For years it seems we have talked about going to Montreal but because it is so close there has never been any urgency to do so. Planned trips are easy to cancel, other things get in the way or we pass through quickly on our way to somewhere else.
For the first time in five years, we didn’t go to New York City for May Long weekend. You can see posts from some of our previous NYC trips here, here or here. Rather, we took the shorter drive to Montreal to finally make a weekend of it.
Although Old Montreal is the highlight for many people when visiting the city, we wanted to stay in an actual neighbourhood and found a great spot on Airbnb. This place was right on the border between Mile End and Plateau – although not too close to the subway, it was right on a major bus route to downtown and close to lots of great shops and restaurants.
Our first night there, we explored our ‘hood and with beautiful weather we walked a long way (longer than planned), ate some poutine at La Banquise and found some great ice cream at Cremerie Meu Meu.
Our second morning I was up early to hit one of the famous bakeries in the area, Boulangerie Guillaume. This place was incredible; although I arrived at about 7:05, just minutes after they open, the line was already 10 deep and for good reason. There is nothing more appealing to me for breakfast than a wall of pastry. After enjoying our pile of absolutely delicious pastry on the back deck, (order the almond croissants) we took the bus to Old Montreal for the day on Saturday.
We did a good tourist circuit, checking out the Notre Dame, exploring some of the small streets, eating at Jardin Nelson, hanging out in Jacques Cartier square and going down to the Old Port.
After our full tour, we took the subway back at Noah’s request and relaxed on our patio for a couple of hours before a great dinner at a neighbourhood Italian spot, Keste. Finally, we ended our day at the famous Cafe Olympico with some coffee and dessert. Although it has been a lousy spring, we had beautiful weather and made the most of it, eating outside everywhere we went.
On Sunday, we were in no real rush to get going so we went for some more pastries, this time from Cheskie, and some bagels from the famous St. Viateur store. Although the Cheskie had some good babka, it didn’t quite live up to the New York version in our minds.
Upon checking out of our place, we headed up to the top of Mont Royal, the first time I had ever visited it and checked out the beautiful view of the city below. Our last stop on the way out of the city was another Montreal institution, Schwartz’s smoked meat. The meat that is used here to make the sandwiches is fantastic and justifies the line that was out the door.
With our first foray to Montreal in the books, we were happy to have less than a two-hour drive to home and we will certainly look forward to returning soon.