April 24, 2012 ─ The Plateau Mont-Royal, a.k.a. the Plateau, is a delightfully hip Montréal neighbourhood with an urban fabric that showcases unique wrought-iron staircases, colourful row houses, and eclectic boutiques. Walking around the Plateau is a pleasant undertaking with flashes of charm from nearly every street corner. The district provides for many photo opportunities, so bring a camera along on this quiet promenade and discover urban living on a cozy scale, solo on the Plateau.
All hail the Montréal bagels!
What better way to start off the day than with one, two, or more legendary Montréal bagels. St-Viateur Bagel & Café (on Mont-Royal Avenue East) is a classic Montréal family-run establishment that has been preparing oven-baked bagels since 1957. You’ll love the aroma of coffee and treats as soon as you enter the premises.
Saint-Laurent Boulevard, nicknamed The Main, is where Montréal’s kaleidoscope of cultures meets and, similarly, where historical buildings rub shoulders with more recent constructions. Take the time to appreciate the treasures of this trendy commercial thoroughfare, where you’ll be able to find food, fashion, furniture, and everything in between, for all budgets and tastes. For the summertime event known as Main Madness, Saint-Laurent is closed off to traffic for one gigantic street sale with lots of great deals and a festival ambiance.
Nobody should ever leave Montréal without trying the city’s famous smoked meat. For lunch, head to Schwartz’s, which has been a fixture along The Main since 1928. Guests from all over the world have stopped by for that special taste of Montréal in the form of brisket marinated in an elaborate mixture of herbs and spices for days. M'm! M'm! Good!
Prince-Arthur and Saint-Louis
Now, well-fed, and raring to go, head down (south) The Main until you get to Prince-Arthur Street and turn left (east). During the 1960s, Prince-Arthur Street was one of the city’s hippie havens. Today, it’s a favourite pedestrian hub that hustles and bustles, especially during summer with street artists and musicians adding further spice to the blocks of restaurants and café-terraces. Prince-Arthur Street will lead you directly to the architecturally rich Square Saint-Louis with its imposing 19th century homes. Attracting well-to-do French-Canadian families in the early 1800s, the neighbourhood was home to a number of artists, including the renowned poet, Émile Nelligan.
Crossing Square Saint-Louis at its eastern tip is Saint-Denis Street, a stroll along which reveals a multitude of attractive boutiques whose window displays showcase, among other things, contemporary fashions from Québec's popular designers and exclusive wares for the bed, bath, and beyond. In fact, if there’s a trend happening, chances are you’ll spot it on Saint-Denis first. The street also hosts music and literary shops, as well as a nice variety of cafés and restaurants with sidewalk terraces filled with patrons revelling in food, sun, and scenery.
Two wheel trekking à la Montréal
If you would like to explore Montréal with pedal power, Fitz and Follwell Co. offers a variety of urban cycling tours throughout the city, both along main routes as well as off the beaten track. Knowledgeable guides make sure that tours are informative and fun, and even mix things up a bit with supplementary activities. The three-hour Bike & Yoga tour, for example, was carefully created to offer a rejuvenating, in-depth cultural experience that weaves through the Plateau with yoga stops at some of the neighbourhood’s green spaces. Quality rental bikes are available in a range of styles (urban, hybrid, vintage) and sizes to suit all riders.
A winning supper
When you’re ready for supper, make your way to Chez Victoire, a nonchalant, hip venue that offers a variety of compelling gastronomic options. With Chef Alexandre Gosselin at the helm, delicious plates like sweetbreads and scallop or shrimp rolls with avocado purée, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, green onions, and jalapeño mayo await at this neighbourhood bistro. An extensive wine list serves to enhance your flavourful delights.
For the rest of the evening, relax in the idyllic setting of Parc La Fontaine. In the summer months, you might want to check out the park’s Théâtre de Verdure, which offers free open-air performances and concerts. During winter, you can rent ice skates and glide across the park’s pond, which is transformed into a glorious skating rink.