How to spend a romantic weekend in the French Canadian city
Having visited Montreal over a handful of times to see one of my closest friends, I thought I had the French Canadian city all figured out. Throw in a new traveling companion and some unexpected touristy plans, and the city on the mountain now holds a whole new meaning for me.
We started our long weekend by dropping our bags at the Casa Bianca bed and breakfast (or gîte). The gorgeously restored building overlooking Parc Jeanne-Mance has been open for business for the past 7 years, was mentioned in the New York Times travel section in the fall of 2010, and has charm for days. With friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a full organic breakfast each morning, the inn has only two suites and three regular rooms, making privacy easy to come by.
After wandering through the Plateau neighbourhood for the afternoon, we made our way to Rue Notre Dame’s Liverpool House, a haven for meat lovers from the same team that created the uber popular Joe Beef, located right next door. After dining on massive amounts of pork and steak, the beau and I popped over to Burgundy Lion for a night cap.
The following morning we walked to Fitz & Follwell to begin our day en bicyclette. Mounting our Linus cruiser bikes, helmets in place, we toured through the Plateau Mont Royal, Mile End, Little Italy and Jean Talon Market, while our tour guide Martin extolled his knowledge of a city he clearly adores. Along the tour we stopped for delish bagels from St. Viateur’s, espresso’s, and lunch at the market, all while enjoying a relaxed tour of the beautiful Montreal streets. (After riding our bikes in Toronto, we were amazed with the courteous drivers and the numerous bike lanes already in place here.) Apres tour, we ended our day off with dinner at what some locals are calling the best Italian restaurant in the city, Primo & Secondo. Our table of four couldn’t help eating off each others plates, so I’m assuming what the locals say is true.
With the prominence of Bixi bikes, it only made sense that we took another spin ’round the city, this time, unfortunately unguided. But we end up at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to catch the Beyond Pop Art: Tom Wesselmann retrospective. On display, everything from college collages, to his famous American nudes and Lips series’, to his later work that are a clear mash up of the styles he employed throughout his long career. Wesselmann, though of the same vein as Warhol, et al, and not any less talented, hasn’t received quite the recognition as some of his peers, until now. The exhibit, on until October, is the first solo retrospective of the artists creations to hit North America. From indulging in art all morning, to indulgence of another kind, we popped by some of the amazing terrasse’s the Old Port has to offer. Think white wine sangria at Hotel Nelligan, and ceasar’s at Suite 701, before heading back to our lovely spot in the plateau for a relaxing dinner along the main drag.
And, as many will tell you, no trip to Montreal would be complete without a stop to the smoked meat deli that inspires line ups around the block. Serving the best brisket in town, Schwartz‘s delicatessen, open since 1928, is a must-draw on your way out of the city. Just make sure to get there before the lunchtime lineup starts to curl around the corner, shortly after noon.