A perfect day in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue

Promenade Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue

Alexandra Gauthier

This article was updated on February 2, 2024.

The island of Montréal is host to many unique municipalities with vibrant local cultures. Among those is Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, home to McGill University's Macdonald Campus, where simple luxuries such as farmers' markets and waterfront dining are part of daily life. Accessible and inviting, the town's diverse array of activities and culinary offerings make it an ideal destination for family day trips and date nights alike.



Located at the westernmost tip of the island of Montréal, a mere 25-minute drive from the city centre, is the charming waterfront town of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Nestled between Lac des Deux Montagnes and Lac Saint-Louis, at the confluence of the St-Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, there’s little wonder why the town’s name “de Bellevue” translates to “of the beautiful view”. Home to all manner of local artisans, farmers, historians, activists, academics and entrepreneurs of all ages, Sainte-Anne never fails to capture the hearts of those who visit it. Below are a few examples to showcase how this little town au bout de l’île has small and active culture—and tourist industry—all its own.


One of the more active ways to enjoy the town's eponymous beautiful view is right on the water. Enter Paddle Mac by McGill's Macdonald Campus, which offers hourly kayak and paddle board rentals and instruction. Team up for a kayak ride for two or explore Lac St. Louis on a solo adventure in a single boat. Up for some core-strengthening exercise? Take a paddle board onto the placid waters for an aquatic meditative experience, or up the ante with a party paddle board for the whole family. For the interested but inexperienced, never fear: Paddle Mac offers a two-hour introductory class on the basics for both individuals and small groups, perfect for your next corporate team building outing or birthday party. For a decidedly different marine experience where you're more on the water than in the water, consider chartering your own private cruise with Croisière Privée; the boat service offers 4-hour rental blocks, a maximum of 15 guests per boat, and a BYOB experience—ahoy, relaxation!

If its a weekend day trip youve found yourself on, youre in for a treat. During the summer months, the many vendors that make up the Marché Ste-Anne set up in the waterfront Parc Lalonde from 9 am to 2 pm every Saturday. Locally-sourced treats include fruit and vegetables from nearby farms (much of it organic), baked goods, jams, local honey, fresh eggs, cheeses, meats, and ready-to-eat snacks. Alongside the edibles, you can find hand-crafted wearables and decorations by talented locals as well. Weekday visitors to Sainte-Anne need not leave empty-handed, either: the Mac Market operates its kiosks every day from July into November, selling seasonal goods harvested fresh from McGill's agricultural campus. 

Local merchants are dotted along Sainte-Anne Street—the town's main thoroughfare—where you're sure to find a little something for everyone. Among these businesses is department store G. DAoust & Cie, a time-honoured community staple that has served generations of locals since 1900! Sainte-Anne is also home to a Thrift Shop for NOVA, a volunteer-run, non-profit thrift store where proceeds go to social services; hunt for treasure and support a wonderful charity all in one visit. Youll also want to check out Pragaï Couture for thoughtful, hand-selected fashion and B Factory, specializing in eco-friendly beeswax products made here in Québec. Sainte-Anne is, at its heart, a student town (home to both Macdonald High School and John Abbott College, along with the aforementioned McGill campus), which reflect in institutions like The Cool Shop, streetwear vintage boutique Station 13, and the bright, colourful, and extraordinarily fun all-ages Singh's Arcade.

Arrive hungry when you’re visiting Sainte-Anne, as your options are vast and varied. Day trippers can kick off with a breakfast or brunch on the charming cobblestone patio of Café Au Bout de L'Isle, served til 3 p.m. every day they're open. Local favourite Café TWIGS perfects homey lunch classics such as soups and sandwiches and boasts a variety of enticing dessert options in a cozy, mosaic-tile setting. Ambulatory snacking options are also abound, such as bubble tea at Pàng Tea, Insta-worthy treats at Panda Donuts, delicate Hungarian pastries at Château Euro, and freshly-baked breads at Boulangerie Darling. Meanwhile, if you're the type  of person whose interest piques at the words "battered, golden, and fried", the long-standing Restaurant Basile offers a fish 'n chips plate that will surely appeal. Go for the famed chicken wings and stay for the happy hour at Cunninghams Pub, where you can often catch live music as night falls. Finally, a late-night pitcher with friends is always made better with a lakeside view, and while the boardwalk has no shortage of options, beloved raucous mainstay Annies Sur Le Lac will get you in a party mood. 

For a more traditional sit-down dinner, the town of Sainte-Anne has no shortage of international options to suit any mood and palate. Indian gem Tandoori Bellevue's sensory appeal is equal parts great food and charming ambiance, while diners seeking Thai cuisine will find thoughtfully prepared plates at Chalet Thai for either takeout or dining in on the lakeside terrasse. Sharing is caring with Spanish-style tapas at OLÉ which offers a selection of small, shared plates and a robust drink menu, or saddle up to the counter at Mont Brise, a Japanese restaurant of city-wide acclaim known for its passion, authenticity, and craftsmanship. Another among Sainte-Anne's waterfront establishments is the chic comptoir gourmand Le Bienheureux, doing new school fine dining right with seasonal-ingredient sharing plates, fresh shucked oysters, and a wine list to suit every palate (they also have luxe weekend brunches). Old school player Le Surcouf is known for its French cuisine and has been running strong since 1976, while famed local institution La Fondue Du Prince invites you to come take a dip into the art of fondue. We should also mention—or perhaps warn—that there’s no shortage of ice cream, frozen yogurt, or gelato (oh my!) along the Sainte-Anne main stretch—so be sure to leave some space for (second) dessert!

Ste-Anne Street is the town's main commercial artery, but the Promenade du Canal is its cultural heart. Dormant in the deepest winter months, the boardwalk comes alive as the weather warms and stays active through to the end of the holiday season. Town-sponsored events are held throughout the summer season, such as free, live concerts from July to September, with Wednesday night shows that kick off at 7:30 p.m. Weekend visitors can catch performances in Parc Lalonde from 5 p.m. every Saturday of the summer as well, soon after the market vendors pack up. And if you happen to be around a Thursday evening, don't miss the public line dancing classes that run through the summer season. While there's always fun to be had, keep an eye out for specialty events throughout the high season as well, such as the celebration for Québec's National Holiday, Naturally Ste-Anne, or the late summer Garlic Festival. 


Ecomuseum Zoo


Round out your day by getting closer to nature, starting with a visit to the animals at the Ecomuseum Zoo, the only outdoor zoo on the island of Montréal. Follow that up with a nature walk through the Morgan Arboretum, a beautiful 245-acre forested reserve. Are your interests less earthbound? Aeronautics enthusiasts—or anyone who understands aerial navigation is cool—are invited to peruse the fascinating history and artifacts at the Montreal Aviation Museum.

Day or night, no trip to Sainte-Anne is complete without a leisurely-paced stroll past the bridge, across the historic locks, and all the way down to the tip of the upstream jetty. A National Historic Site, the view of Lac des Deux-Montagnes from the jetty is both serene and full of life, where you can watch an uninterrupted sunset, birds diving for fish, or the occasional personal watercraft courageously taking on the nearby rapids.

Simultaneously peaceful and vibrant, classic and eclectic, this lakeside West Island town is a treasure to all who know it. Accessible and welcoming, Sainte-Anne bids you bienvenue to the Bellevue!

Alexandra Gauthier

Alexandra Gauthier is a young Montrealer who loves to eat, drink and be merry with friends in neighbourhoods all over the city.

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