Montréal: Eat, Drink, Fail at French, Repeat
It’s always a good idea to visit Montréal. That’s the lesson I will take back with me after spending a week in this trendy metropolis. With its character-driven industries and adamant non-nationalistic principles, many Canadians feel as if they’ve voyaged into a foreign kingdom when setting foot in Montreal.
That foodie culture which has been permeating through social consciousness for the last 5 years has not left Montréal untouched. One of the main attractions is the Jean-Talon Market, in the centre of Little Italy. Being one of Montréal’s oldest, locals are lucky enough to purchase delicious fruit and veg at knock-down prices. And what’s more, there’s even tasters to sway you into purchasing the goods.
The real meaning of eating out
No francophone nation can be without museums and galleries showcasing their heritage. With over 50 institutions to choose from, it’s guaranteed you’ll find something up your street. McMichaels and the Montréal Musuem of Fine arts are within walking distance from each other and I got into them both for FREE with my Royal Ontario Museum membership card. I’m happy it finally came to some good! tip: don’t expect all the museums and galleries to have English translations, your mother tongue just ain’t that welcome here!
Sit above the crowds vs Being part of it
I always like listening to locals, so when they suggested Salon De Thé Cardinal to escape from the midsummer rain, I jumped on the chance. This beautiful tea room is only open from Thursday to Sunday and can be accessed by a set of non-descript stairs leading up from 5326 Saint-Laurent Boulevard. It’s a great respite if you want to find something off the beaten track and have a little lunch in Montréal’s bouji Mile End area. Oh, and please get the chai, it’s one of the most authentic I’ve tried outside of India.
Why climb when you can fly?
The 20 minute hike to the top of Mont Royal (the hill which Montréal supposedly received its name) provides visitors with some heady views of downtown Montréal. There’s also a visitor centre in the old chalet and a few green paths which wind away and around the hillside. But hey, cityscapes aren’t everyone’s forte so if you still wanted to get your heart pumping without all the walking then try out the zip line by the old port.
Montréal loves to replicate
The first thing I noticed about the churches in Montréal is, they are mostly replicas of pre-existing establishments in Paris or Rome. I guess they’re from a why-fix-what’s-not-broke school of architecture. This is why Maria Reine-du-monde is my favourite. It’s at an easy to reach location and more importantly, it’s free (unlike the Notre-Dame).
Long Days, Late Nights
Québec’s liquor licensing laws are little more relaxed than the rest of Canada, you can stay out an hour later (til 3am), buy alcohol in a grocery store and dance the night away in some of the liveliest districts in the country. This city is deliciously versatile, so go explore it! Even though many North American’s only visit because of its ‘European Vibe’, but you’d be hard pressed to not feel like you’re still in Canada. Practice your French, get some comfy shoes and don’t go home until the sun starts to burn.