So, I shared a few photos last week of our trip to Montreal. We spent five days in the city and loved it there. Instead of doing a full play-by-play, I thought it may be helpful to share some of our top picks.
It is still plenty long, though. Forgive me for my wordiness.
The bottom line – you should plan a trip to Montreal. And here are a few of our “favorites” to add to your list when you do.
I must start with the food, because every meal in this city was amazing. Just bring some stretchy sweatpants, because you are bound to gain a few pounds. Totally worth it. Steaks, mussels, wine, pastries and french fries… oh my goodness, the french fries.
A few of our favorite restaurants in Montreal:
Gibby’s – This restaurant in Old Montreal had the best food and wonderful atmosphere. It is a 200-year-old building that was once a stable. Original wood and stone abound. The meals are a bit pricey, but worth it. The staff was amazing. Just fabulous.
Taverne Square Dominion – This was a quick walk from our hotel and we sat on the patio for a late supper one night. The steak came with an egg on top, which Ryan loved. The food was really top-notch and the server was super friendly.
The Keg Steakhouse – We shared prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes and it was delicious. And very fast. Plus, the service was great. We got to sit on the patio, which was a nice plus.
Cafe Vasco de Gama – This was our first stop in Montreal and it was a great start. Paninis and the best salads. I cannot wait to try to recreate the most delicious salad I’ve ever eaten – it was a mixture of avocado, artichoke, tomato and lime. Oh, my mouth is still watering.
Au Pain Dore – My husband would have eaten here every day. Oh my gosh, the pastries. Killing.Me. (And in case you were wondering, they do not allow photos inside. I was told as such. Very nicely.)
We also stopped at the Jean Talon Market, a huge outdoor farmer’s market that is open seven days a week. It’s definitely worth a stop, for fresh fruit and veggies, flowers and if you are Rebecca, oysters. There are also a few restaurants in this area. Overall, just a fun stop if you can swing it. The fruit and vegetables were so beautifully displayed. (It’s right off the metro at the Jean Talon stop.)
The city of Montreal has some of the most beautiful buildings and neighborhoods. It really looks like Europe in many ways. Tons of stone buildings, statues, green squares and old churches. Like the old church right out our hotel window.
Some of our favorite historical spots in Montreal:
Old Montreal – The oldest streets in the city are certainly worth a stop. Wandering through the alleys and checking out stores is a great way to spend an afternoon.
We also liked walking around Place Jacques-Cartier, which had a fountain, a few statues and lots of restaurants.
Notre Dame Basilica – We walked by the basilica during the day, but bought tickets to the 8:30 light show in the evening.
While the video presentation itself was a bit cheese-a-riffic, the sanctuary is breathtaking.
The craftsmanship and the details in the church are just beautiful. Seeing it at night with the lights is worth the $10.
St. Louis Square – This was a fun stop for our last day in the city. It’s a really neat neighborhood which is apparently where many French-Canadians settled in the 1800s. It’s a more European version of the painted ladies in San Francisco.
Mount Royal – This is a must-do, in my opinion. The mountain is the source of the name for Montreal (Mount Royal = Montreal) and the views are lovely.
While you can certainly walk 45 minutes to an hour to the peak, you can also hop on Bus 11 which will take you pretty close to the top. (This is what we did. Our legs were already so sore from all the walking.)
As an aside, the first day we were in Montreal, the Grand Prix bike races were going on. It was kind of fun to see.
The magic of lanterns – We headed to the Montreal Botanical Gardens to see the current Chinese Lanterns exhibit.
It was pretty busy, but the lights were pretty and it was worth a stop. We also really enjoyed the bonsai garden.
Olympic Park – We didn’t take the official tours, but it was fun to walk around Olympic Park, the site of the 1976 Olympics. Now, the sites include a sports stadium, the Biodome and more. It’s definitely worth a stop.
It was also quite pretty at night, where Rebecca and I took the opportunity to take home the gold and silver. (She graciously allowed me to be the gold medal winner.)
I love this girl.
Quays of the Old Port – Many of the attractions (paddle boats, stores, etc.) were closed up for the season, but it was still lovely to walk at the Quays of the Old Port. There are lovely walking trails on the river.
La Bateau-Mouche – We also had the opportunity to take the boat cruise on the river with our group and it was a fun experience.
While most people in Montreal spoke French, don’t let it stop you from visiting if you don’t speak anything beside “Bonjour.” We don’t speak a lick of French and it didn’t affect us at all. The people in restaurants, stores and even on the street were fabulous and friendly. We never felt uncomfortable or out of place. And when you say “hello” at a store or cafe, people immediately switch to English.
Even on the street, people were friendly and helpful. Once, Ryan and I were a little turned around when trying to find a bus. A woman approached us and asked if we needed help. It was like that everywhere.
The people of Montreal are truly wonderful. You’d be lucky to meet them.
In our opinion, the best way to get around Montreal as a tourist is the metro.
The metro trains take you nearly everywhere you want to go and are really easy to understand (even if the stops are French). It’s also really clean, which is a plus.
For $18, you can get an unlimited 3-day pass. (It also gets you on the buses.)
The city also has bikes everywhere. For $5, you can rent a bike for the day. We really wanted to do this, but ended up being able to take the metro everywhere we needed to be. When we go back, we’re doing it. There are tons of bike trails, including around Olympic Park, Mount Royal and the Port.
And make sure you bring your walking shoes (or boots, in my case). Cause you are going to do some walking. (And if you can score a free poncho, it could be helpful if it rains. You are welcome for sharing this photo.)
We stayed in the downtown area, in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. It was a lovely hotel in the most convenient location. The concierge was fabulous and helpful. The room was very charming. The restaurant and bars were also lovely. But, the best part, it was right on top of the Underground City, which has tons of restaurants, stores and the metro station. Super duper handy!
Montreal is also a shopper’s heaven, although Ryan and I didn’t do much of it. The hotel was a block from a major shopping paradise, which felt a lot like Michigan Avenue in Chicago. We did check out the Apple store for a laptop charger, but otherwise, we just window-shopped.
And those are a few of our favorites from our trip to Montreal.
Is there anything I missed?
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