Montreal: Europe Meets America
What happens when Europe meets America?
I’ve been wanting to visit this city ever since I moved to Canada. I love love Vancouver, but always long for Europe, mainly for it’s architecture, history and that “older” feel. Having heard that Quebec is the place to go for a glimpse of Europe, I knew I’d go one day.
Here are my top 5 things that I remembered Montreal for:
1. Lots of smokers!
Yes, this point becomes number one on my list, because I just couldn’t help but notice how many people smoked in Montreal. So different from Vancouver, where almost noone smokes.
Walking downtown Montreal my nose wasn’t happy at all. People smoke on the go, on street corners, in front of restaurants and metros – everywhere.
2. Wide Montreal streets.
Montreal is much bigger than Vancouver, you can feel it right away. Streets are wide and long. You can walk around one neighbourhood for hours, wandering in and out of smaller streets, turning left and right.
Same with roads for traffic – cars have more space, three lanes at least as opposed to (normal to Vancouver) 2 lanes.
3. Mix of old and new.
Here’s where Europe really meets America. Glass skyscrapers stand comfortably right next to XIX century churches. Old Montreal is right on the edge of downtown. Horse carriages and cars – normal.
I dig the contrast.
This mix also really reminded me Moscow. More so than comparing Montreal to any Western European city, I found it similar to my hometown.
Western Europe does a much better job keeping its history and old parts of cities untouched with random glass buildings (they try.. for the most part).
4. Adorable Montreal suburbs!
Hands down my favorite part of our trip to Montreal – exploring neighbourhoods outside of downtown: La Plateau, Westmount, Griffintown.
La Plateau is very comparable to our Main St/Mount Pleasant area: lots of local shops, coffee places and restaurants.
It is one of the trendy neighborhoods of the city as well: many famous food places (La Banquise poutine, Schwartz’s smoked meat, both of which we tried of course and highly recommend) and night life are here!
Thanks to Ira Sumanova for this neighborhood tip!
We got to Westmount by taking Montreal Metro to Atwater station. Metro is nice – simple, fast and clean. The wagons are really bright inside: blue and yellow, a fun touch to lighten up the mood of the underground.
Walking 5-10 mins south from Atwater station you’re getting into Westmount. It’s definitely residential. 5 to 16 stories buildings coexist with those typical to Montreal 2-3 stories ones – quite noticeable separation between richer and poorer population right within this one neighborhood.
Griffintown was an area recommended by one of our Uber drivers (hey, Chatelaine!) as an up and coming one in Montreal, especially for food.
We didn’t spend too much time here, but I recommend Foxy resto – all food is wood fired and cocktails are delicious!
5. Art, art, art!
Montreal is like a living museum. This is definitely noticeable walking around the city. Everywhere you go, in each neighborhood, there is always something: a mural, a sculpture or an art installation.
I loved it! The city becomes so much more vibrant and alive. Art pieces and murals are created in various styles, from a different “era”, which makes exploration even more exciting.
Food in Montreal was good, everywhere we ate, but one place I’d recommend to definitely try out is Pullman. It is a small tapas and cocktails bar in Downtown Montreal.
Everything from the atmosphere to food quality and deliciousness was memorable. Cocktails are also great, with just enough alcohol to give you a healthy buzz 😉
I hope you enjoy Montreal, if you choose to visit! Tell me what are some of your favorite spots, if you’ve been here?!