3. Parc Outremont
This is the best kept secret in Montreal: Parc Outremont isn’t that big of a park, and it welcomes Mile-End indie students studying outdoors and their quiet neighbours, mostly Hassidic Jews bringing their kids to the playground. Get a tasty ice cream or sorbet at Bilboquet on Bernard Avenue, and then walk a few streets down to find this green space set in the middle of beautiful Victorian houses. As a recommended read, I suggest Vaudeville!, by Gaétan Soucy, an experimental writer who’s been hailed as “one of the best French-language novelists today” according to Le Monde. Follow Xavier, a Hugarian immigrant who learns how to become a demolisher, with the help of a little frog coming straight from classic American cartoons.
4. Parc Laurier
The east end of Laurier Street still feels like an old city neighbourhood, with a handful of bakeries, cafés and shops where the regulars visit weekly. In the heart of this French district is the Parc Laurier, an amazing place for picnics on Sunday afternoon. Bring Wild to Mild, by Réjean Ducharme, who explores the wicked lives of a couple hiding at home, living through the eyes of two successful artists instead of following the political, social and cultural events that link them to the outside world. A sharp and cynical writing that’s proved to be one of the most important voices in Quebec’s literature, even thirty-something years after its initial publication.
5. Square Saint-Louis
At the epicentre of Montreal’s most underrated places for taking a break from normal life is Square Saint-Louis. This is where all the most important cultural figures of Québec’s history used to live, near Laval Avenue. It’s Montreal’s Saint-Germain-des-Prés; a district dedicated to political, social and cultural debate, where cafés used to be packed with writers, dancers and activists. And since it’s so close to Saint-Denis Street and the Latin Quarter, you should come here to read The Complete Poems of Émile Nelligan (by Émile Nelligan) and The March to Love: Selected Poems of Gaston Miron (by Gaston Miron) both who profoundly shook the world of letters with their dark, poignant poetry, either in the beginning of the 20th century, or right after Quebec’s Quiet Revolution.