Christmas Weekend in Montreal - feedback

Dec 24th, 2002, 06:22 AM
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Christmas Weekend in Montreal - feedback


For those of you considering a Christmas or winter weekend in Montreal as well as those who provided advice, here is how our 3 day weekend went.

City is very nice at Christmas time but not as special as some other cities. Topics covered here include:

I) Christmas happenings
II) Other sightseeing
III) Shopping
IV) Dining
V) Opportunities to speak French
VI) Hotel

I) Christmas Happenings
1) Nativity Exhibit at St Joseph’s oratory – over 200 displays from over 100 countries very well displayed. Wonderful. St Joseph’s itself is amazing any time of year.
2) Nutcracker at Place des Arts – of course great. And for $US 45 we got 7th row center! (apologies to Canadians for bringing up exchange rate)

II) Other sightseeing
1) Musee de Archeologee – not usually what I would do but had an exhibit on Bulgaria (where I used to live) which was very great – world’s first gold. Multimedia presentation was very cool also.
2) Basilica de Notre Dame – has to be seen to be believed. The architect – an Irish-American Protestant was so taken by his work that he converted to Catholicism!
3) St Josephs – see above comments

III) Shopping
1) Vieux Montreal – 80% tacky and horrible. Marche Bonsecours better but still a mixed bag. The further east you go the better. A great store for wine lovers on eastern St. Paul
2) Salon des Metiers d’art de Quebec – huge craft show in exhibition hall. Although we didn’t buy anything we really liked it
3) Jean Toulon Market – biggest produce market in Montreal. Fun in winter – supposedly more lively in summer. Not too much to buy as a tourist (although my friend got some unusual honey) but a good way to see the local scene.
4) Rue Mont Royal – hip boutiques drawing a local youthful crowd. Interesting restaurants for lunch. Reminded me of SoHo in NYC.
5) St. Denis – more upscale stores

Dec 24th, 2002, 06:23 AM
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IV) Dining
1) Dinner – went to 2 restaurants recommended here and confirmed by local on the plane – both excellent
A) Café Ferreira – Portuguese. No tables when we arrived w/o a reservation but they put us at the bar which was unusually nice. Most people at bar were eating. Good food, nice ambiance, really good service.
B) L’Express – upscale French bistro. Good food and service. Very reasonably priced.
2) Lunch – only one sit down meal. Chez Clos – recommended local eatery (basically a diner) in eastern Montrea (metro Prefontainel. Only place I could speak French. Met nice locals. Got assiette Quebecois(Quebec Plate) and Assiette Noel (Christmas Plate) w/o knowing what they were. Both heavy on meat and Quebecois had a huge and ugly thing which we learned was pigs leg which was pretty tasty once we got over the appearance.

V) Ability to speak Francais – limited. As an American who learned French from France, I found understanding the Quebecois challenging. When most people heard my accent, they switched to English or continued only to humor me. One exception was Chez Clo (see dining above)

VI) Hotel (posted on my other thread – if you have already read, please ignore)

Montreal Delta on Avenue Kennedy - US$62 plus tax

Price - can't be beat!!

Room - based on some Internet comments, requested a "renovated" room and it was excellent! Large L shaped room (bigger than many NYC studios) with balcony and view. Large bathroom.

Health Club - supposedly the best in Montreal. Even has a squash court! Pool and jacuzzi. Also a spa (got a massage for half the price at home)

Location - convenient. 5 min from Place Des Arts (and practically on top of metro station)

Charm - none

Concierge - WORST I have ever experienced! I have gotten better service at $10 a night hostels! Approached 4 DIFFERENT concierges each with a different request and got no help! As an example, asked one if he could tell us about an attraction and he said "no, I've never been there". I wasn't asking about his personal life just for his professional assistance! They were so horrible I felt the need to tell management about it.

So yes, absolutely no charm and lame concierge but for $62 it was a steal for a completely decent hotel w/ a good location and fitness center.

All in all, a nice 3 day weekend! Hope this is informative for those of you considering a trip and interesting to others. Thanks for your advice and Happy Holidays.
Dec 24th, 2002, 06:43 AM
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Susan, that's great that you enjoyed Cafe F and sat at the bar! I always thought that the bar was just where they parked people who wanted a drink while they wait for a table. Good to know, although we always book before we leave home, knowing how busy they always are.
Didn't you find L'Express terribly crowded and smokey? We had to leave the one time we were there, absolutely unable to breathe! That is the time we "discovered" Toque! THis is of course, years ago, but we wandered across the street (rue St Denis) and jsut walked in and asked if we needed reservations and they seated us right away. Toque is always on our list of must go to, and they never let us down.
If you think Vieux POrt is tacky, you should go in the summer! I personally find it more charming in the winter, less touristy and a small remaining feeling of what it looked like "back then" the summer it is impossible to walk on the sidewalks!
If you never made it to Mont Royal to just walk around the park, try to go next time in warm weather. The view is amazing and it is a lovely park.
See ya in Montreal~Kate
Dec 27th, 2002, 07:33 PM
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Re L'Express, we had a pretty good experience. I'm pretty sensitive to smoke and I didn't have a problem so maybe it depends on when you go. We had a 10:30 reservation and arrived a bit early so stood by the bar. It was full but not uncomfortably so. Our waiter was nice - and very handsome!

Kate - did you used to live in Montreal and now live somewhere else?
Dec 28th, 2002, 06:17 PM
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I wish! No, I have never lived in Montreal, my husband and I just visit often.

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