location of Redpath Crescent on our Map

Subscribe to our newsletter, click here

Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
Golden Mile Montreal
, , , , , , , ,
June 26, 2016 at 12:52 pm Comments (0)

The Woods of Île Bizard

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

A small island found just off the foot of Montreal, Île Bizard is named after one of New France’s original settlers, Jacques Bizard. The island has been largely spared from over-development, and a healthy percentage of it is today protected in the Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard Nature Park. We spent a beautiful summer day there, exploring the park’s diverse ecosystems, which include swampland, plains and forest.

Ile Bizard

Montreal might be a big, dirty city, but you don’t have to travel far to escape into nature. While we were walking through the woods of Île Bizard, it seemed surreal that just forty minutes ago, we had been moaning about the noise and construction in our neighborhood. Here, the only sounds we encountered were those of birds and bullfrogs.

The various trails in the Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard permit a hike of about two hours, though you can make this much shorter if you just stick to the main path. The crown jewel of the park is a gorgeous marshland, which a long wooden bridge will take you across. We paused here for a few minutes, remaining quiet to better appreciate the scene. The bullfrogs were putting on a concert, surrounding us with the strange music of their calls, like muted plucks on a slightly-flat guitar.

Ile Bizard

Past the marsh, the park remains just as peaceful, if somewhat less spectacular. I wasn’t complaining though — after spending too much time in downtown Montreal, a quiet walk through the woods with sunlight filtering through the branches feels like a revelation. We continued along the path until reaching the northeastern point of the island, where the Prairies River meets Île Brigas and forms some minor rapids.

Although you can reach Île Bizard with public transportation, it’s a lot easier to get here if you have a car. But as far as escapes from Montreal go, this is probably one of the closest and most beautiful options.

Location on our Map

Check for rental car prices in Montreal

Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
Ile Bizard
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
June 25, 2016 at 4:54 pm Comments (0)

Glass Blowing at the Espace Verre

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

A unique gallery, studio and school dedicated to glass-blowing, Espace Verre was created in 1983 by two artists who wanted to give people in Montreal the chance to learn the artform. The small, private institution is based in a former fire hall in the industrial zone of Pointe-Saint-Charles, and is regularly open to visitors.

Glass Blowing Montreal

If you’re curious about glass-blowing, it’s worth stopping by the Espace Verre for the opportunity to watch artists at work; above the large studio where the kilns and benches are kept, there’s a viewing platform, from which you can observe without being a nuisance. This old firehouse is primarily a school for those learning about the art, but visitors are welcome to pop in.

Glass Blowing Montreal

Espace Verre offers a technical three-year degree in the art of glass-blowing. It’s a full-time program, which draws students from across Quebec and even Europe. Professional artists can also rent benches in the studio, regardless if they’ve studied here or not. And even if you’re not a trained glass-blower, you can still dip your toes into the kiln by attending one of their intensive weekend workshops.

Location on our Map
Espace Verre – Website

Learn How To Blow Glass

Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
Glass Blowing Montreal
, , , , , , ,
June 23, 2016 at 3:20 pm Comments (0)

The Canadian Grand Prix

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The Formula One Canadian Grand Prix has been held in Montreal since 1978, on the artificial island of Île Notre-Dame. Held every year at the beginning of June, the race is eagerly anticipated by the city’s residents, to whom it represents the unofficial start of summer.

It almost seems to perfect to be true, but the champion of Montreal’s first Grand Prix was a French Canadian: Gilles Villeneuve. A hero throughout Quebec, he died tragically a few years later, during a qualifying run for the Belgian Grand Prix, and Montreal’s track was renamed in his honor. Today, the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is considered one of the most exciting tracks on the F1 calendar, with long straightaways that allow cars to reach 300 kph and a couple hairpin turns.

Jürgen and I aren’t exactly racing fans. In fact, if you’d asked me who I expected to win the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix, I’d probably have said “Michael Schumacher,” because that’s the only racing name that comes to mind. (In my defense, he is the all-time leader at Montreal…) No, the winner of this year’s race was Lewis Hamilton, who I’m pretty sure I’ve also heard of. The Brit edged out Germany’s Sebastian Vettel by five seconds to notch his second-straight victory in Montreal.

Formula 1 Montreal

Sadly, this year’s race was marred by ugly, cold weather. We didn’t get tickets, but went out in the old town to sample some of the atmosphere. And although we found some outdoor terraces decorated with checkered flags, they were all empty. Everyone seemed to be huddled indoors, watching the race at sports bars. Apparently, the real party is at Crescent Street, which claims to be the biggest Grand Prix festival in the world, drawing half a million people over three days.

Montreal has a love/hate relationship with the Formula One. The city estimates that the race brings in up to $90 million, but a lot of people complain bitterly about it. Why should anyone be glamorizing pollution-spitting race cars? And there’s not much to love about racing’s vulgar macho culture, with all the sexy model-type women posing next to luxury cars, and unsavory associations with high-end prostitution. As a general rule, Jürgen and I dislike any event that reeks of elitism, and the Formula One certainly qualifies.

Oh well, we were happy enough for the race to be held, because it meant that summer had officially begun. Congrats to Schumacher, Hamilton, Dick Dastardly, or whoever it was that won this year’s race!

Location of the Track

Formula 1 Gear

Formula 1 Montreal
Formula 1 Montreal
Formula 1 Montreal
Formula 1 Montreal
Formula 1 Montreal
Formula 1 Montreal
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
June 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm Comments (0)

« Older Posts

Bonne Journe, Montreal! 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.
For 91 Days