The A-Z of Montreal or 26 reasons to visit.

My first port of call when visiting a new city is to visit the tallest building that I can so I headed to Au Sommet in Place Ville De Marie in Down Town Montreal. By the time I had reached the building the falling snow was heavy so I knew that visibility would be poor.  Instead I  headed to the Bar on the 44th floor and Je Suis Enfant Terrible did not disappoint. With  nearly a 360 view, high bar stools and super friendly staff I found myself returning the next day for another look and drink and so glad I did. You don’t need to pay the entrance fee for the observation deck, merely buy a drink and a meal and just take in that incredible ambience.

Christ Church Cathedral on St Catherines is definitely worth a visit and looks almost out of place amongst shiny department stores. It’s right next door to the Hudson Bay Company which to me conjures up polar bears, fishing boats cutting through ice, seals and trading posts….. you know one of those places that you can almost get anything and still the same today.

If you like walking and a little climbing, then you will love seeing the  Down town Domes and the Business District from Mount Royal, fab views over the city.img_8210

English is spoken but we found that most people address you in French first but are happy to swap to English if need be. Which brings me to how friendly everyone is, whether sitting at a bar, getting lost in the underground city or being served in a shop, they are a great bunch of people the Montrealians………. is that the correct term?

Gare Centrale was my favourite part of the underground city, a plethora of eateries and and an unusual wooden gift shop with Pinnochio waiting to greet you on a wooden bench…very cool.

Loved the cute quaint houses in Old Montreal and Le Plataeu, they reminded me very much of Boston brownstones. I walked from Places Des Armes to Mount Royal and loved the squares and residences through these neighbourhoods. Had to be careful on the ice but the authorities are always shifting and clearing it on sidewalks and streets so there was no need to worry. They do a grand job.

Love love love Je Suis Enfants Terrible, the bar on the 44th floor of Au Sommet, with the spectacular views across the city and even across St Lawrence river on a clear day. Still on the subject of food and drink Keg serves up some great food. Love the garlic mash and I have even tried to replicate this at home………not as good as Keg’s though. Enjoyed their feature dish on New Year’s Eve of steak, prawns and escalopes.

Love  the statues of three ladies gossiping in Old Montreal, didn’t find out what they represented, would love to know?img_5872

Mount Royal has to be climbed albeit a bit difficult on a snowy day. I was greeted by a tall statue and great views over  downtown. You have to see the name sake of the city.

img_5687Notre Dame Basilica right on Place des Armes was probably my favourite church to visit, the grand alter area is lit with blues and golds and makes a great photo. Five Canadian dollars to enter but cash well spent.  You can then do a horse and carriage ride round the old city on the cobbles and get to see the basilica from all angles. Another form of transport is  the metro and it  is easy to navigate. I used it to get to the Olympic Park and another tall building, this time the Olympic tower which I ascended by funicular and had a great view on the eastern side of the city down to the river.

My Canadian friends insisted I try poutine a Canadian treat I understand…… not sure I agree but perhaps my English taste buds did not appreciate the mix of chips, cheese and gravy but never mind when in Montreal and all that……. Still on the subject of food, a  Quebecois breakfast at Hotel Place des Armes is immense, will fill you for the day and then some!IMG_5747.JPG

Roasting by the fire in Hotel Place des Armes bedrooms, so great to come back to after a day exploring in the snow and minus chill factor! All that snow makes a girl cold. Snow in the wintertime makes Old Montreal look like a series of Christmas card views and a novelty for us Englishers from the south coast. And if you need to escape from the cold try a beer at the Taverne Dominion a quaint old fashioned bar on Metcalfe, all gold, mirrors and marble.

In the winter Montreal is cold and I mean really cold, so the underground city once you have learned how to navigate it allows you to cross Downtown in the warm. You get to wander long wide corridors and then emerge through a shopping area or train station. I was impressed!

Vieux Montreal – OK I’m struggling here but the correct name of old Montreal! Where you can while away a few hours looking in the beautifully decorated and dressed windows after enjoying breakfast or lunch at Xavier Artisan very urban, very chilled and very nice filled rolls and coffee. Yes I’d return in a heartbeat if only to find an example for Z! (unless you know one of course!)

 

 

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