My favourite places in Montreal

I’ve literally been harassing my friends TO DEATH via text messages and Facebook chat about coming to visit me in Montreal. I kinda feel like everyone overlooks this city for Toronto or Vancouver…both of which are great, but SO DIFFERENT.

So when my cousin April visited me in Montreal a few weekends ago after not having been here for 10 years, I subjected her to hours upon hours of walking around town and seeing all my favourite spots. I felt like a local. April felt like her legs were going to fall off, but all that matters is that I showed her Montreal.

Some of it.

1. St-Laurent and St-Denis

When April and I arrived back in Montreal after Ottawa, we discovered St-Laurent (my street) in an uproar of celebrations for Grand Prix.

The whole area was roped off and crammed with people. Restaurants and cafes and bars had extended their terasses into the street, vendors were selling cheap ass food ($2 Pad Thai!), and the booze was flowing freely.

On Monday, the stages came down and the street reopened to traffic again.

And THEN on Thursday, I woke up to the sounds of drilling and construction workers singing and loud claps of wood being tossed around, and discovered MORE terasses being set up. Again. For another street fair. Seriously. Like, three days later.

St-Denis at night, looking quieter than usual. Probably cuz it’s Monday.

Party here, and on St-Denis. There’s a friggen festival every week and even when there’s not, these streets are BUSY. Check out my Matador Network article on Where to party in Montreal for more deets.

2. Vieux-Montreal

The Old Port is hands-down the most attractive area in Montreal, with cobblestone streets, massive stone buildings and cathedrals (including Notre Dame Basilica), and sexy views of the St. Lawrence River. Wander down the alleyway called Rue Des Artistes and you’ll get to watch painters in action. Sit by the square and watch knife jugglers and sword swallowers.

But the fun stuff happens at night, as most things do in Montreal. Try the view from atop Taverne Gaspar, where you get to see the city all lit up…including the white tents of Cirque du Soleil, and the facade of Town Hall.

Here, Montreal can get eccentric. Walking through this area on Saturday, several old men zipped by on glow-in-the-dark bikes, lit up with flashing lights. Playing techno music. I’m not kidding.

I’m a sucker for a good rooftop bar

Contrast this with the massive white horses hauling buggies filled with rich tourists.

Finally: check out the insane fountain shooting jets of water into the air in sync with the most epic orchestra music you’ve ever heard. It’ll make you want to scream, “THIS IS SPARTA!” and throw a sword at someone.

3. Saint Catherine & The Village

During the summer, most of Saint Catherine Street shuts down to become pedestrian-only. It’s one of the prettiest streets in the city for sure: The Village is famous for Les Boules Roses, its pink balls strung across the tops of buildings.

Rooftop patios, terasses, street art, and endless rows of restaurants and clubs also make it one of the FUNNEST streets in the city. I’m allowed to use FUNNEST, so shut up.


Let out those pants because you’re gonna eat your face off in Montreal. It’s impossible not to.

There’s the legendary La Banquisse for 24HR poutine, St-Viateur for bagels, Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwiches, and EVERYWHERE IN BETWEEN. Personally, my favourite poutine experiences have been at two newly opened restaurants: Poutine En Folie on St-Laurent, and Mache! on St-Denis. $6 will get you a fab meal.

Don’t hesitate to try new foods outside the legendary spots, either. Montrealers tend to get freakishly passionate about their favourite eats, and I’ll probably get stabbed for saying I love Poutine En Folie.

5. Parc du Mont-Royal

Seeing as how Montreal is named after Mount Royal, the large hill in the middle of the city, you owe it to yourself to check out the park. Come on Sunday for TamTams (more on that later), or start from the George-Étienne-Cartier monument and hike your way to the very top. Takes about an hour, and you’re treated to one kickass view of the city. SO LOVELY.

Montreal from the summit of Mont-Royal

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the city yet, and I haven’t even been to the markets…but definitely check out these places if you’re visiting. DO IT NOW.

  • June 18 2012

    Great photos Candice. I especially love the one form the summit of Mount-Royal. I’ve never been to Montreal – or Canada for that matter – but it’s on the bucket list. My Canadian friend used to make us poutine when we lived in South Korea – can’t wait to try it again! Mmmmmmmm

    • July 04 2012

      Quebec poutine is the BEST! Put Montreal on your bucket list immediately!

  • June 18 2012

    Bookmarked, ready for my upcoming weekend trip!
    LOVE the look of Saint Catherine Street – so pretty!

    • July 04 2012

      Oooh, when is your upcoming weekend?!

  • June 18 2012

    I want to visit here! I love the places you have highlighted.

    • July 04 2012

      Come now while I still have an apartment! Lol

  • June 18 2012

    I’m seriously obsessed with this city!!! lived there for 5 months while studying abroad and can’t wait to go back!

