A weekend getaway guide to Montreal

A weekend is all you need to fall in love with this city’s historic neighborhoods, thriving art venues and great food.

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A trip to Montreal can be a bit exotic at first: Am I in Europe? Canada? Should I speak in French or English, or both? The short answer is yes. Montreal looks like a bit of everything, especially when you explore its distinctive neighborhoods.

A visit to Canada’s second largest city is approximately living in the urban space, meet the inhabitants, and share a moment. just pass Old Montreal, where you can admire the historic side of the city with architecture dating back to its founding in 1642. Or spend time in the bohemian Plateau Mont-Royal district, which attracts young artists and students thanks in part to proximity to McGill University.

Montreal is also eating, of course. With one of the highest number of restaurants per capita in North America, the city has in recent decades moved away from classic French and Italian cuisine to unleash its creative spirit. Most chefs are happy to champion farmers and local produce on their menus for a taste of the whole province, from land to sea. (Although you’d be sorry if you didn’t try the smoked meats .) Independent bakeries, cafes, specialty food shops and restaurants thrive in every neighborhood – you’ll want to pack your stretchy pants.

The colorful facade of Hotel Le Germain stands out among the skyscrapers that surround it.

Where to stay in Montreal

Hotel Le Germain

Book now: Hotel Le Germain

Inspired by the mid-century modern aesthetic of the 1960s, Hotel Le Germain’s 2019 renovations transformed this downtown property into a stylish space with exceptional service. Visitors are greeted at the 100-room hotel by the rainbow-hued facade created by artist Michelle Hoogveld as part of the Wall festival, an annual event that champions urban art. Rooms offer stunning views of Mount Royal or the skyscrapers along the street, and depending on the room, accents range from round beds to hanging bubble chairs.

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth

Book now: Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth

Old-world charm and modern amenities reign at this grand downtown hotel that has hosted royalty and celebrities since 1958. It’s where John Lennon and Yoko Ono hosted a famous bed-in a week in Suite 1742. The hotel underwent a renovation in 2017; the result is a new Fairmont Gold (Gold) within a hotel, with a dedicated 21st-floor guest lounge and separate concierge services, and updated guest rooms (there are 950) with modernist details As geometric patterned floors and bold retro colors. The hotel is also putting on a special new Cirque Eloize cabaret show which is a wild affair.

Hotel Gault

Book now: Hotel Gault

On a quiet, cobblestone street in Old Montreal, this historic 19th-century building is adorned with intricate moldings and cast-iron columns that stand in stark contrast to the 30 minimalist-style lofts and suites it houses, with sweeping views of the town.

Epik Hotel

Book now: Epik Hotel

With just 10 rooms and suites, Épik’s renovations retained architectural details that date back to the 1700s, such as wooden beams and stone walls, offset by sleek modern design elements like LED lights. and rain showers. The hotel in Old Montreal is close to sites like the Notre-Dame Basilica, eclectic shops, and plenty of restaurants, so you won’t have to travel far to experience the city’s vibrant offerings.

Larrys is one of many restaurants vying for your brunch reservation.

Where to eat and drink in Montreal

Where to go for brunch

Montrealers love brunch and the city offers many great options. Olive et Gourmando du Vieux-Montréal is a must for its puff pastries and its “Egg on your Face” breakfast sandwich. For a more British twist, Larrys is the place to go. Don’t skip the scones! Other great brunch choices include modern Lebanese cuisine at Shay, charcuterie classics (and the best pancakes) at Arthurs, and French brasserie fare at Leméac. For a classic Montreal-style brunch, head to Beautys. The charcuterie has been serving bagels and Montreal smoked salmon platters since 1942.

Where to go for lunch

For lunch, you’ll have to feast on some of Montreal’s most iconic dishes: piping hot bagels (sweeter, crunchier and, dare I say, better than New York bagels), poutine or a sandwich smoked meat a mile high. These Montreal specialties are the best of their kind.

For a sweet snack, try the chocolate babka from Hof ​​Kelsten or the lemon tart from Pâtisserie Rhubarbe.

