IN LOVE WITH FALL…IN MONTREAL
Four years ago already
Montréal, it’s already been, what? …Three? …Four years? Remember, last time we saw each other? I was still living in New York back then. A different time, a different life. It was the end of March, beginning of April maybe. You were waking up from a long and cold winter, still no leaves on your trees, just the last remains of snow melting right before the days finally started to get longer. And still, the birds were back already, sooner than usual people said, and I didn’t know what to expect of that first trip in Canada. I wasn’t disappointed at all, I must say. After all, you know it as much as I do that you’re a keeper Montreal, and that’s probably why I’m back again…
A first autumn in Montreal
I wasn’t supposed to come back so soon. But here I am. A different time, a different life for sure. I have heard so much about Canadian’s autumn. Some people say that it’s the prettiest they have ever seen. And now that I have seen it from my own eyes, I must say that it’s probably true. Autumn in Canada is definitely special. So, when I knew that I would be travelling to Montreal in autumn, I couldn’t be any happier. That was the beginning of my journey with InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts.
The beginning of a journey
I met Mélissa from InterContinental Montreal the second day of my trip. Every time I travel to a hotel I am working with, I try as much as I can to take the time to meet the people behind the computer.
They’re always full of beautiful stories to share. The type of things you won’t imagine if you only pass by, you know, you just book a room, for leisure, for business and you don’t really have the time to hear the story behind it. Mélissa and I have been in touch for about a week before I arrive, we exchanged a couple of emails, and I was absolutely sure she was the best person here to give me all I needed to write my paper.
I wasn’t wrong. We had the chance to talk together for about two hours, and we went through the history of the whole building, all the artists that stayed in or even more, became a part of the hotels’ history. It was absolutely fascinating, And I was very surprised to hear that Ravel for instance, played the bolero in the place. When you realize how much history lives in one place, you see it from a completely different perspective.
That first evening in the lounge
I didn’t know much about InterContinental Montreal. What I love every time I check in, it’s to take some time to sit in the lobby and watch people come and go. Who they are. What they do. How they dress. How they talk. So the first night, I grabbed a drink and a few bites, took a seat at the Club InterContinental Lounge, in the lobby and watched. I have seen different types of people, regular clients, businessmen, a few American tourists, a family as well and it seems that this little world was getting along quite well together I must say.
And I think the chemistry was there that night probably thanks to one of the members of the staff present that evening. I sadly can’t remember his name, but he was quite the star of place. He knew people’s names, what were their favourite drinks, what paper they usually read etc. It was as if he was the master of the castle, welcoming us to his house, and providing us with absolutely everything we need. That was the first thing I loved about my stay: It only took me a few seconds to feel at home.
From the 26th floor
I’ve had the chance to stay in quite a few hotels since I have started to work as a travel writer. Each room I’ve slept in has this little something that makes it different from the others. A detail. A colour. Sometimes just a light, it doesn’t need to be fancy, or particularly, sophisticated, but just something to be remarkable.
I knew the second I came in that I was going to spend the most of my stay by that window. From the 26th floor where my room was located, I couldn’t dream for a better place to watch the city waking up. On the first morning, after only five hours of sleep, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back to bed, so I turned on the computer and worked for a couple of hours. It was completely dark when suddenly, I have seen from the window, the first rays of light of the day. Purple, orange, red, burning through the sky. And finally the sun came out, a red sun, like I had never seen before, rising up behind the mountains. It only stayed for a few seconds, but it was worth it. It truly was. At that moment I knew it was going to be a memorable stay.
It’s all about location
I realized that the more I travel, the pickier I become about location. It really did become the most crucial element of any of my stay. If I have to get up early to catch a sunrise or need to have a long day walking through the city to find different spots to shoot, I need, more than anything to be in the best place possible. InterContinental Montreal was probably the best option for me this time because it was perfectly located between the old town, the city center and the Plateau. It only took me 5 minutes’ walk to either go to the old Montreal and about the same for the busiest street of the city: Sainte Catherine street. The Plateau was a bit farer, but nothing to be afraid of, as I never took any public transportations while I was visiting the city. Nothing makes more sense for me than walking to discover the beautiful hidden gems of a city and it’s exactly what I did this time as well.
WHAT TO DO IN MONTREAL?
FOOD // PLACES TO SEE
I’ve already had the chance to see a bit of the city last time I was around. Coming back this time, even for three nights, was more than enough to me to visit the places I didn’t see the first time and, obviously, going back to my favorite spots. As always, I’ve planned a lot, and as always, way too much but I managed to visit some of the coffee shops and restaurants I had bookmarked and here is some of my best founds.
Inspired by Brooklyn’s hyper coffee shops, Café Replika is a concentrated of minimalist atmosphere and vintage decors to really focus on one thing: the taste. The plates may look really simple but are truly amazing. I had one of the best scramble eggs of my life so far here and the drinks very good too. Don’t hesitate to try the Apple and beetroot juice, its addictive!
252 Rue Rachel E, Montréal, QC H2W 1E5, Canada
Literally five minutes walk from the InterContinental Montreal, Tommy has everything you need to spend a comfy and cosy afternoon. Beautiful interior, good food and obviously good coffee too. The place is crowded very easily which always is a good sign!
British Empire Building, 200 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H2Y 1T3, Canada
Osco! is the main restaurant of the InterContinental Montreal. It’s a mix between a French brasserie and a gastro-pub but with a touch of elegance that all together creates a beautiful mix. Focusing on the delicious flavours of south of France and more specifically from the Occitan region, the cuisine of the chef Matthieu Saunier also wants to highlight the local products which I always appreciate. The chef even has his own vegetables and herbs garden on the rooftop of the hotel. I had the chance to try different dishes around fish and everything was really tasty and fresh. I would definitely be back for the salads because they all looked absolutely amazing as well.
360 Saint-Antoine St W, Montreal, QC H2Y 3X4, Canada
Last time I was in Montreal, I wasn’t as obsessed with chasing facades as I am today. And obviously I didn’t really pay attention to the beautiful streets of Montreal during my first visit. But completely covered by golden leaves, the city was absolutely gorgeous and I found the prettiest streets located around Mc Gill university. Here are some of my favorite ones, all located between Mc Gill and Alymer Street up to Milton-Parc:
Pointe à Caillière Museum
I am usually not a big fan of museums. I would rather spend my days outside, walk around a city, stop by a few coffee shops and nice brunch places instead, it’s really how I love discovering a city. But I must say that I was very surprised with Pointe à Caillière museum. It’s quite small, easy to visit in 1,30 hour and very interactive. The tour starts with a short 18 minutes movie about the creation of Montreal and what is really interesting that the museum itself is built on the foundation site of Montreal. There are still remains left and it’s really fascinating to have the opportunity to walk around them.
Ville Marie view point
Every time I travel I always look for the best spots to have a look at the city from above. It’s always amazing to discover a city from a bird eye perspective and this is what I loved about Ville Marie view point. The view is absolutely beautiful and there is also a nice outdoor terrace that also allows people to chill out before moving on to their next visit.
Le Plateau really reminds me of Brooklyn. It has some hipster vibes with a bit of a French accent: Cool coffee shops, nice restaurants, street art…the perfect mix to have a glance at the trendy Montreal.
I just had to finish this list by the Mont Royal which is one of the prettiest parks I have ever seen. A beautiful forest right inside the city and an amazing view over it. Honestly, what else could we ask for? Plus, if, just like me, you like to find beautiful streets when you travel, the way to the Mont Royal is full of them!
What about you guys? Have you been to Montreal? What was your favorite autumn destination so far??