Montreal is one of those Canadian hotspots that everyone loves to visit and I’m sure many have hopped over for a quick shopping extravaganza (something about those Euro fashions always entice me), a bachelor/bachelorette party or for some good old R&R. I have to confess that when I visit Montreal it’s mainly for foodie pleasures and we rarely get out to do the usual touristy things. This time was no different.
We took the Little Monkey to Montreal (her 10th city..who’s counting now?) for a rather short 5 day visit. In terms of transportation our journey started off on the right foot with a rather pleasant (as pleasant as 5 a.m can be that is!) UBER ride to the Porter airport. If you haven’t heard of UBER you are missing out! This car service is a lovely mix of convenience (order and pay through your phone -there’s an app for that) with efficient, courteous service. Click here to sign up and you’ll get $20 off your ride. They not only operate in Toronto but in quite a few North American cities as well. As for Porter Airlines, it’s no surprise, this city girl loves a ten minute commute to the airport, a ferry ride to really get you in a relaxing mood, a latte while you wait to board and the food and Steam Whistle that awaits onboard. No I’m not paid to gush about these guys, I just love doing it all on my own!
The first few days were spent with friends at their lovely home in Pointe Clair. It was quite a different vibe to the downtown Montreal visits we were used to. In keeping with our new lifestyle as parents, three days were spent in suburbia with friendly neighbours, ice cream shops down the street and kids cycling around the boardwalk. Kinda nice getting away from the city tempo for a few days.
City life beckoned and off the hubs, Little Monkey and I went to enjoy what downtown Montreal had to offer. Staying at the convenient Delta hotel on President Kennedy Avenue meant that we were able to adhere to the Little Monkey’s nap times (yup! We still have two atleast 1 hour naps. Jealous?) and explore the foodie joints. I also shopped at Simons. Always find something there!
Here’s our recommendations for a quick visit to the Montreal area with a baby
If you are able to get away from the city there’s many farms and cider houses that can be explored. Nothing better than apple picking on a sunny fall day and sampling some ice cider from Michel Jodoin. We sampled a few and the Rosé sparkling cider made from Geneva apples was my favourite and I thought it would be the perfect hostess gift. Who wants to invite me for dinner?
We were lucky to get a private tour of the Gingras facilities despite it not being production season. We walked around the lush orchards, saw the fresh apples growing and peeked in on some ageing cider vinegar. The Extra Old Apple Cider Vinegar we sampled was smooth, tart and sweet at the same time. Matured in French oak for up to 12 years, Gingras delivers quality vinegar. Check out their website for ideas on how to incorporate this healthy vinegar into cocktails and dishes.
Quebec is known for their artisanal food and Atwater Market was the perfect afternoon pit stop for us. I recommend a baby carrier vs. a stroller for a market visit due to the space restrictions and stairs at each end. First off we had a quick lunch, I love love love the smoked meat sandwich with spicy mustard from Roule ma Poulet. Atwater is a foodie’s delight with everything from fresh baked bread to a spread of Pâté, and let’s not forget the Point G macarons! My favourite was the poppy flower one. My lovely hosts and I decided to cook dinner using products purchased at Atwater market and we were each responsible for a course. I had appetizers on my list so we had a baguette, four kinds of Pâté, chorizo and fresh buffalo mozzarrela. For mains we had a succulent lobster salad and finished off the meal with some champagne and macarons. Not bad for a hard day’s work eh?
Schwartzs is a must visit no matter where you come from. Expect long line ups during busy periods but there is also a pick up/take away section which might move faster than the restaurant. The hubs is a huge fan of their smoked meat sandwich and often gets vac packed meat to bring back home with us. I however, still prefer the Roule ma Poulet one. The secret is in the sauce.
Those with a sweet tooth (me!!! did I tell you I gained 14 pounds over August!Shhh…) have to stop by Juliette & Chocolat. I had the chocolate milkshake and a hazzlenut chocolate bomb. I downed the milkshake, not too thick not too watery. Perfect for a hot summers day. The bomb… Ummmmmmmmmmm delicious.Pure gold in your mouth, all nice, gooey and melt-ey when it’s warmed up. I want more!
Beer lovers make a visit to Dieu du Ciel. Thank me later. This microbrew pub is dark and tiny (great patio out front though!) but we managed to fit our stroller in there. Remember you’re not going for the food, you are going there for the brews. I loved that they had sample sizes which was a great way to test the brews on offer. Each day the beer list changes slightly and it isn’t rare for them to run out of something early into the night. Sadly we got kicked out at 9 p.m because of the Little Monkey. Apparently babies aren’t allowed past 8. We will be back! I loved the chocolate and vanilla stout Aphrodisiaque.
I know I did not cover any of the many kid friendly attractions, such as the La Ronde amusement park, McCord Museum or the Redpath Museum. I’m saving those for when the Little Monkey is just a bit older. In the mean time be sure to check out the Tourism Montreal website and look for family friendly agendas!