Montreal: 72 Perfect Hours
Photo credit: Henry MacDonald (@night.shotz) – Tourisme Montréal
As the world's second-largest city in Canada and one of the largest French-speaking cities outside of Paris, Montréal is a captivating blend of old and new that reflects a culturally diverse metropolis with a unique fusion of European and North American culture. Montréal is heralded as Canada's cultural and artistic hub which blends high fashion with edgy hipster vibes making this a creative and vibrant city. This is most apparent through the city's more than 100 festivals, making it a must-visit destination with happenings for every interest year-round.
It is also a city that has one of the most exciting food scenes in the country, along with plenty of activities and sightseeing opportunities ranging from photogenic 18th-century facades of Old Montréal, particularly along its oldest street, Rue Saint-Paul, to the glittering shops and restaurants of downtown. The architectural grandeur of the city also includes heritage churches such as the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame Basilica as well as the first building in Québec to be classified a historic monument, Château Ramezay. One of the best views from which to appreciate this magical city is from the top of the famed Mount Royal which offers stunning 360-degree panoramas of Montréals new skyscrapers mixed with centuries-old architecture set against the St. Lawrence River.
Where to Stay
One of the best newcomers to emerge on the luxury hotel scene is the Four Seasons Hotel Montreal at the epicenter of Montreal's Golden Square Mile. Chic and modern with a nod to the 70s, this sits at the epicenter of the famed Golden Square Mile that is connected with the ultra luxe Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.
The signature restaurant is Marcus Samuelsson's namesake brasserie, Marcus Restaurant & Terrace which resides on the expansive third floor terrace with panoramic views over downtown Montreal. As his first Canadian outpost this airy and modern space specializes in dishes that use sustainable seafood with provisions from local purveyors.
Four Seasons Hôtel Montréal_Outside
With interiors designed by Paris-based Gilles & Boissier in collaboration with Montreal-based architect and designer Philip Hazan, rooms have a sensual feel and sumptuous fabrics with touches of brass and rose gold that exude warmth with understated luxury. Bathrooms feature free standing soaking tubs, and are luxuriously appointed. Enjoy views from the floor to ceiling windows and chaise lounge chairs overlooking Montreal.
What to See
Montreal is a city with a distinctly creative vibe with burgeoning neighborhoods that combine a hip counter-culture with chic new eateries and boutiques. Mile End is the hipster neighborhood where you can taste the famous Montreal bagels at Saint Viateur Shop and also indulge in their famous café culture that dots St. Laurent Blvd that are nestled between chic independent fashion and homeware boutiques, consignment shops, and galleries.
Photo credit: © Andrew Miller
Step back in time and walk along Rue Saint Paul and Rue Saint-Urbain for the best views of the cathedral and browse the elegant boutiques and cafes housed in 17th century gothic architecture. Make your way down to the port and visit the floating Bota Bota, spa sur l'eau. Housed in an old ferryboat docked at the Old Port, this contemporary spa features a minimalist and industrial-chic décor with floors of saunas, pools, and jacuzzis offering beautiful waterfront views of Old Town Montreal. During the warmer months relax in the various pools surrounded by lush landscaping.
Where to Dine
Québécois gastronomy is one of the areas that Montreal prides itself on combining traditional French techniques with a sophisticated Canadian flair. One of the best restaurants in Canada is Toque! in downtown Montreal. A masterpiece helmed by Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Normand Laprise, he strives for perfection in every dish offered on his tasting menu. This unforgettable fine dining experience has beautifully plated seasonal offerings with exceptional pairings of fine French wines.
Located in the bougey chic neighborhood of Griffintown is hot newcomer, Foxy which is the brainchild of Olive et Gourmando. The dark décor lends a sexy vibe to this candlelit restaurant that centers around the fire and the menu was created with a charcoal grill and wood-fired oven. Highlights from the menu include the Nordest Hanger Steak, whole trout, and mushroom flatbread which are grilled to perfection.
Photo credit: Eva Blue
For a fun Québécois experience dine at Montreal Plaza in the Mile End. The kitschy and eccentric décor, such as an upside down dollhouse hanging from the ceiling or Elmo and the smurfs taking center stage in a corner, mirror the vibrant and multifaceted personality of the delicious cuisine that pushes boundaries. Co-chefs Charles-Antoine Crête and Cheryl Johnson, both alumni of Toqué!, created an original menu that combines very distinct flavors that are come together in a tantalizing way for unique experience not found anywhere else.