Go green: an eco-friendly stay in Montréal
Montréal, a green city? Absolutely! Discover our top 10 for a totally green stay.
Catch some Zzzzzzzzzs
Enjoy sweet dreams at either one of these choice establishments whose souci for the environment is always at the heart of things. At the pretty Cœur Urbain B&B, certified by Terroir et Saveurs du Québec, choose from five chic and refined rooms that boast green touches like bedding and towels made from organic cotton. You can wake up to gourmet breakfasts of homemade and local products in this lovely early-1920s building too. For a more downtown design experience, book at the Alt Hotel, in the industrial-chic neighbourhood of Griffintown, for its buoyant mix of flashy colour and environmentally responsible construction.
Give your Montréal vacation a green edge by booking at one of the following hotels, handpicked by Tourisme Montréal: the fully renovated Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, the sublime Le Mount Stephen Hotel, the modern and minimalist Boxotel and the ultra-chic Le Crystal are first in class for environmental consciousness.
Enjoy the city’s culinary scene
When it comes to dining, new Québec cuisine gets glowing reviews for its farm-to-table goodness. Tourisme Montréal teamed up with specialized publishing firm VIATAO to create a list of “green” restaurants in Montréal, based on its environmental criteria as well as social, economic and cultural factors. Our top picks from this list include Le St-Urbain, Pastaga and H4C, exquisite eateries that employ exceptional practices.
Vegans, look no further and show your taste buds the love at LOV, Aux Vivres and La panthère verte. You can also dig into the palate-popping freshness and creativity of the local ingredients at Hvor, Candide, Chez Victoire, Mousso, Manitoba or the Restaurant de l’ITHQ. Craving a proper fish and chips? Head to Brit & Chips, where you’ll be served fish from a sustainable catch. For a hearty sandwich and homemade lemonade, check out Café Santropol, a veritable garden of Eden. Brunch lovers won’t want to miss the organic, local and environmentally-responsible version of their meal of choice at La Récolte Espace Local. Lastly, in the zero waste category, order the vegan brunch at Le 5e, served every Sunday morning in Verdun. Make the trip even merrier by scouting out this typical Montréal neighbourhood.
A spa on water—oooh! The floating Bota Bota, eco-conscious from stern to bow, uses a geothermal-like system to heat and cool its temple of transcendence. Taken from the St. Lawrence River, the energy created is entirely green and completely renewable. Aside from the technicalities, the spa pampers guests with Baborganic treatments, full of natural and organic ingredients culled from the Alps as well as BPA- and animal cruelty-free vegan products of SpaRitual. Plus, you get to enjoy one of Montréal’s best views while you bliss out!
Where to camp
Need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? Just a few kilometres from downtown Montréal, Huttopia’s ready-to-camp formula lets you kick back in nature, totally hassle-free. Take the metro, bus, then ferry to the Île Grosbois in the Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville and stay in one of its cozy tents. Special note for packing: you have to bring your own sleeping bags and pillows. For more information, visit sepaq.com.
Learn to surf
Surf, SUP, SUP-yoga or kayak: what’s your thing? Learn to do them all on the bouncy or smooth waters of the St. Lawrence River. KSF calls itself “a family that’s expanding on the banks of the St. Lawrence”, and shares a palpable passion for adventure, nature and water. Unforgettable, environmental experiences guaranteed. Ready, set, surf and paddle to your heart’s content!
What to see and do
Back on dry land, check out the seasonal outdoor spaces created by La Pépinière, a creative incubator that encourages community involvement. Don’t miss Les Jardineries on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life, a fine example of eco-sustainability with a family focus. You can explore a honey meadow, a vegetable garden and a chicken coop and enjoy hammocks and pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven in this lush spot at the foot of the Olympic Stadium. A slice of country in the city!
Hop on an electric scooter and zoom around Montréal’s different neighbourhoods committed to green initiatives in the company of an expert guide. The guided tour offered by Passion Earth lets you explore the city’s green back alleys, urban parks, and an old railway yard that’s been revamped. Go up to the rooftop garden of the Palais des congrès, where you can learn more about urban agriculture. Download the free mobile app Parcours verts et actifs : J’ai ma ruelle à cœur, an initiative by the Regroupement des éco-quartiers that showcases the prettiest examples of green back alleys in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Sud-Ouest and Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie.
