First time to Montreal

Old Jan 24th, 2011, 04:42 PM
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First time to Montreal

My boyfriend and I are planning a vacation to Montreal in April.

So far, we have plans to take a day trip to Quebec City, but truth be told neither of us really know much about Montreal.

What do we HAVE to see? Where do we HAVE to go?

Also, an aside...Any good vegetarian restaurants that anyone is aware of?
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Old Jan 25th, 2011, 01:20 PM
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In Montreal, most visitors like to stroll around Old Montreal, the historic section between the main downtown area and the St. Lawrence River. Montreal is also famed for a great many good restaurants, vibrant night life/club scene, jazz, shopping. A day trip to Quebec City may be a bit ambitious as it's a 2 1/2 hour or longer drive each way, depending on traffic (which can be busy going out of and coming into Montreal). You might want to consider an overnight trip. In Quebec City, you'll want to spend your time in "Vieux Quebec" (Old Quebec), the historic walled 17th Century district and the main tourist area. You've probably done some research, but just in case, April can still be a bit on the cool side in both Montreal and Quebec City (i.e. probably won't be able to enjoy the many outdoor patios and cafes at that time of year)
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Old Jan 25th, 2011, 03:49 PM
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There are quite a number of good vegetarian options in Montreal proper. I'll mention the ones that come to mind as being most central for visitor-popular areas (there are some great ones that are more far-flung).

"le Commensal" is buffet style, with multiple locations in Montreal (downtown on McGill College near Ste. Catherine, St. Denis near Ontario) and one in Quebec City (860 rue St. Jean). I usually find something I like there.

"Aux Vivres" is vegan on boul. Saint Laurent between Mont-Royal and Villeneuve... pretty central if you're say thrift shopping/exploring the Plateau anyway

"Crudessence" is vegan, organic, innovative, excellent but a bit pricier too: on Rachel corner Saint-Urbain

"Chu Chai" or "Chuch" less expensive vegetarian Thai; mock duck, mock chicken Thai dishes on Saint-Denis near Rachel

That'll get you started... Have fun! Daniel
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Old Jan 26th, 2011, 02:05 AM
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I went to Montreal and Quebec City last September. Originally, I thought of doing Quebec City as a day trip from Montreal, but I realized it was 3 hrs by train or bus, I decided to split time between the two. If you drive, it's a boring drive, so there is really nowhere to stop. I took a bus, because it ran more frequently than the train.

These are two very different cities. Montreal is modern, busy, and energetic. Quebec City is quaint and charming.
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Old Jan 26th, 2011, 08:31 AM
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I am also planning a first visit to Montreal. Would love to find out if there are any Indian restaurants and Indian grocery stores close to the downtown area.Love Indian food and spices, so dont want to miss the opportunity.

Quebec City is really wonderful, so hope Op will enjoy the trip.
Old Quebec has lots to see and is historic. Food is amazing as you can get a variety of cuisines too.

Have a good day.
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Old Jan 27th, 2011, 06:04 AM
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My wife and I love going to the Biodome and I am sure you would enjoy it too. Do not confuse it with the Biosphere which would not be for you. Look it up on Google for more information. Also, it is worth noting that many restaurants in Montreal are byob - bring your own bottle- which can make for a cheaper meal.
One day is no use for a Quebec City visit. Take 2 days and go by bus or train. Pracice your French as well. Enjoy.
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Old Jan 27th, 2011, 06:59 AM
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our first visit to Montreal included a half day Grayline bus tour... great overview of the city along with backround commentary and history by the driver.. then we went back to the best areas from the tour...

they also have day tours from Montreal to Quebec City...
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Old Jan 29th, 2011, 07:33 AM
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There are Indian restaurants; my favourite is far outside the downtown core (Pushap it's called). Near downtown hmmmm... in Old Montreal, I've liked the restaurant Gandhi; Ambala on Saint-Denis (Plateau neighbourhood) I thought fine.

There's an area of more sizeable Indian population (west of Parc metro in the north centered around Jean Talon Blvd. I seem to recollect, too far to walk from downtown) near the northern reaches of the city where there are certainly restaurants and maybe Indian grocery stores, but I'm drawing a blank for near the downtown core.


PS Toronto I suspect will have more of what you seek than Montreal, as it's always struck me as having a much more sizeable Indian population.
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Old Jan 29th, 2011, 12:46 PM
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(Pushap it's called).

If it is Pushap on the corner of Pare and Mountain Sights, then there is a good chance that insect based protein will exceed the vegetarian content.

(Don't ask me how I know that)
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Old Jan 30th, 2011, 05:08 AM
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My son and his girlfriend who went to McGill liked the vegetarian restaurant Lola Rosa on Milton street near the university (downtown)

In addition to vegetarian restaurants, there are lots of places that are vegetarian-friendly

I am not sure what is a "must see" for anyone but I did want to take issue with the post above telling you to go to the Biodome, that the Biosphere would "not be for you." The Biodome is the better-known attraction with animals from different climate zones. I have never been much of a fan.
Our family really likes the Biosphere museum at parc Jean Drapeau on Isle St. Helene. It is built inside the biosphere (geodesic dome) designed by Buckminster Fuller for the American pavilion at the 1967 Expo. There are different special exhibits, and the main part of the museum has environmental exhibits including a big permanent exhibit on the St. Lawrence.
It is fascinating to see the biosphere dome itself and there are great views of the city from viewing platforms.
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Old Jan 30th, 2011, 06:43 AM
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I'll second Vttraveler's recommendation of Lola Rosa vegetarian although it's been awhile.

Cdnyul: So, that *is* the Pushap I meant (there is another one too, on Parc) and it has been a few years since I've been; it seemed reasonably priced, healthy, tasty and vegetarian at the time or so I thought (always liked their chickpea plate)...and fairly popular with friends working around Namur metro. And I loved the desserts they had on offer. Insects, eh? I'll need to investigate further.
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Old Jan 31st, 2011, 06:42 AM
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Contact the Quebec visitor's center ( and have them mail you the visitor's guides for Montreal and Quebec City. These free books are worth their weight in gold. If you do a search back on this site you will find a wealth of info on both cities. Yes, you can do Quebec City as a day trip, but it will be a very long day. 4 nights in Montreal and 2 in Quebec City is a much better option.
The biggest must do in Montreal is simply exploring the neighborhoods - if you walk up St. Laurent, you will pass thru Chinese, North African, Portuguese and Jewish areas, among others.
The Biodome is fun on a rainy day. Notre Dame is a must see, as is the old city itself. If you want to be immersed in a European feeling area of outdoor cafes, byob restaurants, and quiet tree lines streets, consider staying in the Plateau district. IF the weather is ok, another fun thing to do is rent a bicycle and see the city this way. There are miles of safe, protected bike trails that weave thru all neighborhoods, and Montreal is one of the world's great biking meccas.
As for veggie restaurants, we agree with Dan - Le Commensal is great fun, very good, and quite comfortable.
You should also visit the Jean Talon market near the Italian section. Jean Talon is an indoor/outdoor food market that covers several blocks, and is a good place for a vegetarian lunch.
Realize that April is a very unpredictable month in this part of the world - you may encounter anything from sunny mild days to sleet and snow.
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