Montréal has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time. Being the largest city in the French speaking province of Québec, Canada and has historical influences from the British, French, and Native Indians which make this an eclectic, vibrant, and tourist friendly city! This wonderful city was even more appealing during our visit last week because of the gorgeous display of fall colors. Mother Nature and Montréal definitely have an unspoken love affair that is beautifully shown on the trees, in the parks and markets, and in the crisp, fall air. With the wonders of fall, friendly locals, and a great vibe, I fell in love with Montréal!
Flying into the Montréal-Trudeau Airport, the fall colors welcomed visitors through the airplane window.
After landing, going through Canadian customs, and locating public transportation, I was excited to explore Montréal. Public transportation, in my opinion, is the easiest, most efficient, and cheapest way (besides walking) to get around Montréal. Taking the 747 P.E. Trudeau Airport/Downtown bus into the city from the airport took about 40 minutes, a bus ticket includes a map of the city and major hotels, so you easily navigate where to stop near your hotel. A one-way ticket on the 747 bus is $10/per person, or purchase a three day transportation card (STM card) for $18/per person to utilize all public transport (buses and metro). Utilizing the metro (subway) is the best way to get around Montréal, take a few minutes to review the metro map to familiarize yourself with the metro stations and areas you want to visit. Most of the metro cars and stops were clean, no unwanted visitors approached us, and I felt safe using the metro system. If you still feel uneasy about using the metro, just ask a friendly local or public transit employee for help, locals were always willing to help us with directions!
We stayed at the Intercontinental Montréal near Old Montréal. With a convenient location near Old Montréal and several metro stations within walking distance, it was the perfect hotel for our visit to Montréal. The view from our room was fantastic! With sweeping views of downtown, old town, Parc Jean-Drapeau and the Biosphere, it was lovely to sit and watch Montréal show off the beautiful colors of fall from our room!
A visit (or multiple visits) to the Sarah B. Bar Absinthe in the hotel was a great place to unwind after discovering Montréal. This quaint bar is full of character and quickly became one of our favorite hotel bars we have visited! Visitors are treated to specialty cocktails, a full bar, food menu, and absinthe. Absinthe, with a high alcohol content (45-74% by volume or 90-148 proof), also known as the “green fairy” because some believe it has a hallucinogenic effect on the drinker. Even though I have tried absinthe in Prague, Czech Republic years ago, I had not experienced it like I did at the Sarah B. Bar Absinthe. A large fountain of ice water drops chilled water onto a sugar cube that is strained above the glass of absinthe slowly dissolving the sugar into the green liquid. This process takes a few minutes, but once completed, guests are treated to a strong, licorice flavored green libation. I finished my absinthe, but was never visited by the green fairy, maybe next time I drink absinthe, a fairy will appear!
With friendly hotel staff, a great bar, convenient location, and beautiful views of Montréal, I would definitely recommend the Intercontinental Montréal for your next stay in Montréal!
Vieux (Old) Montréal is a quaint part of the city with cobblestone streets that show historical significance and the beginning of Montréal. Buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries now house art galleries, boutique hotels, cafés, restaurants, and shops. This wonderfully preserved historic district allows visitors to stroll on the romantic streets and ponder about what life would be like during the 18th and 19th centuries in Montréal. Look through art galleries and shops, or stop at a café, just remember to gaze up to enjoy the beautiful architecture that has withstood time (with some helpful preservation). Vieux Montréal’s main plaza is Place Jacques-Cartier. This plaza has a beautiful pedestrian promenade that leads you from the Nelson monument down to the Vieux Port. Walking through Old Montréal, you almost forget that you are in the largest city in Québec!
The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal is the pinnacle of Vieux Montréal. This stunning church was designed in 1824 and the majority of construction occurred during 1824 through 1829. In 1978, a fire destroyed most of the chapel and it was meticulously rebuilt from 1979 to 1982. With a breathtaking sanctuary, altar, and pulpit, visitors gaze in awe inside this Catholic Church. With exquisitely carved, gilded and painted details in the wood, bronze panels, stained glass windows, and beautiful murals, this impressive church gives worshippers and visitors a quiet and beautiful place to ponder life.
While in Vieux Montréal, we ate at Vieux-Port Steakhouse. Located on St. Paul Street, in a century old building with a stone facade and welcoming interior, this was one of our favorite restaurant experiences in Montréal. Even though it is located in one of the main tourist areas of Montréal (I usually try to avoid touristy restaurants), we had a great meal, with perfectly prepared steak, wonderful wine suggestions and selection and wonderful service. I would definitely recommend a meal at Vieux-Port Steakhouse in Old Montréal!
Vieux (Old) Port, once Montréal’s commercial wharves, is now a historic district that has been restored to a waterfront park. During the warmer months, it’s a popular spot for outdoor activities; joggers, walkers, cyclists, families, and couples congregate at the Old Port to take in the views and nice weather. Tourist attractions (mostly offered during warmer months), like river cruises, excursions, pedal boat rentals, an IMAX theater, and a large outdoor skating rink (winter months only) are offered to visitors along the waterfront. It was nice to stroll along the waterfront and take in the beautiful buildings of Old Montréal.
Montréal has several outdoor markets to visit. Atwater Market is located in southwest Montréal, near the Lachine Canal (after visiting the market, take a two minute walk to view the canal). The market was established in 1933 and is housed in a historic art-deco style building. With butchers, cafés, delicatessens, fresh produce, florist stands, and specialty shops, this market offers both visitors and locals fresh and local products. It was the perfect spot to take refuge from the rain and enjoy a cappuccino and sweet treat!
With so many great places to visit in Montréal, I just can’t write one blog post about this city! Stayed tuned for Montréal Part II! From parks, markets, easy and safe public transportation, friendly locals, wonderful restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and charming historic attractions scattered throughout this world-class city, Montréal is a gem and has now become one of my top cities to visit in the world!
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