This is Montreal

Posted by on Jun 24, 2017

Taken from the top of the Clock Tower in Old Montreal (192 steps, with the last 52 straight up in a tiny spiral staircase, not for the feint of heart, or if you have vertigo!).

It had been over ten years since I visited La Belle Province and I took the opportunity to go on a short work/vacation weekend to reacquaint myself with the City of Montreal. Kathryn Johnson, who owns Boutique Nanuk, approached me to represent my jewellery line in her beautiful gallery located right in the heart of Old Montreal, at the corner of place Jacques Cartier and rue Saint- Paul E. I decided that her first order deserved to be hand-delivered instead of shipped.

Boutique Nanuk located at 158 rue Saint-Paul E – a lovely location at the corner of place Jacques Cartier. You’ll notice the quaint old cobblestone street in front of her shop. Most of Old Montreal has cobblestone streets, a visual indication that you are entering “Old Montreal”.

I have to say, I just LOVE Montreal. I think it’s about the closest you can get to feeling like you are in Paris, France without the hassle of dealing with borders, long travel times, currency exchange, or thinking you need a crash course in French. The Montreal locals pretty much all speak both official languages, and one of the most charming things about walking their streets is to hear the combination – equally – of French and English. You can also hear many other languages from around the world. It is a very cosmopolitan city.

Sample section of my jewellery display case from Boutique Nanuk Gallery.

Montreal is also a very walkable city. And extremely bicycle friendly, with bike lanes on almost every downtown street. They have the Bixi Bicycle system in Montreal and the rental stands seem to be everywhere.

In background, Dunn’s Famous Smoked Meat Diner, established 1927 – Open 24 hours, several locations around the city. This one is on rue Metcalfe. In the foreground is one of the many Bixi bike rental stations.

Hungry? From Montreal’s world famous bagel shops and unique smoked meat diners, local beer brewing pubs, french patisseries, Depanneurs, Cafes, and world cuisine restaurant offerings, Montreal is a complete culinary experience as well.

Sampling of the places we visited. I would highly recommend Maison Christian Faure. The best croissants I have EVER tasted.

One of the food highlights of the trip was discovering Maison Christian Faure. Chef Faure trained in France, then moved to Montreal to live and work. He is one of the most highly decorated (no pun intended) pastry chefs in the world. His beautiful shop in Old Montreal on rue Place Royale, offers eat in, take out, amazing weekend brunch, and you can even take pastry classes!

And the Galleries! Oh my goodness, so much to see. Too much for one weekend trip. This time we chose to go to the Musee des Beaux-arts to see the Chagall “Colour and Music” Exhibit and the Jean-Paul Gaultier “Love is Love” Exhibit. Then it was on to the McCord Museum to see the Aislin Cartoonist Exhibition, the Illusions and Expo 67 Exhibits. And rue Saint-Paul in Old Montreal is THE “gallery” street. Contemporary, modern, abstract, Inuit Sculpture and prints: you name it, they have it. Like the rest of the city, Old Montreal is home to numerous public art installations.

Here is an image of my favourite public art installation that I stumbled across in Old Montreal. You’ll find it on rue Saint-Paul E. I believe it is called “Les Chuchoteuses”. In English, this means “The Whisperers”.

We stayed at Place Bonaventure Hotel, located right across the street from the Gare Central (main train station in downtown Montreal). I chose this location for several reasons; we took the train, we decided to walk everywhere we went, and it is equal distance to Old Montreal in one direction and the Museums in the opposite direction. They have a beautiful outdoor pool, every room includes a coffee maker, empty bar fridge, free wifi and the unique ability to open a window! The rooms have the most comfortable beds and you can choose a room with windows onto an interior courtyard garden, or you can have a city view.

Outdoor heated pool at Place Bonaventure Hotel, open from 6:30 am – 10:30 pm daily, 365 days a year! Great way to rest and relax tired achy feet/body after walking about 15 km/day.

If you are looking to take a holiday, I would highly recommend Montreal. If you fly it’s only about an hour’s flight time. If you take the train, it’s a little over five hours, but is a great way to see the countryside. You can also drive, but judging by the traffic we encountered, Montreal has the same congestion and construction woes as Toronto. Any way you choose to get there, the city of Montreal, which is celebrating it’s 375th birthday this year, offers a wonderful variety of things to see and do.