|Montreal city-scape from namesake hill (Mount Royal)
In her murder mystery series, Louise Penny depicts the city of Montreal as a foil to the orderly Quebec City, and to the peaceful village of Three Pines. In these Inspector Gamache books, Montreal is big and scary, full of shady characters and sketchy areas inhabited by drug addicts, poverty, and crime. As a matter of fact, when we arrived in Montreal, it was late in the evening, and we immediately noticed the dirty streets and the crowds of people, some of whom were distinctly separate from the well-dressed, purposeful, fast-moving flows. And yet I can’t wait to return!
|Acrobat near University
of Quebec in Montreal
|Pedestrian Mt Royal street
A final draw was the food. Montreal is home to several world-class restaurants. Because of the pandemic, we did not sit down inside any; but, we did frequent the outdoor options, the produce markets, the delis, cafés and patisseries. Montreal is famous for its bagels, so we tried all competing versions. Unfortunately, the Kouign Amann bakers were on vacation, but we sampled various breads, pastries, and croissants.
|Bike lane going by
Montreal’s Old Town
Interestingly, we practically avoided the old town and its buildings, which are probably one of the main draws for most visitors. Instead, we spent our time exploring the various neighborhoods and their culinary offerings.
|Rue St Denis is lively
all day, but it is
especially alive at night
We took advantage of the proximity of Rue St Denis, joining the lively crowds of outdoor revelers to enjoy veggie sushi and Canadian beer. Nearby parks hosted festivals until late at night.
|Cirque du Soleil on the
|Sunrise from Mt Royal
One day we drove up Mount Royal, for which the city is named, for a spectacular view. Ted hiked up there at sunrise another day to capture colorful photos.
We also went to the Jean Talon market in Little Italy. The market is very accessible with long rows of fruit, flowers, vegetables, and other food.
|Under a spritzer on
Mt Royal Street
We ended up wishing for more time on the Plateau pedestrian streets, especially Mt Royal Street, where we explored the neighborhoods, sat outside and watched passers-by, and sampled the atmospheres of the cafes and wares of the boulangeries-patisseries. Favorites ended up being Joe laCroute, Boulangerie Toledo, and Boulangerie Premiere Moissan.
|Huge new ramp to access store
The question of accessibility depends upon location. As with Quebec City, Montreal is an old city, and the process of retrofitting old construction with lifts and ramps is visible, but gradual.
Many of the neighborhoods that we explored had curb cuts on the sidewalks of main roads, through these were often hacked-down corners of sidewalks.
In general, the sidewalks were worse than those of my home city, Seattle (where sidewalks are not great), but Montreal is full of bikes and bike lanes. Utilizing them made traversing the city much easier. I would just join the throngs and line up with them at stop lights.
As mentioned, several of the streets on the plateau were closed to traffic, allowing me to wheel freely down the street.
Circus Fest in the