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Tuesday 22 October 2013

Bienvenue a Montreal

Welcome to Montreal, and the second part of our trip to Canada. 

While waiting for our visas to be be processed and ready to pick up we decided to head east to Quebec and visit the beautiful cities of Montreal and Quebec City for a few days. We spent the weekend in Montreal and we all fell in love with the place. Such a city of contrasts. North American, yet so European. A vibrant modern city with skyscrapers, heavy traffic and everything that goes along with a big city. Then there's the old town; Vieux Montreal. Cobblestone and paved streets lined with grand public buildings and quaint stone row houses dating from the 17th century onwards. Living in California we often forget just how long ago the East Coast of the USA and Canada was colonised by Europeans. Anything built in the 19th century is old by Californian standards (and similarly by our Australian standards back home) so being in such an old area without having to leave North America is such a treat. We really felt like we had suddenly appeared in a European city. The fact that everything is in French adds to the European feel too :)

Our hotel in Montreal was ideally located close to the old town which was our first stop for a spot of sightseeing. We walked the paved streets (which were super bumpy with a stroller - sorry Lola!) and took in the sights of the old buildings and the port. We had arrived a little later in the day that planned and it was quite a bit colder than we'd hoped so we weren't out for too long. After a few hours of exploring it was starting to get dark (and colder!) so we retreated into a restaurant for dinner then back to the hotel for an early night.

Montreal's old town

The girls always find something to jump off!

Such grandeur

The girls loved these ornate gardens

The flower was their favourite

Such a poser!

Looking over modern Montreal from the old town

Beautiful buildings

After steady rain all Saturday night we awoke to sunny blue skies on Sunday morning and headed down towards the port. We attempted to walk out past the port and onto a peninsula that houses Habitat 67, an interesting apartment block built during the 1967 Expo however it proved a little further and less pedestrian accessible than it appeared on the map! It was also very windy and quite cold down by the water so we gave up after a while and headed back to the more built up (and less windy) old town.

Habitat 67 as seen from the port. Looks like a jumbled mess in the shot but is actually quite an amazing building.

Not sure why the fire hydrants have mini boom gates on them but the girls thought they were hilarious!

So many architectural styles in the one spot

Old Port of Montreal

Four way stop sign 

Outside Montreal's Science Centre

Marche Bonsecours

We treated the girls to a horse and carriage ride through the old town. This was definitely the highlight of their trip so far. They loved the novelty of riding in a carriage while cars buzzed past us. It was a great way to see a little more of the old town without having to walk (little legs tire easily) and with a snuggly wool blanket over our laps it was also a much warmer way to go! After the carriage ride the girls fed our horse, CeCe some carrots and gave her lots of pats. Done with the carrots, CeCe then moved on to trying to eat Ava's hair!

Hello CeCe

Ava chats to CeCe before our ride

Ready to go

Lola and I in the carriage

Feeding carrots to CeCe after the ride

After our ride

I love that the carriages are called Hippomobile!

A quick stop for a lunch of crepes and then we were back to walking the cobbled streets of the old town.

So many cute cafes

Feeling a little Parisien

Lola found some friends to gossip with

Lola found her very own boutique!

The parking signage proved a little confusing at times!

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal 

Art deco styling

Copy of the Pantheon

Could this be the pink poodle Lola has been wishing for? It's not pink, but it could be

Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde 

As expected the day grew colder as it wore on so we made use of our rental car and headed off to see some of the not so old sights in Montreal. First up we headed to the top of Parc Mont Royal for stunning views over the city.

Can Ava see a close up of her eyes?

Ava and I at the lookout

No feeding cute raccoons

Looking over Montreal

Then we decided to head out to the islands of the river for a look at Habitat 67 and a few other sites from the 1967 Expo. Much easier than our attempt to walk there this morning, even with all the detours that we were forced to take due to roadworks. Montreal sure has a lot of roadwork going on at the moment! While driving across the islands (man-made for the 1967 Expo) we also stopped to check out the Biosphere, another remnant of Expo. Now this is the point in the conversation where everyone starts to make Pauly Shore jokes, but let me just point out that that was Biodome (not sphere) and Montreal actually has one of those too! Alas we didn't have time to visit the Biodome (where Pauly Shore is sure to live, right?) but I have heard that it's amazing so we'll have to put it on our "must do" list for next time.

Habitat 67's module based apartments


One last stop and one last Montreal Landmark: Parc Olympique, home to the 1976 Summer Olympics.
The drawcard here for me was the Montreal Tower which stands at a gravity defying 45 degree angle above the stadium. Visitors can ride to the top of the tower in a funicular and take in the views over the city - something which we planned to do not realising that it's closed in the evening. I'm sure the views over the twinkling city at night would be beautiful.

We really enjoyed our time in Montreal and hope to come back again another time, ideally during warmer weather! 


  1. Where did you get your trench? It's cute!

    1. Thanks. It's an Australian label called Alannah Hill.


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