Montreal Suggestions?

Old Jan 1st, 2012, 05:54 AM
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Montreal Suggestions?

We are considering a trip to Montreal during 2012.

We are in our mid-60's and enjoy traveling to see architecture, gardens, good food, etc. Basically nothing unusual in our preferences.

We will be arriving via train.

None of us have been there so we are asking the following, any recommendations for:

Centrally located hotel in safe area that would enable us to do some walking (a very nice hotel that provides a great experience...expense is not too much an issue)

Restaurants

"Must see" sights or things to do

Trip would be a long weekend timeline with arrival Thurs. PM and departure Monday or Tuesday...so ~3 or 4 days max.

I would like to thank anyone who responds in advance for taking the time to provide your thoughts.
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Old Jan 1st, 2012, 05:56 AM
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Oopps....forgot, suggestions on best time of year to enjoy the city....Spring, Summer or Fall?
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Old Jan 1st, 2012, 06:32 AM
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Summer,unless you hit a heat wave, is in my opinion the best time of year to enjoy the city. Fall I like too, but the earlier in the fall the better.

It's tough to hit a truly "unsafe" neighborhood unless you're looking for it ... most aim for Old Montreal, Downtown or the Plateau Mont-Royal for a central location. Montreal to me is less a city about "must-sees" and more about strolling & soaking up the energy of the city. In your strolls, I would check out Parc Mont-Royal, Parc Lafontaine (on a nice day for the previous two) and stroll in the three neighbourhoods I listed above. If you like markets, the Jean Talon and Atwater Markets are worth a look.

You mention you like gardens; the botanical gardens are lovely. There are MANY good restaurants in Montreal, so I hardly know how to begin to advise. Tell us what varieties of food you really like to narrow things down. I tend to go for healthy, home-cooked, often vegetarian cuisine within a budget more than high-end, so if this style of restaurants is what appeals, let me know and I'll be more than happy to steer you in this direction.

Hope you enjoy Montreal! Daniel
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Old Jan 1st, 2012, 09:57 AM
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One thing that I would suggest is booking a city tour right away. It gives you a great overview of the city and then you can go back to any of the areas, buildings, parks etc that you want to spend time at. We did that even though my husband is from Montreal he hadn't been back for years and thoroughly enjoyed it as much had changed since he was there. The bus tour is excellent and they will pick you up at your hotel.

I love that city and the food!!!!!
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Old Jan 1st, 2012, 10:17 AM
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My husband and I are approaching your age range and we last spent a few days in Montreal in June. Here is some of what we enjoyed in that and other recent visits:

To Stay: We like to stay in Old Montreal. If you are walkers, you can walk the whole downtown from there in addition to the Port and of course strolling Old Montreal itself which is something you'll want to spend time doing. We also walked as far as the Plateau one day and wandered that area. If price is not an issue you should investigate some of the lovely Old Montreal Boutique Inns, many of which are listed in: http://www.go-montreal.com/areas_oldmontreal_hotel.htm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is very good. In June we spent most of a day at the Botanical Gardens and I agree with Daniel Williams that they are lovely. One one visit we took our grandkids to Biodome and although considered a "family" attraction, it is very close to the Botanical Gardens and would have appeal for all ages. (These last 2 are not walking distance from downtown but a relatively easy cab ride).

As Daniel points out there are so many restaurants in Montreal, some quite famous. On our last trip we really enjoyed Chez L'Epicier which is in Old Montreal. I'm blanking out on another Old Montreal restaurant we've enjoyed a couple of times, at the other end of Old Montreal and with an outdoor patio in a grassy square across the street (there was an archaeological dig going on adjacent to this when we visited last summer, which might jog the name from one of the locals who read this?)
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Old Jan 1st, 2012, 01:17 PM
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Hello, ddschur,
Montreal is one of my favorite cities. I prefer to stay in the downtown area. I like Omni Hotel which is located at Sherbrooke and Peel for its close proximity to restaurants, shopping, museums and McGill University. Omni is also close to the train station which may be appealing to you as you are arriving by train.

We like Il Cortile restuarant on Sherbrooke.

I usually visit Montreal in early to mid June, early September and mid-November. September & June are lovely and warm. November is usually cold. Montreal summers can be very hot and humid. So, I would avoid Montreal during July and August unless the heat & humidity do not bother you. Late May, early to mid June and early September would be my prefered time to visit Montreal. Montreal is a university city so September brings thousands of new and returning students (and their parents helping them get settled if new students).