    Also in St.Catherine west you can eat and drink 4 liter beer for about 15 bucks at the Sports Stations Bar…definitely the go-to place if you have little money, love beer and sports ;)

    • July 04 2012

      Hahaha, I’m glad someone else can admit to the obsession too. ;) I’ve seen the Sports Station Bar and never stopped in, will do!

  • June 19 2012

    Ooh I love Montreal! Only went once for a weekend (Jazz fest). If I come up soon, I’ll look you up, great post!

  • June 19 2012

    Only been there once, briefly, but I loved Vieux-Montreal, the music scene and the comedy scene there. However, I do find French-Canadians to be an odd bunch, and I say that having a French-Canadian maternal grandfather (my mom’s maiden name was Beaudet).

    • July 04 2012

      There’s no denying that one. ;) Their sense of identify is fierce, but I love them for it

  • June 19 2012

    Hey. there is an awesome place La Concession at 75 Notre Dame oust street. Ms. Cai and her daughter as so lovely, and the food there was so delicious. We had breakfast, and lunch there, DELISH! A must place to visit in Montreal. Also, Restaurant Gandhi on 230, Rue St.-Paul Ouest is hands down great Indian cuisine in Montreal too!

    • July 04 2012

      I will definitely be checking those out. Thanks!

  • June 19 2012

    Have you done the drum circle yet? You must go!

  • June 20 2012

    The whole city of Montreal is wonderful, I love that French + Canadian feeling about it as well as the beautiful buildings, the parks and even the people, although have had some unpleasant experiences with the latter…

    • July 04 2012

      Hahaha, I think everyone has. Seems to be the French way. ;)

  • June 21 2012

    If you like beer (!) you should go to Dieu du Ciel! It’s a microbrewery on Laurier, near St-Laurent. You might just have to crawl home afterwards.

    Duluth right off St-Denis is FULL of BYOB restaurants. If you like Afghan food you might want to try Khyber Pass.

    Great post!

    • June 22 2012

      Just read on Matador that you’ve already been to Dieu du Ciel. Gotta love that place!

  • June 21 2012

    I’m a sucker for good railings / guard-rails on a rooftop bar.

  • June 21 2012

    Ahhhh I need to go back now that you’re there! I went to Montreal last year with Cirque. We had the best time but didn’t get to visit any of these places!

  • June 22 2012

    Especially jealous of your new home-base this weekend. Happy St Jean de Baptiste!

  • June 25 2012

    Candice! I miss the former colourful banner it reflects your crazy and wild side!

    • July 04 2012

      It had to go! It wasn’t even really mine! Lol

    • July 11 2012

      I miss it too Candice! Great article as usual :)

      • July 13 2012

        Didn’t even know you lived here! Awesome!

  • June 25 2012

    I’m bookmarking this post for when I finally get to Montreal – hopefully by the end of the summer, or at the very least by the end of the year.

    Snazzy site redesign too.

    • July 04 2012

      Thank ya! I’m quite happy with it

  • June 27 2012

    I can understand your love of Montreal. This really is a city to be discovered. I was there often, but there is something new to see everytime I come. Last year I stayed in Old Montreal in the Maison Pierre du Calvet, which is, I believe, the oldest building in the city. Quite an experience! And I’ll bookmark your list for future use :)

  • July 06 2012

    So much love for my city :) Montreal is amazing!

  • July 06 2012

    Next time you come to Canada, go and visit Banff and Jasper in ALberta. You won’t be disappointed. Oh, and the Badlands in southern ALberta. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a dinosaur bone!!!! You can check out the Royal Tyrell Museum too.

    • July 10 2012

      Oh I spent a great deal of time in Banff and Jasper last year! No dinosaur bones though, sadly. :(

  • July 14 2012

    Thanks for the suggestions Candice! I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal and these will come in handy when the time comes. And I love your new site design too!

  • July 15 2012

    Wow! You took really nice photos! I’ve never been to Canada but I’ve heard most of the best places to visit. How was the weather when you went there? I heard the cold can be a bit too much, verging on the terrible. :)

  • July 15 2012

    God I love Montreal. St. Denis and St. Laurent are my favourite streets! I love Prince Arthur Str. too… it connects the two.. full of restaurant patios and a nice fountain. Love it! Great post. :)

  • July 25 2012

    You should also include the Mile-End! I looove it there!

  • July 07 2013

    The Main is better than Schwartz’s for smoked meat and the whole of Duluth Avenue is AWESOME – best street in Montreal

  • July 07 2013

    The Main is better than Schwartz’s for smoked meat and the whole of Duluth Avenue is AWESOME – best street in Montreal

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