How to get around
With bike rental places and tours organized city-wide (Ma Bicyclette, Fitz and Follwell, Ça roule Montréal, BIXI and Spade & Palacio), 645 km of bike paths and many places to stop for a bite to eat, bike tours are a must. If you feel like taking it easy (Montréal is such a great city for that), just rent a bike, scooter or electric scooter at Dyad. Make it even sweeter with a stop at the Jean-Talon, Atwater, Saint-Jaques or Maisonneuve Markets to pick up fresh local products then make your way to Lafontaine, Jeanne-Mance, Laurier or Jarry Park. Not only will you have a tasty pop-up picnic to enjoy, but you’ll discover many Montréal neighbourhoods along the way. Our lush back alleys are a great way to see the city’s green side too!
Otherwise, hop on public transit and zip around the city on the STM’s bus and metro network. Need a cab? Download the app from the Téo Taxi network, which features electric cars and free Wi-Fi.
Try culinary activities
After bike tours, let’s roll right into the city’s culinary scene. Round Table Tours takes you deep into Montréal’s gourmet universe and business models based on environmental responsibility. The “Nourishing City: Montreal’s Living Table” tour takes you to urban farmers, food production sites and restaurants, and you get to take part in a healthy cooking workshop too.
Sweet tooths won’t want to miss the chance to take a pastry class at the Maison Christian Faure.
Explore Mount Royal
You can’t come to Montréal and not visit Mount Royal, our little gem of a “mountain”. The lungs of the city, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape artist of New York’s Central Park, and our big backyard is great for exploring by food, bike, cross-country skis or snowshoes. In winter, Les Amis de la montagne, a non-profit organization that looks after Mount Royal, offers “City Lights” snowshoeing excursions, an illuminating experience that comes with hot chocolate.
Visit cultural centres
Culture thrives in Montréal! The biggest complex in Canada dedicated to science and nature, the Space for Life consists of four prestigious Montréal institutions the Biodome, the Insectarium, the Botanical Garden and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Enjoy immersive, exciting and educational journey where wee and old are wowed by natural and scientific wonders.
The TOHU pavilion, a perfect example of LEED gold-certified architecture in Canada, is a hub for dissemination, creation, experimentation and where culture, environment and the community converge. Not only is TOHU home to the North America’s first circular performance space dedicated to the circus arts, but it also provides privileged access to the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex. Go see!
Lastly, the Centre for Sustainable Development, the first LEED® Platinum NC-certified building in Québec, offers guided visits, meetings and panels on key issues in sustainable development.
Shop for local products
As you wander through Montréal’s vibrant neighbourhoods, make sure to pop into boutiques specializing in ethical and local fashions. One of our favourites is Harricana par Mariouche, recognized worldwide for its clothes and objects fashion from recycled fur, cashmere and silk. The doors to the atelier are always open, allowing the public to get an inside peek into the creative process and the chance to chat with the artisans.
After, make your way to Maison Jacynthe Montréal, a combination boutique/urban salon and Québec company that specializes in 100% natural and vegan beauty products. You can also pamper yourself with treatments like pedicures and purchase some cute gifts to take home too.
Put your money where your mouth is by buying an adorable little black dress from Betina Lou, a backpack or purse made from recycled plastic bottles from Matt & Nat or a Québec creation from Unicorn. Inhale the wonderful aromas of homemade hand soaps with a retro design from Dot & Lil as well as some urban honey made her by Alvéole.
Laure Juilliard, blogger
Laure is a writer, community manager and the founder of the blog Une Parisienne à Montréal. She’s also an epicurean globetrotter who’s always on the hunt for innovative concepts and must-try restaurants. In 2016, she co-founded Slow Journeys, a webzine that focuses on ecotourism and design.
To see the list of our regular contributors, click here.