Montreal, Quebec, Canada
One of the most original Cities, Montreal knows how to live. Great art, great music, great food (in my top 3 food cities).
Montreal is an incredible City, and one that knows how to celebrate the arts of all varieties – from music to culinary. I would definitely recommend going in the late spring or summer months, not only to partake in the many City festivals (like the world renowned Montreal Jazz Festival which I was lucky enough to cover many years ago, when Prince himself showed up to play a small club venue for fun), but to also enjoy the walkability (and bike ride ability) of old town and more, without the harsh winter temperatures. It’s like a slice of Europe here in North America (Quebec City too), complete with centuries-old stone facades, traditional bistros, elegant boulevards, and a certain je ne sais quoimake Montreal’s reputation as an Old World city manqué well-deserved. But this Francophone metropolis is no fossilized relic. When you travel to Montreal, step beyond the cobbled lanes of Vieux-Montréal, and you’re surrounded by thoroughly of-the-moment buildings from the likes of I. M. Pei; innovative, globally inspired cuisine; boundary-pushing music from bands such as Arcade Fire and The Dears; and a dizzying blend of cultures that includes not just French but Italian, Chinese, and Caribbean. What binds all this together are the Montrealers themselves, who embrace their dualisms with relish. Visit Montreal to discover the European flair and sophistication of this unique Canadian metropolis. (In fact it is such a popular destination, that is came up in conversation on three of my Suitcase Sojourn podcast episodes!)
THINGS NOT TO MISS IN MONTREAL
• Vieux-Montréal and the Vieux-Port • Mount Royal • Place Des Arts • The vibrant Plateau and Mile End neighborhoods • St. Joseph’s Oratory and Notre-Dame Basilica • The Musée des Beaux-Arts • The Botanic Gardens and the Biodôme • Jean Talon Market (I go here to stock up on some local spices I can’t find anywhere else)
Honestly the list is so long, I don’t even know where to start! Some things that are uniquely Montreal, are the bagels (a little flatter & sweeter), smoked meat sandwiches, poutine, and the many cheeses (and foie gras) they are becoming famous for, sometimes more so that France (sorry guys, it’s true). In fact, many of today’s top chefs have come out of this City, and you may have seen the popular culinary locals Fred Morin and Dave McMillan, the chef and owner of Montreal’s legendary Joe Beef restaurant. from Anthony Bourdain’s incredible episode in Quebec. It’s hard to pick just a few places, but: Au Pied de Cochon, Montreal, Bistro Bienville, Boucherie Abu Elias, Café Santropol, Caffe San Simeon, Chez Gautier, Chez L’Épicier, Cosmo, DNA, Fairmount Bagels, Garde Manger, Graziella, Joe Beef, aizen, Kitchen Galerie, La Banquise, La Montée de Lait, La Salle à Manger, Au Pied de Cochon, Montreal, Les Cons Servent, Liverpool House, Madre, Mas Cuisine, Milos, Montreal, Rotisserie Romados, Schwartz’s, Toqué!, Wilensky’s…..and on, and on, and on.
Plenty of options, and of course the classics are here, from the recently renovated Ritz Carlton to the newly opened Four Seasons, The W, Lowes and more. Here is a good hotel list from Travel + Leisure