Jun 26, 2009

Montréal: 10 reasons to love the city

Welcome to the blog Montréal for Insiders! Here you'll get an insider look at the Montréal that doesn't make it into the mainstream travel sites and guides. But before we begin, a bit of basics.... or Montréal for Dummies.

Here are 10 reasons to love Montréal, according to guest contributor Alexandra Forbes.

1- Lobster poutine at Garde Manger.

What?! You don't know what a poutine is?! A classic poutine is composed of a mound of fries + ultra-fresh cheese curds that make a squiiik squiik sound in the mouth, and gravy. The luxe version at Garde Manger - my favourite little restaurant in town - comes with big chunks of lobster. Need I say more?

2- Botanical Gardens. And no, it's not just for people with kids. In summer, the huge Chinese pavillion is lit up with a myriad colourful lanterns and they release bunches of butterflies. Quite a sight.

3- The mother of all tourist clichés? The smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's. Yeah, the place is packed, serves no booze and touristy as hell, but... it's unavoidable - a must-see for first timers.

4- The hip coffee shops and épiceries with a "Wallpaper aesthetic", ever more numerous.

5- The incredibly affordable boutique hotels of Old Montréal. The last one I stayed in, called Gault, is fine, but I prefer the more upscale St. Paul or the Place d’Armes...

6- The relatively small and delightfully walkable Downtown, where you always get glimpses of green and of the mountain that gives the city its name.

7- The ultra casual restaurants, like Liverpool House, where frequently dinner turns into a party, the chef joins in and gets drunker than the customers and the good times last till early morning.

8- Vieux Montreal, or Old Montréal, the historic district where the city was founded. Cute, old, cobblestones, horse carriages... postcard-worthy, in short.

9- Crescent Street, with its cute townhouses and shops. Ultra touristy, yes, but loads of fun, especially during the summer when the terrasses are hopping.

10- Mont Royal, the park that gives Montreal its name. Criss-crossed by trails, sprinkled with ponds and picnic tables. Soothing. And.. what a view!

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