• 4 days to discover Montreal •

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First step of this Quebec road trip : visit my friends who recently moved to Montreal. Let’s go for 4 days in this city!

To be noted: to go from the airport to my friend’s flat, I had to take a 24h pass ($10) to take the shuttle. It was therefore useful for the next 24 hours, and then I got a 3 days pass for $19.50 to get around because the interest points are quite far from each other, and for $3.50 the ticket, it’s worth!

Day 1 :

After a little lie in, we peacefully start the day by going to the small Atwater market.
Covered, each stand is perfectly tidied : it’s nice to come shopping here or even eat when the weather is bad! Once our bellies full, we decide to walk along the Lachine Canal which is right next to it, heading towards the old harbour. This little walk by the water allows us to enjoy the diversity of the buildings Montreal has to offer.
Once arrived on the first part of the old harbour, we turn to go to the Notre Dame basilica. To see it entirely, go to the Armes square, it’s huge! To enter, you will have to pay $8 ; I didn’t because my friends had gone the week before.

Notre Dame basilica

Apparently, it’s worth because there are often sound and light shows during the day.
We’re now on our way to the Crew café, which is nothing less than an old bank redesigned into a coffee shop. This mix of genres is really worth a look!
Then we’re continuing our tour of the “atypical” places with the International Trade Centre. We would all dream about going through this magnificent hall on our way to work : you will see high windowed ceiling, statues and fountains.

These visits are starting to make us hungry. We’re taking the tube to go to THE place to be to have a snack : Juliette et Chocolat (this place was meant for me!). Located across the city, this café expert in desserts offers a menu which anyone would drawl on : ice-creams, waffles, crepes, smoothies, milkshakes, brownies, chocolate fondue… the dream!
Not far away from this place is the Saint Louis square, small greenery oasis in the Plateau area, which is by the way the place where lots of French people decide to settle to live in Montreal. I really like this park : it’s calm, the squirrels come to say hello and it’s surrounded by nice coloured houses.

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Don’t hesitate to wander about in the little streets surrounding it to see the beautiful typical houses.
After this rather full day, it’s time to go back to the flat.

Day 2 :

After the first day in Quebec, I realise I overestimated the temperature during my trip : I should’ve left my bikini and shorts in France and take more big jumpers instead!
Anyway, it’s alright, it’s a good excuse to go shopping! Let’s go to the “Place des Arts” where events often take place. There, there is also the Desjardins complex, shelter of shops of all kinds.
Now more rightfully equipped, we can have a brunch at Passé Composé… Is is a perfect day yet?
It’s a rather prised restaurant for its brunch, served every day. I really recommend to come not too late (around 10am) and during the week : they do not take reservations and the customers are queuing up.
Having said this, we ordered the “Dej du Passé Composé” and the “Oeuf poché au confit de canard”, and it’s to die for!

brunch passé composé

To digest, we decide to go and explore the Botanical garden of the city of Montreal. For $20,5 we have a day and night access to enjoy the sound and light exhibition, which took place during my stay. I was impressed by several parts of the garden: the exhibition greenhouses, the China garden and the gardens on the left of the map. The rest is a bit disappointing…

Botanical garden of the city of Montreal

The night show is truly beautiful and allows to discover the garden from a different perspective, full of magic!

botanical garden by night

Day 3 :

New day, new market. The Jean Talon market is also famous in Montreal. If I had to choose, I’d say I prefer this one to Atwater’s. More spacious and luminous, it offers a larger choice of products and food stands, and the shops around are nice also. All the pumpkins at Halloween time only adds more charm to the place!
After taking the tube, we’re joining the bottom of the Mont-Royal park. Why the bottom? Because the nice things to see in the park are at the top of it; 260 steps higher to be exact! A bus can lead you to the top, but it’s not often.
I reach the first point eventually out of breath : the famous Kondiaronk belvedere. Not ringing a bell? Yes, it does! It’s the picture you’ve seen hundreds of times, a panoramic view over the city of Montreal from a huge terrasse. Well, it’s there!
I don’t want to be a kill-joy, but… Yes, it is a must-see, but hm… I prefer seeing landscapes in the wild than a forest of grey building, without hesitation… When I’ll be back in Montreal, I’d still want to come back here to see a sunset.
Equipped with the map of the park (available at the tourism office), I’m deciding to follow the discovery itinerary which is approximately 10km long and which is easily done within half a day. You can also deviate the itinerary and venture in the tens of trails furrowing the forest. During this walk, you can come across:

  • the Kondiaronk belvedere ;
  • The Mont Royal Cross, a mix between a Christian cross and the Eiffel Tower, it’s quite unusual!
  • The Beaver Lake (without beavers!) : I had a crush on this lake and the vast stretches of lawn surrounding it. It’s nice to lie down to enjoy the sun during the summer. During winter, the lake is iced and is used as a rink. Sounds like Central Park!
  • An elite neighbourhood : we’re coming out of the park to walk in the residential area : some houses must worth millions!
  • Westmount belvedere : less famous, but it also offers a very good view over the city;
  • The Saint Joseph oratory : the ally leading to the church is currently maintenance, which kind of broke the image I had of it! That being said, the church is staggering from the outside as from the inside!
Mont Royal park

Again, a nice day of visits coming to an end. To celebrate, we’re heading towards the Barraca (Mont Royal area), a rum bar offering a happy hour with $1 tacos (from Sunday to Wednesday) and a double mojito for the price of one (form Monday to Wednesday)… Might as well say that the evening was rather merry!

Barraca

Day 4 :

After these busy three first days of holidays, we have decided to chill before my big departure tomorrow (article available soon).
What’s better than to start the day (it’s noon) by eating a poutine? Let’s go to Poutine Ville, a restaurant chain which has been tested and approved by my friends. There are so many choices that it’s impossible not to find one’s happiness.
Now taking the tube to digest! We’ve then wandering through the old Montreal, listening to people play music in the Arts court (which looks like Paris), we’re walking towards the big wheel where the first autumn leaves start to become red… We’re chilling!

big wheel

To end my stay in this first Quebec city, we’re going to the Scandinavian spa in the old Montreal for a zen break (I knew it was a good idea to bring my bathing suit!). Unfortunately, when we saw the price (€55) and the place, I rather recommend to go to Bota Bota : it’s cheaper and has an original setting : the spa is on a barge.

Montreal was my city crush because there are a lot of visits to do across the city. It allows to not see too many tourists (unlike the city of Quebec).

Here I am, ready for a month of road trip across the Quebec region!

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