Days Two and Three: Montréal

Wow! That’s all I can say about the last two days. A combined 40,000 steps have led us throughout this beautiful city.

DAY TWO: THURSDAY, AUGUST 17

Ian and I woke up early and made our way over to St-Viateur Bagel & Café to have some delicious wood-fired bagels. We brought our breakfast over to Mont Royal and ate in front of the Sir George Etienne Cartier monument excited to start our hike up the mountain.

Mont-Royal is a beautiful park, 200 hectares of green space and different paths to enjoy and explore. The park was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also
co-designed Central Park and the site for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1890. There were numerous trails to take up to the Belvédère Kondiaronk (the lookout) from intermediate and easy, to the “athletic trail” that Ian and I decided to take. It took about 35 minutes to get to the top, including climbing 339 exhausting steps. Once at the top, it was the view that ultimately took our breath away.

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It wasn’t until making my way to the top when we visited the Mont Royal Chalet that I learned Olmsted created other leisurely trails to encourage visitors to take their time and enjoy the scenery of the park. I also learned that the first European to scale the mountain was Jacques Cartier, an explorer who claimed what is now Canada for France. He also was the first European to describe and map the Saint Lawrence River. Cartier happens to be a family name, so this made me excited to hear! We decided to take a long way back down. It was so peaceful—the park is filled with sculptures, a beautiful pond, green space, and benches to relax and have lunch. It was an amazing experience.

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When we made it to the bottom, it was time for lunch. Ian and I walked over to St-Denis, a popular street filled with shops and places to eat. We stopped at Café Cherrier, a very cute French bistro where we had sandwiches and salads. After our lunch, we walked around the city and poked around at some shops. I felt my energy start to wane, so we stopped at another café called Brûlerie St.Denis where Ian got a delicious seven-layer bar and I drank the biggest café latte I’ve ever seen!

 

DAY THREE: FRIDAY, AUGUST 18

We woke up Friday morning to the sweet sounds of rain hitting the windows and the soft sounds of car tires driving through the wet streets. While this may have dampened our spirits, we thought this might be a good opportunity to walk in the rain through the beautiful cobblestone streets of Old Montréal. Comme c’est romantique! We got dressed and ventured a couple blocks over to find a spot for breakfast. We found this very hip, place called Arts Café. The interior is very cozy and called to me at once. Its walls were filled with books and art, and the food was amazing!

After breakfast, we made our way over to Old Montréal. We parked in a garage and made our way to our first stop: the Notre-Dame Basilica. No words can truly express the beauty and magnificence of this church. Having been to Paris and seeing the Notre-Dame there, I was able to see the similarities and differences between the two. Both, however, were breathtaking. Ian and I paid to see the inside and spent some time taking in the Basilica. I was awestruck and felt at peace.

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After we visited the Notre-Dame, we walked around the streets of Old Montréal. It brought me back to those days in Paris—the cobblestone streets, shops, cafés and bistros, amazing architecture, and of course, crêpes!

We made our way down to the St. Lawrence River and took in the beautiful sights. We walked along the river and made our way to Place Jacques-Cartier, a square filled with even more restaurants and shops. Ian and I visited the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. It is one of the oldest churches in Montreal, built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel. It is the resting place of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, who was the first teacher in the colony of Ville-Marie and the founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame. This was a special site for Ian, for St. Marguerite is the patron of his high school education.

Exploring Old Montréal reminded me so much of Europe; it was wonderful to spend some time away from the busy city and step back in time for a while. Ian commented how we don’t see streets like this back home. Maybe we haven’t explored enough of the United States, but there is a stunning beauty to the elaborate facades of each storefront. The old city lived up to its expectations and for any visitor to the area, it is an absolute must-see.

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