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Mpls, MN, United States

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Montréal Deux

Internets, Montreal was awesome. It was unlike any other city I've seen; the closest equation I've been able to come up with is Portland + New Orleans + Amsterdam (or, rather, my imagination of the latter, as I've never been there!).

A few things, I apparently lucked out on: the weather was sunny, and relatively cool and dry (with the exception, naturally, of the quite warm and humid Tuesday, the day I climbed Mont-Royal); I was able to find good vegetarian food (which the city's tradition of French cuisine can apparently make challenging); and my hotel was in what appeared to be the coolest part of the city (the hip, young, Plateau).

The city was highly walkable--compact and with good sidewalks--but there was also excellent public transportation (I bussed from and back to the airport, and once the two miles back to my hotel from downtown). Had I been so inclined, there were also ubiquitous "Bixi" bikes, apparently a direct equivalent to Mpls' Nice Rides, but far more extensive (and with what looked to be a bike-friendlier infrastructure, with lots of dedicated lanes and conscientious drivers).

The architecture was consistently charming, not only in the historic, distinctly French, Vieux Montreal, but in the residential areas of the Plateau and elsewhere. There were a few free-standing mansions, but the majority of the residential areas seemed to consist of block-long rows of houses sharing walls, with exterior staircases leading from the street to the second and occasionally third floor. There were lots of very French balconies (frequently with bikes locked to them!) and lots of flowers. Montreal's citizens seem clearly--and deservedly--very proud to live there.

Wednesday morning I went to the studio to see the pieces and afterward had lunch with the artist's assistant and the latter's boyfriend, who is an artist and currently the pieces' conservationist. That afternoon I wrote and then had dinner at a vegan restaurant, Aux Vivres, which reminded me of Native Foods in California and was completely delicious with an adorable back patio.

Thursday I walked through downtown and Chinatown to Vieux Montreal, explored the quays, and then hit the DHC/ART gallery to see their Jenny Holzer exhibition/installation. After that I headed to the "Mac," the Musee d'Art Contemporain, which wasn't amazing but did have a cool music video exhibit. Thursday night I dined with my new pals the assistant and conservationist at a chic bistro in Little Italy, where we lingered over dinner and dessert until 11:00. We cabbed back to their neighborhood, and from there I walked the 15 minutes or so back to my hotel, feeling completely safe even at so late an hour--particularly because lots of people were still out and about, enjoying the beautiful evening.

It's probably crazy talk--kind of like how when it's sunny in Seattle and thus one of the most beautiful places on earth, I think about moving back--but I could see myself maybe living there. Maybe. I still have to figure out how their winters really compare to ours!

Here are more photos; click here to see larger versions and/or leave comments:


april said...

Chatte perdue! Quel horreur!

Adrianna said...

That looks like a beautiful city! Sounds like a wonderful trip!

Leah said...


I've always wanted to go to Montreal, but have only been through the airport, alas!

Larissa said...

This is the second time in two days I have heard the praises sung of Montreal. I will have to check it out sometime soon.

CëRïSë said...

Seester, I know! Did you see that she "tombee du balcon"? Like Oopsie! Poor baby...

Adrianna, yes on both counts!

Leah, where were you going, to have a layover in Montreal?

And Larissa, I hope you do get to; it's a gem!

strovska said...

oh, nice pictures! this is making me (more) excited for my upcoming trip.

slench (that's got to be one of the best word verifications i've seen)