This summer, my boyfriend and I set out on a cross-Canada road trip and have been gone for over six weeks now. Despite the extensive travelling, our home base has been Montreal. I used to travel to Montreal a few times a year for work and always loved it. But for those of you who have experienced business travel, you know that the airport, the hotel, the venue, and maybe a couple of restaurants, are usually the only things you get to see. So when the opportunity arose to spend an extended period of time in the city, we jumped at the chance!
Montreal is a culturally rich city that oozes creativity and art, with an European charm that boasts amazing food, nightlight and some of the best festivals around. Here are some of my favourite spots from my trip thus far.
Things to Do
Oka Beach, 2020 Chemin d’Oka, Oka National Park
We spent a beautiful day at Oka Beach, which is about a 30-minute drive from Montreal. Offering water activities, playgrounds, picnic areas, hiking and cycling trails, Oka Beach is a great destination for sunbathing and swimming. The only downside is that it’s part of a national park so you need to pay to get it.
The Tam Tams, Mount Royal Park
The Tam Tams is a free festival that takes place every Sunday around the Sir George-Étienne Cartier monument and extends to the surrounding lawns of Mount Royal Park. The festival hosts a swarm of drummers, dancers and vendors. As an onlooker, get ready to enjoy the sun, sights and sounds and be sure to bring your own drum if you want to join in!
Photo via @jackaimelevin
Jean-Talon Market, 7070 Henri-Julien Avenue
Jean-Talon Market is located in the heart of Little Italy and is one of the oldest public markets in Montreal. Jean-Talon hosts a variety of vendors that sell fruits and vegetables, cheese, pastries and a wide selection of meats and fish — just to name a few. If you’re a foodie, this is heaven. Make sure to go hungry!
There are so many great neighbourhoods in Montreal that we’ve spent the majority of our time walking around and exploring. Here are a few of my favourite neighbourhoods: The Plateau, Mile End, Little Italy, Rosemont, Downtown, Saint-Laurent, Old Montreal and The Gay Village.
Where to Eat
Dirty Dogs, 25 Mont Royal East
The best poutine we’ve had so far. The bacon mac & cheese poutine is to die for.
La Croissanterie Figaro, 5200 Rue Hutchison
We’ve eaten a lot of croissants since arriving in Montreal but the best so far is from La Croissanterie Figaro located at the edge of the Mile End and Outermont neighbourhoods. We sat on their patio with coffees and a couple of croissants – it was like being in Paris.
Dinette Triple Crown, 6704 Rue Crown
Dinette Triple Crown is an American BBQ restaurant in Little Italy that serves its meals in fully equipped picnic baskets that you take to the park across the street to eat. Amazing right? Despite this novelty, the food is spectacular with the fried chicken stealing the show.
La Binerie, 367 Rue Mont Royal
La Binerie is a greasy spoon, counter-style restaurant that specializes in traditional Quebec cuisine and its signature baked beans. If you’re looking for a delicious breakfast joint, this is the place.
Where to Shop
Simons is a Quebec-based retailer that specializes in stylish women’s and men’s clothing, accessories and home décor. Simons is one of my boyfriend’s favourite stores. We visited the massive downtown location, I was impressed by the wide selection and reasonable prices. For $50, I was able to purchase a lace dress and a black tank top.
Ethik, 6050 Rue Saint Hubert
I came across Ethik while perusing the Rosemont neighbourhood of Montreal. It’s a women’s boutique that promotes ethical fashion and sustainable development practices within the textile industry. It carries designers who create their accessories and fashion garments in a socially and ecologically responsible way. Ethik also offers a thrift section, which is where I found two summer dresses for only $20!
Jeans Jeans Jeans, 5575 Casgrain Avenue
Jeans Jeans Jeans specializes in denim and prides itself on finding its customers the perfect pair of jeans. Upon walking into the store, an employee came up to me and asked what I was looking for. After telling her, she correctly guessed my size and took me around the store selecting items for me. It was like having my own personal shopper! Jeans Jeans Jeans also offers on-the-spot hemming. I walked out of there with a cute pair of denim shorts, which I’ve basically been living in ever since.
Tchango’s, 227 St. Viateur West
Tchango’s is a women’s jewellery and clothing store, which my boyfriend and I happened upon while strolling around the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. Featuring several Quebec artists and artisans who create their products by hand, I purchased a beautiful turquoise ring, a cute sundress, and a graphic tank for only $60. The owner, Sergio Anelli, is also a delight – I’d go back just to see him!
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