Eat, Sleep, Play: Montreal

By Erin MacNeil - 11:40

It's kind of amazing the amount of stuff you can cram into a few days in a new place. And it's not just meh stuff, often times the activities and places you visit are fantastic things. It's a bit overwhelming at first, sometimes I can't even think of what I did when I'm asked. But, it all comes back to you, and there are things you just have to share. Like this stuff in Montreal.

For my four nights in Montreal I stayed in a hostel called the Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal (or Auberge Alternative du Vieux-Montreal en Français). Now, I love historic areas of cities. In fact, I prefer those areas. So, finding a hostel in Old Montreal was perfect. Alternative Hostel was perfectly placed for where I wanted to be in the city, and it wasn't too far out of the way of other areas of Montreal. The rooms are really spacious, and the bathrooms areas are fantastic. Plus, there really is a cool vibe to the hostel: they've got local artists displayed! It's a pretty cute place.

Admittedly, I ate poorly in Montreal. It wasn't often, and it wasn't really eating to look after myself, it was usually eating because you're supposed to eat. That said, I did find some good spots. For a regular lunch-type meal, I think I would have to first recommend Cafe Espace. They have paninis and wraps, mostly, with some salads and soups. I had a kick-ass Chicken Club panini from them and a pasta salad - so yummy. Seriously, it was fantastic. The space is really modern and cute, the menu is in French and English, and it's in a great location in the Old Port. Plus, everyone working there who I encountered was super friendly and helpful. Can't get much better than that, can you?

I live in a small town in Nova Scotia where the pastries are... Sad. So, when I travel, I like to find some good pastry. And who better to make a croissant than the French? I sought out a croissant that I could remember forever and I found one on my last night in Montreal. Maison Christian Faure is impressive. Their pastries all look phenomenal, and, lemme say, their croissants are amazing. They've got three shops in Montreal, too, which is super handy.

I love to find some green space in cities, especially larger cities like Montreal. It's nice to see a bit of nature in your city adventures, you know? So, my first recommendation is to make the trek up Mount Royal. Mount Royal has wooded walking (or biking) paths and trails, and a huge staircase, all of which take you to the top of the mountain. At the top is a chalet, and an observation deck where you can see an amazing view of downtown Montreal. It's a gorgeous place to spend a few hours, plus you get some exercise, you get away from the city a bit, and it feels more authentic and less like a tourist destination (despite your fellow tourists).

The pursuit of green space could also take you to the Old Port. You can alternate between walking along the St. Lawrence River and walking in the little parks just across the street. I spent a few hours of my last morning in Montreal reading in there, it's quite lovely! And it's actually pretty peaceful, the traffic is minimal and the people around are relaxed, rather than in work-mode. I also really liked the Promenade du Vieux-Port for the views. It's not high in altitude, but you get a really lovely view of the Old City, and you can see across the river to the Expo 67 grounds, and you can still see some of the pavilions. Plus, what can I say? I'm a Maritimer, I like me some water. It's very peaceful. But, yes, do the Old Port area.

In addition to choosing travel destinations that feel right, I also choose destinations based on architecture. If I can do a search of a city and find a beautiful building I am more likely to visit, quite honestly. For that reason, I really recommend taking a stroll in the Old City area. On Rue St Jacques you can find the beautiful Bank of Montreal Head Office, from there you can see Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal which is lovely on the outside and exquisite on the inside (go inside, it's only $6!). If you follow Rue Notre-Dame you'll come across the Montreal City Hall; take a right down Place Jacques-Cartier, then a left and you'll find the Marche Bonsecours and the Notre Dame de Bon Secours Chapel. There is so much architecture to find in Montreal, and I really recommend taking a look.

There are, of course, some really gorgeous examples of architecture in the downtown area, too, but I did prefer the Old City and spent more time there.

Those are my big recommendations for Montreal. There are, of course, tons of different things that you can do, and so many different areas for different interests. There are great museums and galleries, shopping areas, club areas. There's something for anyone.

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