Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Quick Travel Guide for a Weekend in Montréal


The mix of  European glamour and down-to-earth Canadian charm makes Montréal one of the most vibrant cities in North America. The city is packed with things to do. There's nature, there's great shopping, there's museums, there's sports and there is almost always a cool festival going on (Just for Laughs, Osheaga, etc. to name a few). The food scene in Montréal is just as diverse as its multi-cultural population, making the city a foodie haven. On top of that, the French-Canadian culture brings a unique 'je ne sais quoi' that simply cannot be replicated outside of Quebec. Here is the essential travel guide for a superbe weekend visit to Montréal:

Stay:
Photo: The Ritz
1. The Ritz - Recently renovated, but timelessly glamorous, the hotel boasts an in-house spa, nearby shopping, and prime-time proximity to the must-see Mont Royal sight!

2. Le Westin - Le Westin is a tried and true business hotel that is also great for tourists. Le Westin is within walking distance to Old Montreal, St. Catherines Street, The Village, RESO (the underground network of shops and restaurants), and great cafes (see: Olive + Gourmando and Crew Collective)

3. Hôtel William Gray- This contemporary boutique hotel in Old Montreal will make you feel like you're walking the cobblestone streets of a modern-day European fairytale

Activities:
Photo: Montréal Museum of Fine Arts
1. Visit the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. The museum has an impressive collection of modern and classical art and admission to the permanent collection is always free.

2. Climb Mount Royal in the morning. It is a great hike all year round and a majestic escape right in the middle of the city.

3. See the city by BIXI, Montréal's public bicycle sharing system.

4. See the stunning Notre Dame Basilica (this is where Celine Dion got married)

5. Relax at the Scandinavian Spa Old Montreal with a traditional Scandinavian baths experience.

Shopping:
Photo: Holt Renfrew via PBTH
1. Holt Renfrew - Holt Renfrew is Canada's department store equivalent of Saks Fifth Avenue or Harrod's. The ultra chic Holt's cafe is worth a visit if your shopping works up an appetite. 

2. SSENSE - Montreal is home to the headquarters of the trendy e-commerce site SSENSE's and their only brick and mortar location. Development of a new 5-story concept store is currently underway and the new store will bring very similar vibes to a Dover Street Market in London or a Collette in Paris.

Quick Bites:
Photo: Maison Christian Fauvre
1. Maison Christian Fauvre - This classic and tremendously chic French patisserie has macarons, desserts, and a chocolate almond croissant that should not be missed

2. Olive + Gourmando - Olive + Gourmando is technically a glorified cafe and brunch spot with an amazing pastry selection. Grab a delicious granola bowl and split the chocolate banana brioche with someone who is good at sharing!

3. Mandy's - Vibrant salads are packed with superfood ingredients and millennial staples like avocados in extra-large and colorful china bowls. The location in Old Montreal has french bistro vibes with accents of palm trees and millennial pink. On your way out you can grab one of Mandy's signature china salad bowls, re-useable water bottles, compartes chocolate bars, kale chips, fresh pressed juice and other perfectly branded souvenirs.

Montreal Bagels:
Photo: St. Viateur
1. St-Viateur Bagel Shop - If you do this right, you should be visiting the iconic and longstanding bagel shop and not the bagel cafe. Grab your bagels and cream cheese to go + eat them at a coffee shop around the corner called Felice.

2. Fairmount Bagel - Fairmount is the rival to St-Viateur and makes another well-known and delicious Montreal bagel.

Montreal's Infamous Smoked Meat:
Photo: Yelp
1. Schwartz’s Deli - This is Montreal's most famous deli and home to some of 'Canada's best smoked meat.' You can sit down for the full menu in the original location or pick up sandwiches at the to-go shop next door. Make sure to try the delicious mustard on top of whatever you order.

2. Lester’s Deli - Lester's is the other smoked meat deli in town that is competitively as delicious as Schwartz but loses the edge on history and iconic-ness (read: a bit less touristy and shorter waits)

Poutine:
Photo: Hashtag Voyage
Poutine is gravy, cheese curds, and fries. It sounds and looks gross, but tastes great. You MUST try for yourself to believe it. 

1. La Banquise - La Banquise has over 30 variations of poutine, one of Canada's most treasured dishes.

2. Poutineville - Poutineville gives you the option to build your own poutine dishes with luxe toppings


Caffeine:
Photo: L'Actualitie
1. Crew Collective - The Business Development bank of Canada turned a grand and opulent unused-bank into a shared working space where you can grab coffee or book a working space or conference rooms.

2. Tommy Café + Apero - The two story coffee shop sits in a gorgeous historical building in Old Montreal and has an great selection of coffee, sweets, and sandwiches.

Drinks:
Photo: Bar Darling via Taset
1. Bar Darling - Eclectic vintage decor and indoor greenery make Darling the perfect backdrop for drinks over a shared cheese plate. 

2. Bar Henrietta - Bar Henrietta is a cozy hangout with romantic lighthing, great cocktails, and upscale bar snacks. Stop here if you want to fit in with the locals or need to fill time before a late reservation.

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