French Connection

I fell head over heels for Montreal when I moved there from Vancouver in 2008. A trip back for the Osheaga music festival rekindled the romance, and reminded me why no other city compares.—Lise Boullard


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w hotel montreal

With its cobblestone streets, posh restaurants and industrial loft condos, Montreal’s Old Port is by far the most regal neighbourhood in the city. For a funky pad from which to prep for a night out, book a room at the boutiquey W Hotel. From the aromatherapy scents welcoming you when you walk into your room, to the edgy gold and black accents to the deep soaker tub (complete with Bliss bath products), it was the perfect spot for hanging up our Manolos. 901 Rue du Square-Victoria. 514-395-3100.



From Igloofest (yes, partying in snowsuits) in the winter to Jazz Fest in the summer, Montreal is a city of revelry. We had a blast at the Osheaga fest where over 100 bands (including Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lana Del Rey) played over three days to a crowd of 135,000. But it’s not all arts and culture: in winter, head to Mont Royal in the center of the city for a snowshoe or cross-country ski; in warmer months, rent a Bixi (the city’s shared bike program) and explore the many unique neighbourhoods. Taking in a neon-pink sunset while riding along the Lachine Canal from Old Montreal to Atwater market was one of the highlights of our trip. Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène.


vices et versa

With so many amazing places for a à 7 (that’s “happy hour” in French), how does one choose? On a crisp fall evening you’ll find locals at Les Soeur Grises in Old Montreal downing local craft beer and quintessential pub food (think duck carpaccio and pulled pork barbeque sandwiches) as well as Little Italy’s Vice & Versa sipping on the biggest selection of microbrews in the city. More into wine? Get gussied up and head to the swanky Pullman wine bar where you can choose from a selection of 300 wines, 50 of which are available by the glass. Vice & Versa, 6331 Boul. St. Laurent. 514-272-2498.



After a hard day’s work in Montreal, the city’s young professionals walk down to the black barge moored along the banks of the Saint Lawrence river to spend hours relaxing in the many saunas, hot tubs, pools and rest areas at Bota Bota. In this relaxed state, we headed over to the Dermalogica Institute (Canada’s only hybrid concept store combining a skin bar, micro zone concept, boutique and treatment center) for an IonActive Hyaluronic Facial. Known for their intensive research and facial mapping technology, it’s no wonder busy urban Montrealaises frequently pop in for 20-minute treatments on their lunch breaks. Bota Bota, Old Port of Montreal, Corner de la Commune West and McGill, 514-284-0333,


Eat Restaurant

There’s no better place to start the day than with breakfast (gourmandises pastries and home-cooked breakfasts like housemade ricotta with honey, orange zest and Maldon salt) at Olive & Gourmando in the Old Port. At lunch, walk over to the Être Avec Toi at the W Hotel for a moules frites fix (we noshed on a version with blonde beer, cheddar and tarragon). For what locals say is the city’s best poutine, line up outside La Banquise where you can choose from over 30 flavours—Mexican to vegetarian. And please don’t leave the city before making a stop at Le Marché Jean-Talon (chefs are like kids in candy shops here) to stock up on edible souvenirs like craft beer, locally made cheese, sausages and ice wines at the Marché Des Saveurs du Québec. Bon appétit! Marché Jean Talon, 7070 Avenue Henri-Julien. 514-277-1588.

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