February 13, 2013 — If diving into a true Quebecois neighbourhood is what you’re after, consider the Hochelaga Maisonneuve district (or HoMa if you prefer appearing stylish). Many people overlook this neighbourhood because it’s considered working class, and lacks the glossiness of Downtown or the Gay Village. But due to a recent influx of homosexuals, many Montrealers are regarding HoMa as the next “up and coming” area of the city. It is definitely worth checking out.
Start your day with a breakfast of patisseries at Maisonneuve Market on Ontario Street East. Pick up some local products, such as a couple of locally grow apples (mid-day snack), homemade confitures (jam) or our famous maple syrup. Good food and fun boutiques can be found in little pockets throughout HoMa, so don’t be afraid to wander through the neighbourhood. Use the Olympic tower as a point of reference, should you find yourself navigating away from the main streets.
After you’ve had sufficient practice in eating and speaking en français, stroll towards the Olympic tower. At the corner of Pie IX and Sherbrooke Streets, you’ll find the Botanical Garden. No matter what the season, you are going to be treated to colors and fragrances from around the world – from the peaceful Japanese bonsai to classically designed French gardens. In the autumn, there is the romantic Gardens of Light event, where lanterns and lights make the Chinese and Japanese gardens glow and sparkle come nightfall. No matter how you choose to tackle the gardens, there are many corners to sneak an amorous smooch with your sweetie.
After you’ve nourished your floricultural side, the jock in you will appreciate the Olympic Stadium, home of the 1976 Summer Olympics. Each year the Montréal Marathon ends with a bang as runners cross the finish line within the historic stadium. Or if you are less of the “running variety,” you can put the ‘fun’ in funicular, and ride to the top of the Olympic Tower for stellar views of the centre-ville and the St. Lawrence River. And for all you size queens, this rather phallic structure is the tallest inclined tower in the world! Yes, Montréal is excited to see you.
To end of your HoMa adventure, go back to Ontario Street East to rest your weary legs and enjoy some table service. Le Valois restaurant will give you a taste of French cuisine (that inevitably means some wine!), while offering up some delightful French Brasserie déco. Cheers!