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Trip Ideas

Next Stop: Montreal

There's nothing like summer in Montreal. Here, the 8 spots you'll find us before the cold comes.

See recent posts by Siobhan Reid

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Even rival Torontonions will admit that Montreal’s nightlife scene is unparalleled. And you’re not going to find a cooler scene or better people-watching than at SuWu’s—a hip hop-themed restaurant/nightclub on the always-buzzy Boulevard Saint Laurent (or “The Main,” as the locals call it). The drinks are strong and cheekily-named (Big Booty Ho, anyone?!) and the playlist—an homage to 90s hip hop legends like Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur—gives the place a cool, “street” feel. Go early for dinner and order the secret sauce-topped poutine and the Korean BBQ-style edamame’s. The throngs of beautiful people will start rolling in around 10.

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Photo by Bruno Boutot



For a classic French bistro experience, look no further than L’Express, a venerated 35-year-old institution in the tony Plateau neighborhood. The look is old-fashioned film noir (picture: mirrored walls, cracked black-and-white tiled floor, cigarette-ashed ceilings, a seemingly endless bar), the menus are written with a fountain pen and the food is rich and unpretentious. You’ll be served an enormous jar of tart French cornichons with sliced baguette and cheese to start; from there, order a glass of wine from the restaurant’s 11,000-bottle cellar, then tuck into a heavenly feast of warm chevre chaud, steak frites with shallot butter and a pistachio and griottine ice cream cake to finish.

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Photo courtesy of Montreal Public Markets


Jean-Talon Market

On weekend mornings, locals flock to this massive year-round farmer’s market in Little Italy to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and baked goods and quell their appetites from regional food purveyors. Of some 250 stalls at the market, standouts include La Fournée des Sucreries de l’Érable, a bakery known for its maple syrup pie, and La Boîte aux Huîtres, an oyster shop carrying 25 varieties from all over the world (the ones from Prince Edward Island are our favorite). Don’t leave without sampling some of the province’s gastronomic specialties like smoked meats, cheese and beer and maple candy at Marché des Saveurs du Québec.

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Café Olimpico/ Café Sfouf

Montrealers take their coffee _very _seriously, and you don’t have to wander far to find a good cup. But to sample the city’s best, make your way to the ever-growing Mile End ‘hood, where you’ll find Café Olimpico, an enduring favorite. The vibe is eclectic: there’s always a European football match on TV, a table of old Italian men eating cannoli’s and hipsters outside sipping cold brew. Across town is the notable newcomer Café Sfouf, an airy art-filled space with large communal tables and an array of potted plants. Settle in to one of the mismatched armchairs and order a freshly-brewed cappuccino with a moist slice of “sfouf,” a middle Eastern cake made with semolina and turmeric.

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Big in Japan

Walk into this winding, atmospheric speakeasy and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Wine-red curtains line the walls, illuminated only by candlelight; a 1960s French Yé-Yé pop playlist plays softly in the background; and a sexy young clientele sips inventive cocktails. Order a bottle of Japanese whisky (the Yamazaki is one of the top-sellers), and if you don’t polish it off, the bar will write your name on it, screw it into the ceiling, and keep it for you until you return another night.

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Bota Bota

This floating Scandinavian spa is built in what was formerly a ferryboat that ran between the cities of Sorel and Berthier in the 1950s. It is permanently docked on the St. Lawrence River and has a sleek, modern design courtesy of Architect Jean Pelland, who transformed the space into what feels like a luxury ocean liner. The spa’s Water Circuit Treatment is its most popular treatment, and involves alternating dips in hot and ice-cold plunge pools and stints in eucalyptus steam room and sauna. Though if you’re really looking to get pampered, nothing beats the Immersive Indulgence Treatment, which combines a cranberry and pomegranate scrub followed by a chocolate truffle wrap. Leave enough time to laze in the hammocks or on the oversized porthole seats and feel the lull of the water down below.

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Montreal is known as one of Canada’s top culinary destinations, which is great for your taste buds, but can be not-so-great for your waistline. To counteract all the gluttony, get your blood pumping with a hike up Mont Royal. The natural landmark offers the best view of the skyline in the city and has a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind New York’s Central Park. It’ll take a little over one hour to ascend the scenic mountain by foot, but once you’ve made it to the top, you’ll be treated to an unbeatable vantage of la Croix du Mont-Royal—an an illuminated monument on the northeastern peak of the mountain, which was originally erected by the Governor of the Island in 1643.

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Espace Pépin

This Old Montreal boutique/art gallery is _the _place to score local threads and design finds. You'll find contemporary fashions by labels like Rag & Bone and Scotch & Soda, plus home wares by local talents like Annie Legault and the owner, Lysanne Pepin. Take your time perusing the collection in this sprawling, exposed brick and wood space; there’s a café on-site for when you crave a caffeine fix.

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