Fodors has an excellent travel guide book on Montreal that may be of help to you as you plan your Montreal trip. Are you also considering going to Quebec City by train from Montreal?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 06:19 AM
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Museums we really like in the old part of the city are the Pointe-a-Calliere museum of Archeology and History and the Chateau Ramezay in the old part of the city. The latter has a nice small garden to explore even if you don't go in

The Biosphere museum on Île Sainte-Hélène, built inside the Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome from Expo is also very interesting, and there are great views from the top on a nice day. (note this is not the Biodome mentioned in another --I don't particularly recommend that)

We like to stay downtown or in the Plateau neighborhood rather than Old Montreal, but really it is hard to go wrong. There are usually good deals for three night hotel stays in the summer

As others have noted there are many good restaurants so knowing your preferences would help.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 06:21 AM
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oh, re time of year--any of the three seasons should be fine. There are lots of special events and festivals during the summer, and it is not usually too hot.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 06:28 AM
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The above posters have pretty well covered it. I will add that each of the three different areas have their own vibe:
Old Montreal - very quaint,scenic,touristy,small. A bit out of the way.
Downtown - Much like any city's downtown, but with a strong French influence. Lots of large stores, office buildings, restaurants.
Plateau - More residential, very French. Lots of small cafes, bistros, funky shops, byob restaurants. Most lodging is in b&b's. The most upscale hotel in the plateau is perhaps the Doubletree.

Any one of these areas would be fine, as they are all within 1/2 hour's walk of each other. One area I would avoid as it's a bit seedy is the eastern end of St. Catherine around St. Laurent and St. Denis. Things rapidly improve as you head up towards Sherbrooke however.

Things not to be missed - Notre Dame basilica, the botanical gardens, the view from the top of Mt. Royal, wandering the sidewalks of Old Montreal & the plateau. Also, Montreal is a city of festivals, there is something going on nearly every weekend in the warm months.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:17 AM
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First, let me respond to OceanBreeze1...no, we had not planned to go on to Quebec City due to our only being in Montreal for a few (3) days...should we consider it?

Thank you to everyone for such outstanding advice!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:23 AM
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Oh...and to Daniel_Williams our food preferences are Italian, French, and local faire (Germany...beer and nuremburg sausages, etc.).

Any "musts"?

Also, we prefer to not have to wear jackets and ties, however, if it is a "can't be missed" restaurant that requires jackets/ties...we can accommodate.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:41 AM
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I would stay the entire 3 days in Montreal and save Quebec City for another trip.

Schwartz's (famous smoked meat) 3895 St-Laurent Blvd

For Montreal style bagels, the St. Viateur or Fairmont bakeries

For poutine (French fries with cheese curds and gravy) someone else will have to recommend a place--I am not a fan.

Le Grand Comptoir is a good inexpensive French bistro 1225 Rue Du Square-Phillips

the markets mentioned by Daniel Williams are definitely worth a visit. Jean Talon could be combined easily with a visit to Little Italy.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 06:32 AM
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With 3 days, stay in Montreal. For some fun, casual restaurants, Duluth street near St Denis is worth exploring. There are 3 Italian restaurants within a few blocks. Spaggios is perhaps the nicest, with a wonderful outdoor patio. On Duluth there is also a very fun Greek brochette place with a great patio, Le Jardan de Panos. Nearby are an Afghan place, several Asian places, and the famous French restaurant Au Pied de Cochon. All are byob except for Pied. Other good French places are Au Petite Extra on Ontario, and L'Express on St. Denis.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 08:40 AM
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Any recommendations for a very nice centrally located hotel in Old Montreal?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 10:05 AM
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ddschur, I agree with vt that your 3 days shd focus on Montreal & save Quebec City for another time.

I cannot recommend Old Montreal hotels as I always stay downtown but I am sure somebody here will be able to help you.

Have you decided when you will be visiting Montreal?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Agree w/ vt and zootsi(just saw Zootsi' s post)
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 01:06 PM
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The Hotel Nelligan and the Saint-Sulpice are 2 Old Montreal boutique hotels that I am familiar with and are very nice. I have also heard positive things about the Auberge du Vieux Port, and the Place D'Armes.

I would consider a visit in mid to late June. The Botanical Gardens will be at their prime, the weather (although somewhat unpredictable in Canada) is usually pleasantly warm but not oppressively hot, tourist facilities and festivals will be running and things will be bustling but the worst of the summer crowds will not have yet arrived.

Very few restaurants require jacket and tie, although I have read that 1 or 2 of the most upscale ones might suggest these - (although most don't). With the vast number of dining choices, I personally wouldn't go the trouble of packing extra clothes.
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Old Jul 13th, 2012, 11:00 AM
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some restaurant recommendations:

joe beef / liverpool house (either, or) - http://www.joebeef.ca/

garde manger (old montreal) - http://crownsalts.com/gardemanger/

le club chasse et peche (old montreal) - http://leclubchasseetpeche.com/

brasserie t - http://www.brasserie-t.com/

l'express - http://restaurantlexpress.ca/

au pied du cochon - http://www.restaurantaupieddecochon.ca/

la distillerie (for drinks) - http://www.pubdistillerie.com/v2/index.php
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Old Jul 13th, 2012, 11:12 AM
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little late... oops (i blame ricky2london) ;-)
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