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Best-selling author Yann Martel on finding home and Montréal

Celebrated Canadian author Yann Martel spent over a decade living in Montréal, part of that crafting a novel that would become not only an international bestseller but a Man Booker Prize-winner and contemporary classic: Life of Pi. Since then, both the city and the author have continued to evolve and captivate our imaginations – Martel with his new novel, The High Mountains of Portugal, and Montréal with its fusion of centuries-old history, high-tech innovation and diverse arts and cultural milieu. With Montréal’s annual international literary festival, Blue Metropolis, just around the corner (April 11 to 17, 2016), Tourisme Montréal blogger Robyn Fadden recently sat down with Yann Martel to talk about The High Mountains of Portugal and the importance of different places in our lives, as well as his favourite things about Montréal. You were born in Spain, have lived stretches of your childhood and adult life in Montréal, you’ve traveled far and wide, and your novels span the globe – why focus on concepts of home in The High Mountains of Portugal? I was looking at home in relation to the broad theme of the novel – like Life of Pi, I was interested in looking at faith. Not… / Read More →

Your Montréal bachelor party plan of attack

Montréal is tailor made for bachelor party action, and planning is key if you don’t want the big night out to devolve into another episode of herding cats. When devising your game plan, we suggest you break the night down into three distinct phases: First: A bit of manly competition to kick things off It’s always best to work up a bit of an appetite before heading out on the town, and Montréal is far from short on bachelor-party-appropriate activities to get the ball rolling. (And let’s be honest: there’s no joy quite like the joy of beating your best buds in front of your best buds.) First off, the new Maniax “friendly urban axe-throwing” sport centre bills itself as “like darts, but a hundred times more awesome,” and we won’t beg to differ. Bachelor party packages are available. Still on the exertional side, the athletically inclined bachelor gang will want to raise their gaze to the Horizon Roc Climbing Centre, which offers more than 300 routes on over 27,000 square feet of climbable surface. Also amazing is their indoor “Acro ∞ Parc,” featuring a high-ropes course (tree-to-tree style, up to 40 feet high), a zipline and slacklines. If the guys are… / Read More →

Your Spring Break guide to eating, drinking and partying, Montréal-style

Spring Break amazingness? You can have it all in Montréal. With its 3 a.m. closing hours, drinking age of 18 and hugely depreciated dollar (the whole city is basically a 30% off sale), Montréal is a win-win-win Spring Break party proposition. Let the following be your guide to doing it up right. Eats and pre-drinks There are those of us who would argue that the eating and pre-drinks portion of the evening is the most critical phase: not only are you laying a base for the remainder of the evening, you’re setting the tone. If you’re starting out on the Plateau Mont-Royal, imaginative hipster magnet and oyster/cocktail bar Le Majestique is all eye candy and killer cuisine. Fab fun food and drinks are also the raison d’être of L’Gros Luxe (Caesars topped with hamburgers, ’nuff said), and Big in Japan’s delectable small plate menu and vibrant vibe have also made it big in Montréal. If downtown, head to Sainte-Catherine Street West for Imadake, another Japanese small plate pub with a fun bordering on raucous atmosphere (which may have something to do with their signature “sake bombs”). Dominion Square Tavern is a must if only for the beautiful 1920s setting, though the… / Read More →

Montréal winter nights are bright with activity possibilities

Nighttime is always the right time for both family fun and slightly more adult-oriented activities and entertainment in Montréal during the winter season. Gliding on ice under night skies is a sublime pastime at the Old Port’s idyllic Bonsecours Basin skating rink, a huge open-air surface renowned for its exceptional ice. It features some of the most striking views of Old Montréal and the city skyline in an extremely fun-friendly environment. Each day has a different music theme: classical Mondays, world music Tuesdays, urban sounds Wednesdays, and so on. The ice is open Monday to Wednesday until 9 pm, and Thursday to Sunday until 10 pm. Skate rentals and lockers are available. Many of Montréal’s most beautiful parks also feature night skating along with music, warming stations and/or places to eat and, er, lubricate. The picturesque Parc Lafontaine, Parc Maisonneuve and Beaver Lake on the summit of Mount Royal are all examples of top-tier blading places that typically stay open on the weekends until 10 pm. For locations, skating conditions and other info, please go here. Speaking of the mountain, Mount Royal Park is an outdoor winter sports enthusiast’s dream. In addition to skating, sledding and cross-country skiing – there… / Read More →

Make your Montréal holiday stay happy – and affordable!

The holidays are about getting together with family and friends, sure. But sometimes sleeping on a lumpy hide-a-bed or a futon in a friend’s basement can put a kink in your holiday spirit – and your back. So if you’re not the couch-surfing type but you need to watch your budget, here are some affordable Sweet Deal offers (rooms under $150 and 50% off the second night) that will make your holiday visit to Montréal a little more merry. The tasteful and warmly appointed Hôtel Manoir Sherbrooke has everything going for it including the all-important, as they say, location, location, location. Situated on Sherbrooke Street a short walk to the popular restos, bars and shopping of major entertainment arteries St. Laurent Blvd. to the west and St. Denis Street to the east, the Manoir is also only a few blocks north of downtown and close to the Quartier des Spectacles. The classic, converted Victorian home comes with all the modern amenities and a complimentary continental breakfast is offered. If you want to live life like a Montrealer in one of its quintessentially Montréal neighbourhoods, the Plateau Mont-Royal, look no further than the Auberge de la Fontaine. Situated directly across the… / Read More →

Spend a Sunday at Montreal’s Tam-Tams

The rhythm will draw you in from blocks away. You’re strolling after Sunday brunch, heading for a walk up Mount Royal, when suddenly, faintly, you’ll hear the beckoning beat. Drums, tam tams, tablas and wooden sticks striking the back of park benches all mesh together to announce the official, bona fide, arrival of summer in Montreal…

21 Swings brings music to the Quartier des spectacles

The 21 Swings public art installation, outside at the Quartier des Spectacles in the heart of downtown, is the kind of instrument anyone can play – and everyone is, no matter what their musical ability, age or whether they find themselves next to friends or strangers on the swings…

THE PEOPLE OF POP MONTREAL: PHOTO GALLERY BY RICHMOND LAM

There’s no way you’d ever confuse the Montreal Jazz Fest audience with that of Pop Montreal, but let’s just drop the overused “hipster” descriptor and move on. It’s about as accurate as calling Pop Montreal an “indie” music festival. We enlisted the wonderful Montreal photographer Richmond Lam to help document that the people who attend Pop Montreal are as diverse as the fest itself…

BAR HOPPING ON AVENUE MONT ROYAL

Mont Royal Avenue starts from Avenue du Parc and crosses the Plateau borough from west to east all the way to Frontenac and beyond. The stretch centred around St. Denis and Mont Royal Metro Station is my favourite part, filled with boutiques, bars, and restaurants. On these still warm fall afternoons, what a great place to relax on a terrace and have a cocktail or two after work…

MEET A MONTREALER: JACQUES VILLENEUVE

Montreal’s Jacques Villeneuve is a hometown hero: only the third motorsport driver in history to have won championship races in CART, the Indy 500 and F1. The Montreal Buzz caught up with him to talk racing, his role in the French version of the Pixar movie, Cars 2, and where he spends his time in Montreal…