Montreal for me just feels quintessential Canadian. The combination of a very old and at the same time very modern city, the inspiring culture of the French English Canadian mixture and the way the extreme weather conditions influence the way of moving, building and living here create an awesome, colorful place.
Getting around: The best way to get around is by metro and general public transport, it’s cheap and easy to use. It’s also nice to walk, as a big part of the city is designed in a geometric street pattern which makes orientation fairly easy. Because temperatures in winter get so freezing cold that it becomes almost intolerable to walk outside, you can easily get around in the RÉSO (La Ville Souterraine). This underground city connecting malls, metro stations, museums and many more public places is unique to Montreal.
Old Montreal: The church Notre-Dame de Montreal is a must-see, the interior and architecture are truly special. It’s located in Old Montreal, the historic part of the city at the riverfront, where you can stroll around the narrow cobblestone streets. From here you can see the cubic building Habitat 67 across the river, it’s a residential house and a great piece of modern architecture. Check out the PHI Center on rue Saint-Pierre and Fondation Phi around the corner on rue Saint Jean to see an art installation, a movie or concert, or find some local design and fashion pieces in its shop Le Rhinocéros. Also close by you find Tommy, an inviting and cosy cafe for a break. If you’re looking for a very cool men’s fashion store go to Michel Brisson.
Ville Marie: This district is the centre of the city, where you find the main cultural spots like the Place des Arts. Here you can enjoy lots and loft of concerts, performance art, dance and exhibitions. The Musee d’art contemporain is also located here. It has a great art collection and exhibitions, as well as the lovely Musee des beaux-arts. Another cultural gem is the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which combines a historic building with a new modern complex and creates very interesting exhibitions. Montreals Chinatwown around Rue de la Gauchetière is where you find good Asian restaurants and quirky shops. Rue Saint Catherine is the main shopping street. Here, you find most big shops, like the department stores La Baie d’Hudson, Ogilvy, influence U and also cinemas and theaters. The famous Victorian-style houses around Saint-Louis Square demonstrate the typical, historic architecture of Montreal. Also typical for the city is its creative graffiti and street art, that is fun to explore on a little tour. In summer, a nice spot to hang out is Jardins Gamelin at place Emilie-Gamelin. The Parc du Mont-Royal is beautiful all year round and from the top you have great views of the city. Of course when in Montreal you have to eat Poutine and the first place that comes to mind is La Banquise, where people wait outside for a table as long as it takes, even in freezing temperatures and at night, because the place is open 24 hours a day. Another delicious central spot with good food and coffee is Cafe Parvis, then there is sweet cafe Pikolo, or go to the stylish French bistro Foiegwa.
Le Plateau Mont-Royal: Boulevard Saint-Laurent and rue Saint-Urban are the two big streets where you find lots of stylish shops and cafes in this area. Once an industrial, unrelated neighborhood, like the adjacent Mile End, it’s now a popular place with a strong hipster vibe. Here you find the lovely Jean Talon Market and typical colorful streets like rue Drolet, of course you have to try the best, classic bagels from St. Viateur Bagels. But you can also drink quality coffee at Cafe Melbourne, Cafe Brooklyn, Le Falco or Saint Henri. For food go to the fabulous, nostalgic diner Beauty’s or cafe Le Butterblume. Admire the dramatic storefront of flower shop Dragon Flowers and find interior inspiration at Style Labo. Music lovers should go to La Fin du Vinyle which is right next to the lovely old deli Lalime. You can also check out Never Apart for parties and art events.