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Trip Report Montreal & Granby - two trips to La Belle Province

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So far this summer, we have done two bike oriented trips to Quebec - two nights in Granby a month ago, and two nights in Montreal this past week.
We had never been to Granby, other than a brief stop last year on our bikes. Why Granby? If you look at a biking map of Quebec, you will see that the Granby area is the epi-center of miles of paved, flat bike trails. Very few US tourists realize that Quebec is considered to have the best network of bicycling trails in the world. Anyhow, we wound up staying at a rather non descript highway motel just outside the downtown. We found Granby to be not the most interesting little city - lots of highway sprawl, warehouses and strip malls. However, once out on the bike trails a mile or so from the city transports you to some very beautiful countryside. Mile after mile of flat or slightly rolling farmland interspersed with stretches of forest, and dotted with tiny church spired villages. The trails appear to be abandoned rail beds, some paved, some hard gravel - all very easy to travel. We sometimes would venture off onto quiet two lane blacktops to have a picnic lunch on some village green. Granby has plenty of 'Denny's' type eateries along the highway, so we considered ourselves lucky to find a pleasant little sidewalk Asian place downtown that was a byob. Our second dinner was in a strip mall, at a place called Eggs Oasis. We choose this place because it was crowded with locals, and had a nice outdoor patio. 'Eggs Oasis' is actually a misleading name since they actually had a very varied menu, and the food was first rate. In summary, unless you are visiting the Granby Zoo, or want to do a lot of bicycling, Granby is not the best vacation destination - other Quebec towns like Magog are much more scenic and interesting.
Our most recent foray into Canada was to Montreal - probably our 20th trip there in the past 15 years. Each time we go, we seem to enjoy it even more. As we usually do, we stayed at one of the many b&b's in the Plateau area. Our choice this time was the Bienvenue on Laval, close to Duluth. Although the rooms were a bit dowdy, the place was clean, the owners were extremely accomodating, and the location was a 10. Again we brought our bikes and did many miles of biking throughout the city. On a bike you can easily explore parts of the city you might never see otherwise, and the locals seem to use their bikes to get around more than in any other city I've been to. One of our treks was up to Jean Talon Market, a sprawling complex of indoor and outdoor stalls of produce, flowers, cheeses, honey, baked goods, etc. A foodie's nirvana. While we were taking a break and enjoying a mango smoothie in the heart of the market, we saw a camera crew following two men around the market. That was Anthony Bourdain! my wife shouted to me. Sure enough it was. Just another experience in a city we find full of fun memories. Since we were staying a block from Duluth, a street lined with interesting byob restaurants, both of our dinners were here. The first night was at our favorite - Le Jardan de Panos - a lively and popular Greek brochette place with a wonderful backyard patio, packed with people having a great time. Our second dinner was at Lotus Bleu, an Asian restaurant on Duluth 1/2 block west of St. Denis. Again the food was excellent, and the service was top notch. As always Montreal provided us with a great time, and we can't wait to go back!

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