Travel ideas Travel ideas
‘Paris-Without- North America. Every market has a unique sensibility, reflecting
the tastes and ethnic heritage of its neighborhood.
Visit a museum or gallery. There is traditional art, con-
the-Jet Lag’ temporary art, regional art, religious art, fine arts, photography,
science and interactive exhibits to engage the kids. I loved the
Biodome, where you experience four ecosystems (I’m a sucker for
steaLs her heart
penguins). But don’t try to do it all. This is a vacation. Just take in
what you can, then head outside for a latte in a sidewalk café.
Shop a boutique. An individual designer boutique, that is,
where you can talk to the people who made the clothes. Fashion is
Je commence une aventure amoureuse et where Montreal is tres French. Forget “but-they’re-so-comfort-
able” shoes. Women here will change in the Metro rather than
ouvre la voie à un paradis pour Lawrencians. wear sneakers into work. With 14 fashion and design schools, doz-
ens of the “up-and-coming” sell their designs in small boutiques
and when she finally stops talking in French, at a fraction of what an original would cost in Europe. For the
unique and chic, head for Greene Avenue, Sherbrooke Street as
susan Kraus tells us just why we, too, could well as rue Sainte-Catherine. Local crafts and more boutiques are
at the Bonsecours Market in Old Town. For vintage and collect-
fall so head-over-heels in love with Montreal. ibles, try Amherst Street.
Waterfalls are part of the lush scenery at the Botanical Gardens Walk, walk, then walk some more. Stroll Old Montreal.
Written by Susan Kraus in Montreal. Start with the Notre-Dame Basilica. I found myself whispering,
Photography courtesy of Susan Kraus so awed by the soaring ceiling, paintings, stained glass, carvings
and statues. Look closely at the Last Supper carved into the altar
itself. Saint-Paul Street is narrow and twisting, the oldest street
It was almost like having an affair.
For decades, I had been loyal to New York City. If anyone asked
MORE ON MONTREAL in Montreal, with galleries, boutiques and cafes. Place Jacques-
Cartier is lined with cafes and has artists, street performers and
Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
me “What’s your favorite city?” the reply was automatic: “New musicians. I spent an hour on a park bench soaking in the sun and
York.” But then, last summer, I spent a week in Montreal. It wasn’t watching the parade of life go past. Remember that Montreal is an
obvious at first; the seduction was subtle. The evening breeze over Imagine 500 concerts over 11 days, streets burst- island, so amble along the St. Lawrence River and the Old Port. A
the St. Lawrence River soft as a first kiss. Candle-lit cafes that invit- ing with music and most of it free. There are also must-walk is the Plateau Mont-Royal, with its funky shops, cafes
ed me to linger. Music in the streets. I started to like Montreal, then special activities and music for kids. It’s not just and historic outdoor staircases on the residences.
really like Montreal. That’s when I realized my betrayal: I could see jazz for purists, but all kinds of music for all kinds of There are walking tours with a variety of themes, plus bik-
myself living in Montreal. I love New York and still want to stay people. Now is the time to book for summer 2008: Stay someplace special. Like the Le Place d’Armes Hotel & ing tours. Montreal is the most cycle-friendly city I’ve visited.
sometime for a few months. But make a commitment? Je ne crois pas. The festival will be June 26-July 6. Suites (www.hotelplacedarmes.com) with three connected 19th- Everyone (and I do mean everyone) bikes, and there are sections
With Montreal, it felt possible. See www.montrealjazzfest.com for more information. century historic buildings and an urban-modern interior design. of the city where 45 percent of the population doesn’t even own
So, allow me to share what I saw, felt, tasted, heard … and then In an exquisite room (15-foot ceilings, stone walls, three six-foot a car … by choice.
go see for yourself. The UndergroUnd CiTy windows, couch, chairs, every media amenity, bathroom-of-the- Eat like a local. Chez Clo (3199 Ontario Street East), a neigh-
Like New York, Montreal is an island, but croissant-shaped, There are thousands of people who can leave home, stars), I sipped wine and listened to the clip-clop of the horse- borhood café, serves up ample portions of home-style regional
appropriate given des patisseries on every block. It has oodles of cul- drawn carriages on the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. With specialties, like poutine, for $5-$8 for most meals, including salad
go to work or university, buy groceries, eat out, see
ture, international cuisine and a cosmopolitan flair, but the scale a late afternoon wine and cheese reception (Gouda and Emmen- or soup. For urban-deco style and Mediterranean cuisine, head for
is more manageable, more accessible. Montreal feels both foreign
movies, hit the mall … and never put on a coat in taler, mounds of fruit, crispy breads), expansive Canadian-conti- Ora (www.restaurantora.com). I loved this bistro at night, when
and familiar: Everyone speaks French, yet the city is truly bilingual. the middle of winter. Montreal has 21 miles of un- nental breakfast spread, spa, rooftop restaurant and cheerful ser- the exotic lighting—blue-to-peach-to-yellow—transformed it
Museums have commentary in French and English. Many restau- derground pedestrian walkways with access to 65 vice, I felt nurtured. (Oh, heck, I felt rich. Decadent rich.) There into a stage set. After a late supper, do a little dancing in the adja-
rants have English menus on request. It is, comment dit-on? ... a “safe metro stations and most central destinations. are hundreds of good hotels in Montreal, but this one is sweet. cent club. Prices, given the ambiance, are very reasonable. Plus, it
foray into foreign” for the uninitiated. Visit a market. Part of the fantasy of living here is shopping is just a few blocks from the Place d’Armes Hotel and Old Town.
