48 Hours in Montreal

by Edward Wilkinson-Latham

Travel Editor

SHARP Magazine

Montreal is a vivacious and alluring bi lingual city with a love of parties, chic boutiques and café culture. The perfect place to take that special someone for a naughty weekend you could alternatively go solo and see if a francophone lady luck has something in store for you.

CHECK IN

The Queen Elizabeth Fairmont is an elegant and long established five-star hotel situated downtown at Boulevard Rene-Levesque. Apart from the plush rooms, it offers private floors, concierge services, and a health spa should you get the desire to Jacuzzi. The Gold Lounge on the 19th floor has panoramic views of the city skyline, while the hotel’s Beaver Club (I know what your thinking, but no) is considered one of the best French restaurants in North America. Rooms start at CN$272 including a gourmet breakfast.

OUT AND ABOUT

There can’t be many cities with a mountain in the middle so for that reason it’s worth a hike to the top. The green heart of the metropolis, Mont Royal may be more of a gentle slope, but from the top of there are spectacular views over the city.

LUNCH

Residents of Montreal enjoy differing in their opinion about the best-smoked meat in the city. Schwartz's, at 3895 St-Laurent welcomes customers without a smile, but what you do get is a mountainous helping of smoked meat between two hopelessly inadequate slices of rye bread. For something sweet, wander up to Boulangerie Séraphin at 5008 St-Laurent and go idiotic over their sumptuous cheesecake.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

Montreal has a plethora of museums, art galleries and exhibition centers. The Canadian Centre of Architecture located at 1920 Baile Street is a world-renowned institution for design students and prides itself on its avant-garde promotion of architecture and culture. It also has a stunning garden, secluded from the city designed by architect Melvin Charney. Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Thursday, 10 am to 9 pm. Adults: $10, Children $3.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Some of the city’s most stylish boutiques can be found along rue St Laurent and rue Saint-Denis with chichi and prices rising as you near the Museum Quarter. Ben & Tournesol at 915 Ste-Catherine Street E is an Aladdin’s garage, stacked with all manner of things from Versace and Hermes china to the entire Tintin series, while M0851 at 3526 St. Laurent Blvd, (formally Rugby North America), has luxurious leather goods that are a must have for any fashionista.

AN APERITIF

Billy Kun on Mont-Royal Avenue East is one the most popular microbreweries in the city and in many ways a perfect bar, with a laid back atmosphere, high ceilings, euro chic design and a somewhat bizarre collection of ostrich heads mounted on wooden plaques.

DINNER

As the name would suggest Au Pied du Cochon does not hold the vegetarian in high regard, but offers carnivores a place to roar with pleasure. Using local ingredients and reworking typical Quebec recipes by stuffing meats with yet more meat, all conversation halts when the house special of pig's foot stuffed with fois gras comes to the table. Rue Duluth.

A NIGHT CAP

Few can pass the Whiskey Café on boulevard St-Laurent without feeling its lure of over 150 scotch whiskeys. Known to be the most popular bar in Montreal to take a first date, you might want to take someone with romantic intentions or slip in on your own and go to the in house cigar bar and enjoy a Fuente OpusX cigar and a glass of Aberfeldy Midlands 1977.

SUNDAY MORNING

Whenever you happen to rise from your slumber, plod down for some brunch at Cafeteria, 3581 boulevard Saint-Laurent. Luxurious decor and a good-looking crowd is not the only thing to get you through the door. Try the eggs Florentine and their fries with real mayonnaise are the seriously addictive.

OLD TOWN JAUNT

Mornings are a great time to explore the picturesque cobbled streets of the Old City and Old Port, the oldest urban area in North America. It’s packed with 18th and 19th century merchant’s houses, former government buildings museums and a slew of art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and cafés. If you are feeling in an amorous mood, take a horse drawn carriage called a calèche round the grand tour of winding cobbled streets and cuddle under a blanket with someone special. Calèches can be found waiting outside Cathedral of Notre-Dame. $60-70

PARK LIFE

Tams Tams are held every Sunday afternoon in the park at Mount Royal during the spring and summer months. A converging spot for all different kinds of people, drums are beaten, some practice Capoiera, but most people just enjoy soaking up the sun while recovering from the night before.

AFTERNOON BITE

The healthy Café Santropol is a short hop from the park at 6337 rue Clark and serves some of the best and biggest sandwiches in the city, made with fresh baked bread and some unusual but tasty fillings. The spacious back patio is a popular spot in summer, decorated with lots of foliage and draws a relaxed crowd.

LATIN HEAT

Montreal’s Latin Quarter stretches north south on the St-Denis strip and blends French tradition with a range of cultures, hybrids and tastes. The lively bars and restaurants halt many passers by and any of the patios are an excellent place to stop for a coffee and indulge in some people watching. If you feet desire to move to a Latin beat then pop down for an afternoon lesson at Studio Tango at 642 Notre-Dame West and discover your inner Rico Sauve. $8. www.studiotango.ca

EWL©