Boston-Montreal by car, friends, poutine, cocktails, touristic bus… Short story long, that’s how we spent 3 days in Montreal, last weekend.
There are places I dream to go, but Montreal wasn’t part of my short list. I don’t really know why, there’s no reason, maybe it was just to far away from France. Laws to decide where to spent the weekend are hard to understand, but for this particular weekend, there was a kind of events conjunction which had lead us to leave for Montreal (1) a friend from Paris was spending vacation there (2) there was a 3 days weekend thanks to Memorial Day (3) friends wanted to leave with us for a vacation. But as in every group with more than 2 people, there was a lot of lethargy, and no real action (should we stay or should we go?). We decide only the day before to book an hotel for the 4 of us.
Friday night. Before leaving Boston, we go to the Asian food court of Super 88 (explain me why I ate spicy before a 5 hours trip, I don’t get it). We go in a huge SUV, ready for a long road trip. The seat is so comfy that I lost all my prejudices against big cars. We cross the border after midnight. I’m stressed out: is my visa ok? is my passport still on my bag?I’m afraid of staying in a parking lot all weekend long. After crossing the border without any trouble, I start to freak out for Monday, if I’m gonna be able to come back to the USA.
We arrive at the hotel at about 2am. Our room is in front of a naked dancers cabaret.
Saturday. Hat and shades, we have now the tourist look. We leave the hotel to meet my friend for a brunch in the charming avenue Duluth. Colored houses, lively street, bars and restaurants where it’s written that you could bring your own bottle of wine: I like this place at the first sight. I meet my friend Hélène, it’s so strange to see her after more than 5 months of separation, especially there in Montreal. We chit-chat.
We begin to visit the city, without forgetting to have snacks once in a while. We do the ‘worst’ touristic thing, a Duck Tour on an amphibious bus. We start to ride on the street and then the bus go right in a canal. It’s great, but it’s so comfy I almost fall asleep.
At 8pm, people go out on the street, or some just stay in front of their door or on their balcony, and start hitting pans – or casseroles. All this noise is meant to help the students movement. I love protest, I always find that extraordinary that people get together to fight for their rights.
Une seule solution, la manifestation ! (Only one solution, protest!)
Sunday morning. We keep going with our very elaborated schedule: eat and walk. At the fantastic ‘Mamie Clafoutis’, we rediscover the pleasure of a good bread, after being deprived for a few months.
We try to have an overview of the city, even if we only have 3 days. We cross-rule the most touristic areas: Vieux Montréal, Mont Royal, Sainte-Hélène island, and others neighborhoods more ‘private’. We even take some time to do shopping (as Quebecois say: magasiner).
Manu has a new vintage jacket
The ambiance is very relaxed and pleasant, I feel good. It a charming city even if there’s no particular architecture. I have the feeling that there’s a lot of exhibitions, festivals, parties, all year round. I love this lively and inspiring atmosphere.
There’s a strange mixed of USA (big buildings downtown, and tiny details such as the shape of the guy on the traffic light, tips to waiters, the sound of the firetruck) and France, because people speak French, I mean a strange and funny one, but still. I try to practice my accent, but it’s between Belgium and Swiss (I have some short success though). To keep going with generalities, it’s true that people are really nice and cool too.
Plays on words
The true star of our weekend was of course the famous poutine (we’ve tried it in Portland, Maine, but it’s more a specialty of Montréal). When you read on the menu what it is, it’s absolutely disgusting: French fries with melted cheese, and gravy. But so to say, it’s disgustingly good. I guess you get rid of it very quickly, but for a weekend, it was the perfect food. There’s a lot of variants (we tried at La Banquise), with bacon, or vegetables or even guacamole. Poutine is for everybody, if you like fries.
Monday. We come back to Mamie Clafoutis, it’s so good and it’s our last chance to eat a good croissant.
Then, we go in the ‘Quartier latin’. I’ve kept my flat sandals for the whole weekend, and now my calves are on fire (and I’ve the displeasure to announce the death of my beloved golden sandals from Brigitte). Everybody is a little bit tired, we eat another food specialty of the city, pâté chinois (some sort of hachis parmentier, meat and mashed potatoes). And we leave Montreal. We haven’t seen the landscape Friday night. So on the way back, we have the chance to admire Vermont: hills, woods, lakes. So nice.
Tons of fun in Vermont
We stop in Montpelier, Vermont capital (there’s a Montpellier too in France, with 2 ‘L’ my sister lives there; when I told her I’ve been to Montpelier, she told me I could have call her). The city is tiny, no more than 8 000 inhabitants (smallest capital in all the USA). And now we just want one thing: going back to Vermont!
Here the addresses we went to (thanks to the wonderful blog of Christelle she gave me most of the ideas) in Montreal for…
- A huge sandwich on a gorgeous terrasse, at café Santropol
- Perfect marinière mussels, in a Portuguese restaurant Na Brasa
- A French breakfast and an incredible olives fougasse at Mamie Clafoutis
- A poutine at 1am at PoutineCity and a perfect combo beer and poutine at La Banquise
- Excellent cocktails at Le Lab