Revered as one of the most romantic in the world, Montreal is also the largest bilingual city in North America and the world’s second largest French-speaking city after Paris. A delicious mélange of European flair and Canadian charm, the four-hundred year old metropolis has a spirited heart and soul that is palatable on the tree-lined boulevards, in the hip nightclubs that dot the trendy neighborhoods and in the gourmet bistros presided over by world-class Chefs.
From the wildly popular Cirque du Soleil, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and the Montreal Canadiens hockey team to majestic Mont Royal, referred to simply as “the mountain” by locals, Montreal is also a perennially popular city in which to tie the knot, celebrate an anniversary or treat your sweetie to a weekend getaway that is not too far from home.
Montrealers take their food seriously and at Le Pois Penché, brunch is the quintessential French Brasserie affair. Reminiscent of Paris in the forties, the bistro is adored for its menu that tempts with classic fare like a duck confit grilled cheese sandwich or perfectly prepared eggs benedict with smoked salmon and frites that are dipped in truffle oil. Next door and connected by an inside walkway, Chez Swann is a groovy boutique hotel with funky Quebec-crafted furniture, sexy showers designed for couples and all-inclusive meal options at Le Pois Penche.
With a reputation for brewing the best espresso this side of Milan, Club Social is one of five thousand cafes, or coffee shops, in the city. Once a private club, cappuccino connoisseurs were invited in fifteen years ago and today, Club Social is lorded over by a lively gaggle of Italian brothers who grew up learning how to brew the perfect cappuccino. “I’m part barista and part psychiatrist,” quips Jay Lucifero as he expertly pours an espresso for one of his regulars, “our customers come for a great cup of coffee and that is exactly what we give them.”
The pinnacle of elegance, Ritz-Carlton was built for three million dollars in 1912 and today, following a four-year $200 million facelift, the Grand Dame is back in business with revamped rooms and an indoor saltwater pool. An icon in the heart of the city, the ritzy Ritz has a storied past with a guestbook that includes the Queen Mother, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who celebrated their first marriage in a sumptuous suite. “Along with the hotel’s reopening, Montreal will also be welcoming two global icons of sophistication,” said Andrew Torriani, president, “the acclaimed Maison Boulud restaurant and the legendary Tiffany jewellery boutique.”
With the largest Chinese Garden outside Asia, Montreal Botanical Gardens and Insectarium boasts an unhurried ambience with a Japanese Garden and tearoom, classic French garden and fun-filled ‘insect tastings’ in November and December.
The largest shrine dedicated to Saint Joseph in the world, the Oratory of Mount-Royal is a spectacular chapel with more than ten thousand lights and candles, hundreds of crèches from around the world and the grandiose Basilica with an organ that is ranked amongst the ten most prestigious on the planet. Sunday afternoon concerts are delightfully relaxing and very popular with honeymooners.
Once the French pavilion at Expo ‘67 and open twenty-four hours every day of the week, Casino de Montréal tempts with one hundred gaming tables and three thousand slot machines. For a bite after a blackjack game, three eateries dish up an eclectic menu from Italian and French to classic Canadian.
An entertainment landmark, House of Jazz has welcomed the greatest names for more than four decades. With a restaurant serving Louisiana-style fare, this jazzy Montréal club pulsates nightly to the rhythm of up-and-coming artists and seasoned performers.
On the roof top of Montreal’s tallest building, Altitude Club 737 is a hip and happening dance club where vistas of the city are mesmerizing. For VIP’s and VIP wannabees, two huge terraces on two floors stay open year round. Note to trend-setters: Arrive before 10 pm to avoid lineups.
Save the Date
- October 11 – November 11: For fashionistas, “De La Belle Epoque au Pret-a-Porter” salutes women’s fashion at the Grande Bibliotheque.
- November 1 – 11: Montreal Restaurant Week dishes up delectable menus at fixed prices in a variety of restaurants throughout the city.
- January 17 – February 2, 2013: Igloofest honors winter with concerts in the Old Port.
- February 21 -March 3, 2013: ‘Montreal en Lumiere’ is one of the largest winter festivals in the world with wine tastings and theatre performances.
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