August 10, 2011 — Wrought-iron staircases, old-style stone masonry, walk-up duplexes, imported cars, second-hand bicycles, designer fashion boutiques and funky frip stores: this working-class-turned-yuppie neighbourhood with bohemian undercurrents is by far the grooviest scene in Montréal. The Plateau is the best window to view the real Montréal. Here are some ideas to explore this fun neighbourhood with the family.
To start your day, take the metro up to Mont-Royal station. It will lead you right on the Mont-Royal Avenue. This popular avenue has something for everyone, with small, funky, one-of-a-kind boutiques to groovy, retro and second-hand bookstores, cafés and restaurants. With so many choices available, you’ll be hard pressed to decide where to breakfast today! A few favourites include St-Viateur Bagel & Café, and Chez Cora, both found on Mont-Royal Avenue.
After a breakfast of champions comes a much-needed walk around Parc La Fontaine, which is conveniently just a hop, skip and a jump from the restaurant. Depending on the season, you can stroll through the beautiful park, laze about on the grass, or even rent skates and pirouette about the frozen lake.
On the other side of the park, take Amherst Street, where you will find a magnificent example of 1920s architecture: the former Généreux public bathhouse. Transformed into a museum in the nineties, this heritage building is now home to the l’Écomusée du fier monde, a museumof industrial and working class history focusing on the Centre-Sud neighbourhood, a microcosm of the industrial revolution that took place in Québec, Canada and North America during the second half of the 19th century.
After ambling down Amherst Street, making a few stops here and there at the various antique and second-hand shops along the way, it is definitely time to take a break. If you enjoy French cuisine, then the Bistro Florin is a perfect spot to fuel up before continuing on your way. Featuring traditional fare made with local produce in a friendly atmosphere, the bistro offers an appetizing table d’hôte lunch menu that changes every two weeks.
After lunch, walk back north and take Sherbrooke Street to the West and then Saint-Denis Street to the north.Are you familiar with the Céramic Café-Studio? It is really quite easy and enjoyable: you choose a piece that tickles your fancy from the many ceramic pieces available on the studio shelves, personalize it (as you enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a delicious snack), and hand it off to the artistic personnel to glaze and then bake your creation. Pass by the studio a couple of days later to pick it up.
Then, take some time to stroll around and explore the area’s unique streets like Saint-Denis Street or Mont-Royal Avenue and drink in the incomparable personality and atmosphere of the neighbourhood. Did you know that the Plateau Mont-Royal is considered to be one of the principal artistic and cultural locations in Québec and even Canada? There is always something interesting to see. These streets are lined with boutiques, cafés, bookstores (you’ll also find used books and CDs) as well as gourmet eateries.
Already time for dinner? Take Mont-Royal Avenue up to Saint-Laurent Boulevard where you’ll find lots of choices to calm everyone’s appetite. And here is a place you'll feel good about. Remember Robin Hood’s creed - "take from the rich and give to the poor"? While Robin des Bois, le resto bienfaiteur does not actually rob the evil nobles of the land, it does, in fact, share its profits with community groups. Volunteer-run, this non-profit restaurant represents a new concept in community outreach, with a warm, hospitable décor, reasonable prices and most importantly, social engagement and helping others at the top of the daily menu.
Enjoy your stay in Montréal!