A Perfect Day In Montreal- An Almost 24 hour Itinerary

old montreal

This February, as most people were hunkering down, and bracing for the polar vortex that dumped snow along the East coast, sending temperatures plummeting below zero, we decided it was the perfect time for a trip to Montreal.

Polar Vortex

As we made our way by car through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Albany, Rochester, Ontario and finally Montreal, we watched the thermostat dip and bob.

15 degrees...

5 degrees...

0 degrees...

-2 degrees...

-13 degrees....

It was a sunny, and I mean, deceptively brilliant, afternoon at -13 degrees when we pulled into the underground parking garage at the Gouverneur Hotel at the Place Dupuis in the heart of downtown Montreal.

image.jpg

Unsure of how it would all work out, traveling with a four year old and a one and a half year old in the middle of a snowstorm on the Eastern coast of Canada, we simply took a deep breath and forged forth.

Yes, it would be cold.

Yes, we would have to layer and wear boots.

Yes, this trip would require several hot chocolate breaks.

Yes, there was snow, and ice everywhere.

Yes, we probably should have gone to the Caribbean, but we didn't and in the end, I'm glad we didn't.

If you should happen to find yourself in Montreal in winter, fear not. The city is well equipped to handle whatever amount of snow or ice mother nature should decide to throw its way.

With easy to navigate streets and authentically delicious French style hot chocolate and espresso drinks on every corner, get out and forge forth anyway. The city will reward you!

We had a perfect day out and about in Montreal. Here's our almost 24 hour itinerary:

Breakfast at Juliette & Chocolat on Rue Saint Catherine

Juliette & Chocolat is a local favorite featuring.....you guessed it, chocolate. To be specific, you'll find traditional French pastries, sandwiches and salads with a chocolaty twist. Intimate, modern and relaxed, Juliette & Chocolat is one of those cafes that is both child friendly (as long as your little one isn't prone to running and screaming), first-date romantic, Sunday brunch chic and a haven for location independent laptop clad hipsters.

Stroll down Rue Saint Catherine

A main thoroughfare, Rue Saint Catherine is hip and eclectic. Frequented by university students, this young, bohemian strip is home to every type of restaurant imaginable, quirky shops and lively bars. *Warning- just because it is snowy and icy, don't expect that streets will be fully plowed and salted as in the United States. We had an adventure making our way up and down the busy Rue Saint Catherine.

Explore the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec

Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec

This library is so much more than a library. A massive and super modern architectural gem, the Bibliotheque Nationales du Quebec is a literary and musical multiplex. The children's section is massive. The boys enjoyed the listening and viewing station where they were able to watch short animated films in French. It was a great way to expose them to the language. They also enjoyed the magnetic poetry wall and reading picture books in French. If you're a lover of music, the library has an extensive listening section.

Visit the Notre-Dame Basilica

In addition to being an active church with a large and tight knit community of worshipers, Montreal's Notre Dame basilica is a local historic gem and source of pride. The site of many important events including Celine Dion's wedding, the historic basilica is open to visitors who wish to take a moment of quiet repose, admire the collection of religious art and take in the astounding architecture. Visitors are also welcome to attend mass.

In addition to being an active church with a large and tight knit community of worshipers, Montreal's Notre Dame basilica is a local historic gem and source of pride.

The site of many important events including Celine Dion's wedding, the historic basilica is open to visitors who wish to take a moment of quiet repose, admire the collection of religious art and take in the astounding architecture. Visitors are also welcome to attend mass.

We met up with my friend Lynne for lunch and she suggested Olive et Gourmando. I'm so glad she did! The cozy eclectic and artsy interior was charming. The delicious food disarming! And the smell of baking bread, chocolate and wine- it was out of this world. The Kale Cesar made me so happy. The wine list was extensive (most bottles hailed from France). Also extensive was the list of local apple ciders. The fresh French pastries are worth a mention, so many types of croissants and cookies take up space in the shiny glass display case. It was so cozy inside, I almost forgot about the sub zero temperatures outside... almost.

We met up with my friend Lynne for lunch and she suggested Olive et Gourmando. I'm so glad she did!

The cozy eclectic and artsy interior was charming. The delicious food disarming! And the smell of baking bread, chocolate and wine- it was out of this world.

The Kale Cesar made me so happy.

The wine list was extensive (most bottles hailed from France). Also extensive was the list of local apple ciders.

The fresh French pastries are worth a mention, so many types of croissants and cookies take up space in the shiny glass display case.

It was so cozy inside, I almost forgot about the sub zero temperatures outside... almost.

image.jpg

Spa Break at Bota, Bota, Spa-Sur-L'eau

Located quite literally on a boat at the old pier, the Bota Spa is a relaxing and warm oasis of rejuvenation in the heart of Old Montreal. One step onto the boat spa and you're transported to another world! A warm, eucalyptus scented world where dreams of Zen easily come true. You can spend a few hours or the entire day on this docked spa boat which boasts a wonderful restaurant, massage services, hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas and other forms of relaxing entertainment.

Located quite literally on a boat at the old pier, the Bota Spa is a relaxing and warm oasis of rejuvenation in the heart of Old Montreal. One step onto the boat spa and you're transported to another world! A warm, eucalyptus scented world where dreams of Zen easily come true. You can spend a few hours or the entire day on this docked spa boat which boasts a wonderful restaurant, massage services, hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas and other forms of relaxing entertainment.

Hot Chocolate Break at Cacao 70 Atwater

Rumored to have the thickest most delectable hot chocolate in town, Cacao 70 Atwater is the perfect way to recharge in the middle of or end a busy day in Montreal.

At let's face it, you deserve some delicious fuel after all of that walking!

 

Regardless of the season you visit Montreal is an amazing city!

This was probably my 8th or 9th visit. For whatever reason, I have only experienced Montreal in the winter. The city is spectacular blanketed in snow, but I look forward to a summer visit as well sometime soon so I can take in the long, lazy, sidewalk cafe studded summer evenings.

A new take on an old favorite!

Have you had the pleasure of a visit to Montreal? Would you consider vacationing there?