72 hours in Montreal
With it’s European sensibilities and architecture but American influences, Montreal is the ideal weekend getaway for visitors from the U.S. Take the best of a vacation to Europe and combine it with the ease of no language barrier, direct flights from most major US cities, the value of the dollar, and the hospitality of the Canadians (who will win your heart) make this the ideal vacation getaway. My first ever foray to Canada and I was tasked with spending 72 hours in this city that I knew nothing about. I spent my time wisely and will always have fond memories.
First and foremost, I was struck by the lack of high rises, the cleanliness, the similarities of my hometown DC, and most importantly how polite everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) we encountered was. After 72 hours I came away with the major takeaway that Canadian people (even city dwellers) are genuinely happy and optimistic people. We actually made friends with strangers, taxi and uber drivers, waitresses, and bartenders. The locals truly wanted to engage with you and were eager to make conversation. I emphasize this because that typically doesn’t happen in major Metropolitan cities here in the U.S. So not only do you have wonderful people but you have this incredible city with all it’s great neighborhoods and green spaces at your disposal.
I knew the food scene would be good because of it’s French roots but I took for granted the emphasis on sourcing fresh local ingredients all within an hour of the city. Heck we even went to a restaurant that ONLY uses locally sourced ingredients (they don’t even offer salt because there is no local purveyor). So this is a serious town for people that love to eat and drink, in fact I believe there are close to 6000 restaurants as we speak. I learned about the diversity in food reflected by the different neighborhoods via foot and two wheels. I had the best Salvadoran pupusa of my life, went to the most incredible farmers market (a real deal market not a high price hipster market) drank locally made micro brews, had the best bagel of my life (sorry NYC) and made so many new friends along the way.
This is a place that not only will I visit more often, but a place where I could see myself living…the Canadians know how to live and enjoy life! Anyone who loves just exploring different neighborhoods, the arts, music, food, shopping, museums, green spaces (there are countless parks, community gardens, green alleys) and street art.
- Excellent public transportation (the metro system is easy to navigate, clean, and will take you everywhere you need to be. There are also plenty of buses, ubers and taxis
- Great walking city (walk along the waterfront in Old Montreal)
- Even better biking city, I was amazed cars actually stopped for us and wouldn’t try to pass or honk their horns (take a bike tour with spade and palacio)
- Weather is mild and not at all what you think of Canada. Visit in the spring, summer and fall. Avoid December through April. (we were there in August and the weather was perfect)
- The dollar is very strong right now. European look and feel without the price tag (decent hotels can be had for $200 to $300 a night and you can’t do that in NYC or Paris)
- Canadians are the friendliest people, get to know them yourself and you will see what I mean
Lay your head at:
- Le St.Sulpice or the Gault if you love boutique hotels, if you prefer luxury check out the Ritz Carlton
Drink microbrews at:
- Vice a Versa and Alexanderplatz (go when they are having a street party which is every other weekend)
For your fill of carbs:
- La Fabrique Arhoma (the French don’t joke around when it comes to bread, every boulangerie we visited makes ALL of their stuff on premises)
- Fit for foodies, the chefs here are cutting edge using only the best ingredients and focusing on new trends (foraging) that we here in the U.S haven’t even fully embraced. Try Candide for all
- local cuisine in an old church, Foxy if you want a respite from poutine and foi grois, DTC if you are jonesing for the best fried chicken and hush puppies north of the mason Dixon, and Joe
- Beef if you want to dine where the stars do (a bit overrated IMHO)