Where to go for dinner

If you’re in town for a few days, head to Candide, a restaurant inside the presbytery of a converted church, for regional cuisine. You are almost guaranteed to try unique ingredients from Quebec’s wild terroir. Its wine list is one of the best in town. If the weather is good, try to snag a table on the pretty terrace located in a quiet lane. Otherwise, the bar with a view of the kitchen action is the best place.

If you crave fine French cuisine, La Chronique and its bright dining room is a great place to spend an evening. His foie gras specialties and his service are always impeccable.

Vin Mon Lapin is a gem of a neighborhood restaurant in Little Italy with a beautiful dining room, fun and knowledgeable staff, an outstanding collection of great bottles (some of which you won’t find anywhere else), and the best produce. inventive and seasonal. dishes served in small dishes to share. It is imperative!

Old Montreal is a small piece of Europe that you can find on this side of the Atlantic.

What to do in Montreal

Explore Old Montreal

With its cobblestone walkways and century-old buildings, Old Montreal arguably has some of the most European streets this side of the Eiffel Tower. Locals and tourists wander its charming narrow streets to enjoy some of the city’s top attractions. Charismatic Saint-Paul Street, Montreal’s former main artery, is flanked by the historic 19eBuildings from the last century are now home to art galleries, kitschy tourist shops and glamorous restaurants.

One of Old Montreal’s main landmarks is the Notre-Dame Basilica, built in the neo-Gothic style between 1824 and 1829 (the steeples were finalized in 1843). Get tickets for Will have, an immersive sound and light show that showcases the basilica’s intricately carved wooden details and stained glass windows. For other memorable experiences, head to the PHI Center, a multidisciplinary art gallery featuring immersive exhibits using virtual reality.

You can admire panoramic views of Old Montreal and the river from several places, including the Montreal Ferris wheel, the iconic clock tower that overlooks the beach in Old Montreal or the spectacular Notre-Dame-de- Well, 300 years old. -Secours Chapel.

For a relaxing afternoon, book a massage at Bota Bota, an award-winning floating thermal spa housed inside a repurposed ferry with views of the famous Habitat 67.

Go downtown

From Old Montreal, it’s just a short walk through Chinatown to Quartier des Spectacles, a neighborhood in downtown Montreal that’s the city’s “cultural heart.” Some of Montreal’s biggest festivals take place here, especially during the summer when you can catch a Montreal Jazz Festival concert, a Just for Laughs show, or one of the many free outdoor activities.

If you love shopping, head west on Sainte-Catherine Street to McGill Avenue and beyond for world-class shopping above and below ground in the city Montreal underground. The pedestrian network that connects malls, subway stations and dozens of downtown buildings stretches 20 miles beneath downtown and is a great way to enjoy a day away from the vagaries of Mother Nature. .

Discover the Mile End

The Mile-End has the well-deserved reputation of being the trendiest neighborhood in Canada; its vibrant arts and music scene is home to many independent music stores, boutiques and bookstores. Mimic the locals as you browse Drawn & Quarterly’s stacks of books, then head to Café Olimpico for a latte and a few people watching on its terrace.

Hike or drive through Mount Royal Park to Beaver Lake for a panoramic view of the city. If you’re around on a Sunday, head to the George-Étienne Cartier monument and the tam-tams du Mont Royal, where you can find a spontaneous gathering of drummers and percussionists, the epitome of Montreal eccentricity.

Stop at Little Italy

From the Mile-End, it’s a short walk to Little Italy. Stop at an Italian cafe before heading to Jean-Talon Market, one of the largest open-air farmers’ markets in North America and a great place to grab lunch and stock up on edible souvenirs ( like Quebec maple syrup).

Visit Space for Life

Space for Life is the largest science museum complex in Canada and combines several experiences under one roof, or rather in the same neighborhood. You can gaze at the stars at the state-of-the-art planetarium, meet the smallest creatures at the insectarium, observe animals in the immersive ecosystems of the biodome or stroll through the botanical gardens. Montreal’s famous Olympic Stadium, home of the 1976 Olympics, is in the same neighborhood.

Cycling in town

Montreal has over 430 miles of bike paths and has been named one of the most bike-friendly cities in North America. Rent a bike or grab a BIXI (short-term rental) and ride along the Lachine Canal or around Parc Jean Drapeau for two scenic tours.

>>Next: Toronto is the perfect weekend getaway for adventurous eaters

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