On our second day in Montreal, we decided to venture a little farther away from the hotel. I had heard good things about a neighborhood called Le Plateau-Mont-Royal and about a bagel place called the St. Viateur Café. Montreal has an underground metro system so we checked out the map and decided on a route. Living in New York City, I’m on the subway almost every day. It’s part of life, part of my daily routine. I rarely have to look at the map these days and I can refill my Metro Card in about 10 seconds flat. It took us a little longer to figure out the ticket machine at Place d’Arms station, but we finally got it right and made our way down to the platform to wait for our train. The metro station was really open with lots of light, much different than New York. The trains run on rubber tires and the doors open before the train comes to a complete stop. What a world!
We made it to Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, or simply Mont Royal, and took a walk through the neighborhood to Parc La Fontaine, an 84-acre park developed in 1874. It was another bitterly cold day so we didn’t hang around too long, just long enough for me to try to make a squirrel friend. I might have had better luck if I had some bread crumbs to offer.
After the park it was time to try a Montreal bagel. We arrived at St. Viateur Café to find it absolutely packed, not an empty table in sight. Neither of us were very hungry, so we decided to split an everything bagel with cream cheese to go. In my opinion, there are few things better than a perfect everything bagel with cream cheese. At first, I didn’t see everything on the menu, then I realized that up in the Great White North they refer to this flavor as “all dressed”. I waited to order while I watched bagels slide down a chute out of the enormous wood fired oven behind the counter. With great anticipation we went outside with our (tiny) all dressed bagel. It was…ok. I guess my bagel standards are just too high. I live in the bagel capital of the world, after all.*
After completing our bagel research, we headed up to the Jean Talon Marche, a market I’d found on some “must-see” lists for Montreal. It turns out it’s a just a really big farmers market with some restaurants, which is great…if you’re hungry. So, we walked around a little then decided to head back down to Old Montreal and visit the Basilica Notre-Dame de Montreal, a beautiful Gothic style cathedral completed in 1843. It was wonderful, definitely worth the $6 admission fee. I, of course, am always interested in visiting places like this anywhere I travel.
For dinner, we found a great pizza place called Bevo and then went back to Modavie for a repeat of the previous night’s after-dinner drinks and cake. I’m pretty sure you could visit Montreal and do nothing but eat. Its reputation as a foodie city is well-deserved.
Leading up to the trip, Lyle downloaded some apps on his phone to learn a little French, since Montreal is located in the French speaking province of Quebec. We quickly learned, however, that speaking French isn’t necessary for getting around and communicating here. I can’t speak for the rest of Quebec, but everyone we encountered spoke English and French. We were usually greeted with a friendly “Bonjour! Hello!”. We attempted some French, which was fun, but we would have been perfectly ok without knowing a word. We also watched some television shows in French and tried to figure out what was going on, because we’re nerdy like that.
*I Googled “bagel capital of the world”, only to learn it’s a title claimed by the town of Mattoon, IL. I have my doubts though.