Edgy, unapologetic, seductive, nonconformist… these words often spring to mind when talking about Montreal.
The city is Canada’s epicentre of fun and fabulousness, a cultural
chameleon with a unique sense of style, jumping nightlife and amazing food.
There is always something happening here – even on Sundays, when you can rock
to the rhythm of the Tam Tams (a legendary weekly drumming
festival) or groove to the hottest electro beats at Piknik Électronik (an outdoor dance
Congenial and charming, the Plateau is one of Montreal’s hippest
districts. Once a run-down, blue-collar neighbourhood, it now boasts arty
residents, great bars and restaurants, and a bohemian vibe. The distinctive
architecture, characterized by spiral staircases and colourful old Victorian
houses, is what makes this area so cool — a refreshing change from
cookie-cutter homes in the ‘burbs. Montreal’s favourite son Leonard Cohen still
keeps an apartment right in the Plateau, just steps away from St Laurent
Boulevard (known as “the Main” to locals). The best way to explore the ‘hood?
Grab a bixi bike and take a random tour, cruising
its tree-lined streets (Gilford and Esplanade are pretty scenic options) and picturesque
boulevards. If you are on the Main and need a pick-me-up, be sure to join the
locals at Euro Deli for an espresso or an allongé.
Montreal’s lively foodie culture and culinary scene are famous across
North America. Whether you are seeking haute cuisine, or keen to sample
local specialities such as smoked meat, maple syrup, bagels and poutine (fries
smothered in cheese curd and gravy), you will be well catered for. Dining
options are endless, and the food is both tasty and reasonably priced. The
iconic Schwartz’s Deli on St Laurent Boulevard is
Montreal’s mainstay for smoked meat. But Montreal is a city of contrasts, and
it is no surprise to find popular vegan restaurant Aux Vivres just up the road. Permanently
packed with veggie lovers, this place is so good that even die-hard carnivores will
not miss their meat. Of course, after fuelling up on a healthy meal here, you
will be in the mood to indulge. For the ultimate in sweet decadence, La boutique Grandbois offers high quality,
handmade chocolates with some unforgettable flavour combinations… ganache and
Monte Cristo cigar leaves, anyone?
Montreal is known for its European charm, which is especially evident in
the cobblestone streets of the Old Port. Meander along the river or stroll down
St Paul, before stopping for a croissant
at celebrated café and bakery, Olive & Gourmando. Feeling un peu
fatigué after all your sightseeing? Take a soothing break in the eucalyptus
steam bath at Scandinave les Bains. After some pampering
here, you will be refreshed, relaxed and ready to continue exploring the
stunning architecture of this historic area.
The article 'A tour of Montreal' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.