With its elegant stone facades, cobblestone boulevards and traditional bistros, Montreal certainly has that je ne sais quoi. Known as ‘Paris-Across-the-Pond’, the city impresses visitors with its innovative cuisine, lively music scene and its French roots.
Fill Up On Food
© Un Chef à l'érable
There are three must-buy items in Montreal, and strangely enough they are all food related.
There is the national staple of poutine which, to be honest doesn't travel well, but is delicious no matter how much its appearance suggests otherwise. Again, this isn't a good souvenir to take from Montreal, but the smoked meat, gravy, cheese curd and French fry creation is definitely not something to miss out on.
Next is the vastly more portable maple syrup. While you can find traditional maple syrup in any grocery store, it is easy to make the mistake of picking up false maple flavoured syrup. Instead of taking that risk, head on down to Canadian Maple Delights store in Old Montreal, which sells everything maple. Beside the maple coffee, cookies, salt and gelato, it also has some good old fashioned pure maple syrup.
© Alice Gao/Commission Canadienne du Tourisme
The third speciality is bagels. There is fierce competition about which city has better bagel – Montreal or New York City. Head to Saint-Viateur Bagels and taste their 50 year of bagel-making expertise in every bite.
Fabulous Fashion & Luxury Shopping
Creativecommons.org/Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose
Montreal is largely considered to be the fashion capital of Canada. It hosts many Canadian apparel headquarters and has a thriving shopping district, as well as plenty of smaller boutiques throughout the city.
© Canadian Tourism Commission
For fashion on a large scale, head on down to Holt Renfrew – Canada’s largest luxury department store – next to McGill University. The store carries high-end designer labels such as Chanel, Dolce and Gabanna and Chloe. Shoppers are also treated to a slew of luxury perfumes, designer handbags and shoes.
© Tourisme Montréal
For more intimate boutiques, make your way to The Plateau and visit Les Etoffes. Les Etoffes maintains an extremely high standard of quality in the goods they offer, as well as pieces by lesser-known designers such as Rag & Bone and Risto. Also at The Plateau is the U&I boutique, which stocks designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Phillip Lim 3.1 and Mackage.
Take In The Music SceneCreativecommons.org/Retis
From Jazz and Indie to experimental new sounds, Montreal offers it all. Head on down to the La Sala Rossa on Saint-Laurent, and elegant little club where you’ll find reggae, indie rock or break dancing competitions any night of the week. Unlike many of the other clubs in Montreal that specialize in a certain type of music, La Sala Rossa really wants its guests to be able to experience it all.
Across the street lies the 'House of the People', Casa Del Popolo, which is part fair trade cafe, part bar, part art gallery and part live music venue. It features quite a lot of acoustic acts and spoken word poetry, all in an intimate atmosphere that showcases local art on the wall.
© Society for Arts and Technology (SAT), Sébastien Roy
For a more classic music experience, be sure to catch a performance by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at Montreal Symphony House at Place des Arts. This world-famous symphony has hosted such famous musicians as Otto Klemperer, Igor Markevitch and Zubin Mehta throughout the years.
Fine Dining In A Fine City
© Susan Moss Photography
Montreal prides itself on being the culinary capital of Canada, which is saying something considering the great culinary feats happening in places like Toronto and Vancouver.
The best of Montreal's French cuisine can be found at Chez L'Epicier in Old Montreal. Chef Godbout is a master of classic French fusion cuisine. From the traditional white asparagus soup with truffle oil and slow-poached salmon, to the more creative chocolate 'club sandwich' or pineapple fries, L'Epicier takes the palate on a unique adventure.
For more adventurous modern dining, head to The Plateau district to La Chronique. Chef Marc De Canck has been serving the city since 1995. In a restaurant that never plays it safe, the cuisine uniquely blends Japanese, Italian, Chinese and Creole inspirations with French technique. It is hard to describe the cuisine at La Chronique, as they are so unconventional, but it is a great place to spend an evening.
Sleep Like A Celebrity
Ross Dunn, via Flickr/photos/rdb466/
With all the talented performers that pass through Montreal, visitors may very well find themselves staying where the A-lister once stayed, especially if they choose one of the most luxurious spots in town.
One such spot is the Hotel Le Crystal. Due to this hotel's prime location near Bell Centre, hockey fans should be especially interested, as this is the favourite place to stay for visiting hockey teams. Le Crystal pampers guests with floor to ceiling windows, spa style bathrooms, leather chairs and rooms decorated with warm woods and rich colours. For fitness junkies, the hotel’s gym probably has the best view of the city from its location on the 12th floor.
The Hotel Le St-James in Old Montreal pampers rock super stars and European royalty alike. Anyone, regardless of fame, can appreciate the splendour of this hotel that is just dripping with old world charm. The St-James used to be the Mercantile Bank of Canada, and interior remains mostly intact. The 20-metre ceilings and the restored murals of hydraulic dams give this luxury hotel plenty of personality. Every room comes equipped with a gas fireplace, Bang and Olfsen sound systems and complimentary Molton Brown body products.
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