This day trip arose during a long weekend in the Adirondacks while spending time with our friends, Lauren and Ben. Hoping for a weekend of skiing, rainy weather and a warm spurt forced us to consider alternatives. We decided that one of our day trips would be a two hour drive to Montreal- a day trip to another country always sounds like a good idea! We fortunately all had our passports and our recent trip to Paris had our french at the ready- we were good to go.
Breakfast: Le Magasin General du Vieux-Montreal
Located near the St Lawrence River, we found this cafe that was half a general store filled with farmhouse fair including jewelry, kitchen necessities and house decor, and half a bistro serving up pastries, sandwiches and coffee variations. The inside was picturesque- distressed wood, dim lighting, piano in the center of the bistro- it was cozy on this cold morning. We ordered a sampling of the menu- some pastries, sandwiches, and salads along with different hot beverages from coffee to hot honey milk! Knowing we were going to be doing a marathon of eating since we only had a few hours in a new city, we left pleasantly full and happy with our find with Le Magasin!
Our next stop was the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal. There was a $12 admission fee that caused us a brief hiccup. The payment needed to be in cash (disappointing) but they took US dollar (better) but we didn’t have the exact dollars for the total but our change was in Canadian dollar (not disclosed before payment) so we were forced to carry over sever Canadian dollars in coins (our goal was to not need any currency since we had credit cards that work abroad). Fortunately, the church was gorgeous. It was decorated quite uniquely with accents of blue lighting to emphasize the elaborate art work. There was also a chapel in the back that was all gold and wood carvings that was quite impressive.
We continued on and began to stroll and stumbled upon the Festival Montreal en Lumiere where several streets in downtown are closed and pop up tents of food, activities, a zip line, and more are set up. While we did not stay late enough for the light show, from what we heard (and saw on Google images) the place is decked out with lights and also feature concert series. Ben was around for this festival last year with friends and claims it is well worth the visit if you are around (and can stand the cold!). And it was already cold enough this day (I even had fleece lined leggings on under my jeans!).
With hunger striking again, on Kevin’s must-do list was poutine so in our vicinity we found Frite Alors. Along with beverages (variety of beer, cider, etc) we got an order of la vladimir (their traditional poutine) and la canarduck (pulled duck and homemade rib sauce). Fries, gravy, cheese, meat- it was delightful!
We bopped into and out of a bar or two until we found Juliette & Chocolat. As a choco-holic, I insisted on the detour into the intense chocolate smelling cafe. A menu on all sorts of chocolate was handed to us- chocolates as desserts, as drinks, as tastings, from sundaes, to brownies, to solid chocolate bars, to ice cream, from melted chocolate,e hot chocolate, chocolate milkshakes, not to mention the different percentages of chocolate for more variation- there were endless options that almost overloaded my brain. Oh, and not to mention all the crepes and salads, but we were not here for that (though they all looked lovely!) Were we hungry? Absolutely not. That did not stop us from drooling over the chocolate menu. After a very thought out decision, I settled on the chocolate milkshake with 55% dark chocolate (and I was very very happy with my decision). Kevin got the Granda’s style hot chocolate with 70% dark chocolate, and Lauren and Ben got the dark chocolate tasting with Peru 65%, Uganda 80% and Mangaro 65% chocolate. We enjoyed our chocolate delights as we watched the sky open and rain pour (good thing we had these tiny umbrellas!)
Knowing we had to be more strategic in our selections for the rest of the day due to the continued rain, after dessert we popped into a bar close to the chocolate cafe, McKibbins Irish Pub, for happy hour delights as we planned the rest of our day.
Over drinks, we focused our search for dinner on french cuisine and our (well, Lauren’s) results lead us to Les Deux Gamins– a french bistro that was a reasonable walk in the rain. Arriving at 5:30PM when they opened, we had the entire place to ourselves for most of our dinner (it really did pour the rest of the night- wonder how that festival made it through the night!). We decided to get a bunch of plates (menu is amazing!) to share so we could all have the chance to trying many items on the menu. Ordering the recommended Minervois of Chateau de Gourgazuag to accompany the following: beef tartar, fois gras, french onion soup, escargot with tomatoes, arugula and red peppers, duck confit, and salon filet. Everything was not only amazing, but very affordable. We all would definitely recommend this stop.
Happy with our progress of the day, we headed back to the cabin, which ended up being a treacherous drive in blizzard conditions, having accomplished a day trip to another country! Montreal definitely warrants more time to discover it, but I like what I have seen so far- a mini Paris not to far away. What would be your must hit if you had a day in Montreal?