Montréal, Canada is a magical place that oozes culture, style and endless opportunities to try new experiences. You get to speak a little French, drive through century-old cobblestone streets lined with New York-style townhomes, stroll neighbourhoods peppered with foliage-laden parks, shop high-fashion boutiques and feast at quaint dining spots. Unlike most cities in Canada, you can pick up a handful of beers from a Dépaneur or Dep (convenience store) and head to the nearest park with a basket of locally-sourced and produced cheese, meat and bread for a picnic. Hear the unmistakable sound of a cold can of beer opening or the clinking of wine glasses cheersing? No one bats an eye. In most Canadian cities, indulging in an alcoholic beverage in a public space will land you up with a ticket. The vibe is similar to what you might experience in France or Italy but with the legendary friendly Canadian people.
We've put together our top to-do recommendations to steer your soon-to-be love affair with Montréal in the right direction.
When in Montréal, you need a car that is compact, versatile and stylish. The 2018 Ford Eco-Sport has this and more. With 1.0L auto start-stop technology, loads of ground clearance and an 8-inch Touchscreen with voice-activated Nav and SYNC® 3 with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ compatibility, all you need is a few friends and an appetite for adventure. We loved the head-turning Blue Candy paint job and the spirited pep and handling. The winters in Montréal wreak havoc on the roads, so you've got to be ready and poised to dodge potholes and uneven road surfaces. Our front wheel drive model made easy work of the roads and looked great when pulling up at Saint-Laurent park for a picnic. Being new in town, we were able to easily figure out the navigation system in order to find our way to and from our destination. It is good to know that the car comes with block heaters for cold winters and that the safety features will keep you safe when unexpected situations occur. Starting at just over 20K, makes this vehicle a great option for those looking for a more exciting compact SUV experience.
Hotel Monville is located in the International Quarter, between Old Montréal and the Business Center, making it a perfect home base for those looking to be steps from great food, sights and sounds. The recently-opened hotel has a modern contemporary design and feel that is fully immersed in digital technology. An automated check-in kiosk makes the move to your room quick and easy (there are staff on hand as well), and once in the room, you will notice the attention to sleep has been made a priority. The beds are AMAZING! The mattress is the right amount of firm with the pillows and blankets being soft and fresh. The entertainment center can be used as a hub to Netflix and chill, stream from your devices, order your car from the valet and have fresh, locally-sourced food delivered to your door by a robot. Yes, a robot. Developed by the California firm Savioke, this playful addition the Hotel Monville team offers a glimpse into the future. With reasonably priced rooms, a 24/7 access gym complete with all the newest workout equipment and a rooftop deck with city views that frequently hosts group yoga sessions, you can't go wrong making Hotel Monville your go to home base while in town. Photos courtesy of Hotel Monville.
We parked the car and went in search places that stand out in the Mile End district of Montréal.
The Green Panther (La Panthère Verte): Besides having the best falafel in town, The Green Panther is the model of sustainability. Local, organic and waste free, this spot offers everything that would make the world a better place!
Chocolates Geneviève Grandbois: The self-named chocolatier began her passion with chocolate at the tender age of 20 and hasn't looked back since. Her chocolate creations are known around the globe and have garnered respect in a industry with a perfectionist industry. You simply must try the salted caramel or a chunk or the dark chocolate with a glass of red. Sinfully delicious.
St-Viateur Bagels: There are two camps in Montreal - the St-Viateur Bagels and Fairmount Bagels. Both spots offer handmade bagels cooked in a wood oven fire to the tune of one thousand dozen a day. For us, St-Viateur came out on top, simply because of the epic-signed William Shatner photo on the wall and we liked the chewy texture the most. The history behind St-Viateur is very cool as well. If you get a chance, get a fresh hot sesame seed bagel and a square of cream cheese from both spots and decide for yourself, but try not to slip on the sesame seeds!
Drogheria Fine: Located on Fairmount Street, with legendary Kem Coba Ice Cream on one side and Fairmount Bagels on the other, this small nook offers up mouthwatering gnocchi in Chinese style take out containers. There is premium handmade olive oil and tomato sauce available to purchase as well. At only five bucks you get unparalleled fresh delicious pasta at take out price.
We recommend reaching out to the folks at Local Food Tours to either book your own tour or check out their recommendations through social media @localmontrealtours #localfoodtours. The fine folks at Local Food Tours know Montreal better than anyone and always have the inside scoop on new culinary offerings as well as the tried-and-true legendary spots.