Some big plus factors: no need to fly over an ocean, deal with gUides are greaT the market every day with a basket. In the Atwater Market, take For romance, many of the restaurants in Old Town are lovely.
seven time zones of jet lag or be fiscally hammered by the euro. In Montreal, tour guides must pass stringent tests time for a latte and pastry at Boulangerie Premiere Moisson. The However, I highly recommend an out-of-the-way, intimate bistro
Leave Kansas City at breakfast and savor lunch in a charming café in and requirements to be certified, so the tours, walk- pastries are, well, trop beau a croquer. Stroll past organic meats, fish called La Montee de Lait (371, rue Villeneuve East; reservation
Old Montreal. While Canada is not the fantastic bargain it used to ing and otherwise, are quality. Go to www.guidatour. stands, mountains of fresh produce and too many types of chees- recommended, 514-289-9921). You can choose from the ever-
be, these days a dollar-for-dollar exchange is reason to applaud. qc.ca for details. es to count. Then take in the flowers. Bread and flowers seem changing menu featuring the freshest of ingredients (four courses
How to spend a few perfect days in Montreal? Here are some tips. equally essential to the people of Montreal. On the other side of for $40; seven courses for $60 with several options for each course)
the city is the Jean-Talon Market, the largest open-air market in
102 Lawrence Magazine Lawrence Magazine 103
Le Place d'armes Hotel & suites. Photo courtesy Graphipack inc.
or have the chef select for you and then savor the surprise. The
wine selection was exceptional, the meal most memorable.
With about 5,000 restaurants in Montreal, there is stiff com-
petition. You can find outstanding ethnic and gourmet meals at
prices more in line with the Midwest than N.Y.C. or L.A.
Party down. Montreal has a buzz that lasts all night. Cruise
the clubs or sit at a table on the sidelines and watch the parade.
Sainte-Catherine and Amherst streets will not disappoint. Mon-
treal is tres gay-friendly, and the Village area rivals San Francisco
any day. Try drag-queen bingo at Cabaret Chez Mado.
Picnic in a park. The Botanical Gardens are lush, expansive
and inviting. Mount Royal provides vistas and perspective. La
Fontaine in the Latin Quarter. The banks of the St. Lawrence.
And so many more to choose from. All you need is a bottle of
wine, some delectable cheeses and crusty bread—all found easily
Go to church. Or at least visit the big ones: Mary Queen
of the World Cathedral, St. George’s Anglican Church, Christ
Church Cathedral, St. James United Church, Beth Schloime
Synagogue, St. Patrick’s Basilica, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours
Chapel … the list goes on. At St. Joseph’s Oratory (second largest
Roman Catholic basilica in the world after St. Peter’s in Rome), I watched open-mouthed as pilgrims and penitents climbed the 99
massive steps up the mountain on their knees.
Hear the music. Join the dance. The International Jazz Fes-
tival (see sidebar on page 102) is just the start. Almost every sum-
mer night there are free concerts in parks somewhere. Montreal
is mad for dancing and rivals Buenos Aires in its devotion to the
tango. The “Place des Arts” is a cultural complex featuring about
900 performances a year (music, dance, theater, cinema) at its five
major performance halls.
Walk a tightrope. Or at least learn more about TOHU, a
unique international training and performance center for the cir-
cus arts, home to the National Circus School (college degree!), in
partner with Cirque de Soleil. Tour the site, learn about its mis-
sion, watch students in training and see a performance.
Eat a bagel. Here’s where my sense of loyalty is strained. I’ve
always regarded N.Y.C. as the queen of bagels. But Montreal has a
bagel history equally as impressive, and prides itself on their style
(boiled in water and honey, baked in a wood-burning oven). At Fair-
mount Bagel, (www.fairmountbagel.com) where they have been
hand-rolling bagels since 1919, there is no lock on the door because
it never closes. I carried a dozen bagels home on the plane.
Be a kid. Ride the coaster at La Ronde amusement park. Go
ice skating at Atrium Le 1000. Ride a bike along the canal. Take a
boat cruise on the St. Lawrence.
Kiss. Kiss. The kiss is two-cheeked, always starting on the
right, and you should make a proper “kissy” sound. At first meet-
ing, a handshake, but after that …
Montreal made me feel like a kid again, frisky and full of
potential. I don’t know what it would be like to live there, to get
up and go to work every day, but as a playground for grown-ups,
c’est parfait. •