Spring break in Montréal: a getaway “à deux”

Laure Juilliard

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.

With the reopening of museums and stores, not to mention cool staycation getaway offers in Montréal hotels, it’s the perfect time to take a break from the daily grind and enjoy romantic moments with that special someone. Here are some suggestions to get you started. Don’t forget to reserve in advance and, of course, respect all the health measures in place.

All around Montréal

Get to know another neighbourhood better on professionally guided private walking tours with your sweetheart: architecture, history, murals and even ghosts are sure to brighten up your walks. Located throughout the island of Montréal, 28 winter stations (designed by the Bureau du Design de Montréal in collaboration with numerous creative collectives) are ready to welcome visitors at a friendly social distance, of course. Add free parking downtown on weekends and you won’t break the bank while exploring the city with that special someone.

Old Port and Old Montréal

A stroll along the cobblestones of Old Montréal always adds a touch of romance. Such a beautiful neighbourhood! Start your walk with a coffee and croissants to go from Tommy, whose historic architecture is sure to charm. And don't miss the exquisite Maison Christian Faure, whose reputation for pastries is legendary.

Continue along to Saint-Paul Street for a stroll framed with beautiful boutiques and galleries. We especially recommend the stylish Maison Pepin boutique, a sort of creative laboratory for well-being at home, Le Petit Dep, a lovely little shop brimming with sweets and gifts from local producers, the Galerie d'Art Inuit Images Boréales, featuring traditional and contemporary works by Inuit artists, and Galerie Héritage specializing in authentic objects from the craft traditions of the Far North.

Then climb aboard a cozy heated cabin on the Grande Roue de Montréal, Canada’s highest observation wheel. Snuggle together as you climb 60 metres in the air to take in views as far as 28 km away in clear weather – talk about exploring new horizons! With your feet back on the ground, head over to the PHI Centre, which is currently exhibiting the special event Parallel Lines, where you can interact with the creations of 10 local artists in residency. If you want to unwind together, take a break at the Bota-Bota floating spa, docked on the St. Lawrence River, where you can get relaxing massages in a chic and refined setting.

As curfew approaches, pick up dinner to go from one of the many famous restaurants in the neighbourhood: Graziella, for a perfect Italian touch, Ikanos for fine Greek flavours and a fabulous raw fish bar, or Maison St-Paul, known for their focus on local products, and a cuisine that features fresh seafood and fine cuts of meat. And, of course, their selection of imported wines and bubbly add the perfect touch to a romantic meal for two.

If you decide instead to spend the night (or even a day) at a hotel, you’ve got lots of great choices at very attractive prices. The Hôtel William Gray, Hôtel Gault, Hôtel Place d’Armes and Le Petit Hôtel, are just some of your options in the historic quarter. Enjoy an aperitif, dinner and breakfast in your room, add a massage, or keep the room for the day – there are lots of ways to create a memorable romantic getaway, right in your own city.

Downtown and the Village

The museums are reopening at last, so you can finally get that culture fix you've been craving. Reserve your tickets now to see these stunning exhibitions: Riopelle: The call of northern landscapes and Indigenous cultures at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, works from the Musée d’art contemporain’s collection, presented in the form of temporary exhibitions, and the Christian Dior exhibition at the McCord Museum.

Immerse your senses in an experience designed to connect to what matters today through powerful visual projections and stunning sound at OASIS immersion.

When it comes to shopping, the choice is endless. Explore the underground pedestrian network to connect to Complexe Desjardins, the Eaton Centre, Place Montreal Trust, Les Cours Mont-Royal and Place Ville Marie. If you prefer to stroll hand-in-hand in the fresh air, Sainte-Catherine Street is great for shopping and people watching, and it connects to many of these shopping malls. For a touch of luxury, the newly renovated Holt Renfrew Ogilvy is a must.

Feeling peckish? Treat yourself to the little Portuguese dishes at Portus360 or Ferreira Café.

Quartiers du Canal and the Sud-Ouest

Another day, another adventure! Explore the very dynamic southwest neighbourhoods of Montréal for a day of shopping just a stone's throw from the St. Lawrence River. Start your journey on Promenade Wellington, a friendly neighbourhood street in Verdun with lots of great shops, eateries and hidden gems (although the secret is out now on most of them!). Don't miss the beautiful Harricana boutique by Mariouche, a pioneer in the design of recycled fur since 1983. Then go for a leisurely stroll with your sweetheart along the Lachine Canal.

Stop at the Atwater Market for a quick lunch, and turn onto Notre-Dame Street West, which is positively packed with amazing shops and gourmet stops like Boucherie Grinder, à la Bête à pain Griffintown, Marché Le Richmond, Patrice Pâtissier and Perles et Paddock, to name but a few.

Plateau, Mile End and Outremont

Make it a date on Mount Royal, an oasis of nature in the heart of the city. Take a walk or rent snowshoes or cross-country skis from Les Amis de la Montagne co-op for a breath of fresh air and breathtaking views of the city. Do you and your sweetheart want to discover Montréal’s vibrant urban art scene? Book a private guided tour with Space & Palacio for a colourful, open-air art walk along Saint-Laurent Boulevard.

Follow up with a bit of shopping on Mont-Royal Avenue, then head north towards Mile End for a hot bagel fresh out of the wood-fired oven at Fairmount or St-Viateur bagel. You’ll find it hard to pick a favourite!

Little Italy and Villeray

The star of the neighbourhood is undoubtedly the famous Jean-Talon Market. Order a coffee and stroll through the colourful stalls that are sure to tempt you to fill up your shopping bags. Then go down to the newly renovated Plaza St-Hubert to discover everything from ultra-stylish to very traditional shops – truly an amazing and refreshing mix of genres. Among our favorites are the Ausgang Plaza and the Montréal Plaza Restaurant, where you can order a sumptuous take-out dinner for two.

Hang on to your hats, there are more than 400 businesses to discover! In Little Italy and Villeray, release your inner gourmet. You’re sure to love Impasto, Pastaga, Lou (Gus), Tandem, Mesón and Tapeo. End a perfect afternoon with a walk in Jarry Park around its beautiful pond to work off all those delicious calories.

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and the East

Travel to the newly renovated Biodome for an enchanting journey through the various ecosystems of the Americas, from lush forest, maple groves, the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and the Labrador coasts. For a stroll in the open air, the Botanical Garden is an ode to nature and makes for a romantic and relaxing walk. Wrap up your day with the comforting cuisine to go at Les Canailles (take out from Thursday to Saturday only).

Parc Jean-Drapeau

Spanning two islands in the St. Lawrence, this magnificent park offers 25 km of multi-use trails, and is an absolute delight for nature and culture lovers. Wander together along paths studded with some of the city's most famous works of public art, including Alexander Calder’s iconic sculpture, Trois disques. A free podcast is available on the Portrait Sonore mobile application, if you and your sweetheart want to share a pair of earbuds and explore the 15 works of public art that adorn St-Hélène and Notre-Dame islands.

 

Enjoy your break!

Laure Juilliard

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.

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