Montréal, Canada

  • Visited October 2018

Well ladies and gentlemen, Montréal is what I call a ‘grower’. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight, but spend a few days here and Montréal gets under your skin and into your heart, especially if you are an arts and culture junkie like me.

Architecturally Montréal is a mish mash of styles. Old Montréal and the Old Port area is predictably lovely to look at and stroll around but the real Montréal is to be found in areas like the Plateau (official name Le Plateau Mont-Royal) which has lots of character. You can practically hear the Arcade Fire (the band originated here) soundtrack pulsing as you walk the streets. Look out for quirky boutiques, hip bars/restaurants and phenomenal street art murals visually representing this city’s creative vibes and free spirit.

A real highlight for me was visiting the Notre-Dame Basilica. I always enjoy visiting religious buildings for their architecture and iconography but the interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica is absolutely stunning. It also photographs beautifully and I really enjoyed capturing this venue. It costs $6 entry which must be paid in cash and you may find a long queue to get in when you go along, but it is well-worth any wait.

Being a fan of modern and contemporary art I was disappointed to find that The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – situated within the the Place des festivals in the Quartier des spectacles, part of the Place des Arts complex  – is currently closed as the museum is preparing for upcoming exhibits. It is due to re-open October 19th. I was, however, fortunate to catch the contemporary ballet ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, performed by Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montréal, at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Place des Arts. It’s a good venue (I paid for the cheapest ticket in the upper mezzanine and had a great view) and the ballet itself was fantastic.

My hostel was located in the lively area of Quartier Latin, part of the Quartier des Spectacles, which is known as a student-friendly neighborhood with vibrant nightlife. Rue Saint-Denis is full of bars and restaurants and also has an Odeon cinema – I caught a showing of the latest Mission Impossible movie here. Some films are shown in their original English versions as well as dubbed in French so double check when you buy your ticket. I accidentally watched the French version of ‘Mission Impossible: Fall Out’ but luckily my French was good enough to get the gist of the action ha ha. Rookie error.

Another notable feature of Montréal is the RÉSO (also known as The Underground City), an underground network of interconnected malls, hostels etc. It is the largest underground complex in the world and a great place to escape the cold Canadian winters.

Selection of pictures from my stay: