Vendredi (Friday) in Montreal (aka Day 1)

You already heard about our apartment in Montreal, so now it’s time to hear about what we’ve been up to so far! We actually didn’t do a whole lot of research on this city before getting here, but I can always count on Scott to dig in to start planning things once we arrive. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to see, but he’s the one who actually organized those ideas (and others) into a plan of attack. He can always pull a plan together! We also got some great suggestions from some folks on Facebook (thanks all, especially you, Ed!), so that helped us as well. Let that be a reminder for everyone – check with your friends and social media connections when visiting a new city!

As is pretty standard for us, we got around only on foot today, but Montreal does have a good metro system, so check it out when you visit! Because our apartment is in such a great location, we were able to get everywhere without needing to use it and the weather was so nice (sunny and low 70s F, with a bit of a breeze) that it was great to be outside. To start, we made our way to lunch (hey, no one said we had to get an early start!) at Coco Rico, a recommendation from my friend Ed. It’s a Portuguese rotisserie with a small menu of mostly chicken dishes, but the food is good! Chicken on a bun is the best way to describe their fare and that’s exactly what we got – pulled chicken on a really tasty bun! We were originally thinking of getting one plate and splitting it and then getting something small elsewhere (so we could try a bigger variety of places), but we ended up getting our own plates. We got a little combo, which didn’t sound like a lot of food, but it was plenty – we could have easily split one meal! Here’s what mine looked like:

In addition to the chicken in a bun, we also got potatoes with a kind of BBQ seasoning and a small cup of salad.

For two meals with beverages, we paid about $18 USD, so it’s a pretty inexpensive meal. Note that they only accept cash or true debit cards (ie – not debit cards with a Visa/MasterCard logo), so come prepared. Unfortunately, we didn’t, but I found an ATM a block away, so the problem was quickly remedied. Again, it’s not a fancy place (it doesn’t even have tables – just stools against the wall!), but it’s pretty well-known and is worth a visit!

After lunch, we continued strolling down Boulevard Saint-Laurent (we basically got on that street around the corner from our apartment and stayed on it until we walked back), taking in the nice weather and some interesting buildings along the way, until we reached Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. Although it’s called a chapel, it’s still a pretty impressive church! It dates back to 1771 and was built on the ruins of an even older chapel through the work of Marguerite Bourgeoys, who created one of the first non-cloistered Catholic religious communities and has since been declared a saint by the church. It’s a beautiful building, both outside and in, and has an attached museum about the history of the chapel and Marguerite’s life. Although the chapel is free, the museum costs ~$10 USD for adults, which includes a really good audio-guide. I don’t know if it’s because we visited on a weekday, but the museum was pretty empty, which made for a pleasant experience. Also included as part of the museum ticket is a trip up the steeple, which isn’t high (69 steps to get to the almost-top and another 23 to get to the very top), but does provide some nice views of Old Montreal. Museums aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this one is nice, not crowded, not expensive, and doesn’t take too long to get through, so I’d recommend a visit. At least be sure to visit the chapel!

After the chapel, we did some more strolling, including a drive-by of City Hall and Château Ramezay, though we didn’t go inside either one. Our next (and, as it turned out, final) destination was Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. Although not as big and grand as its Parisian cousin, Montreal’s Notre-Dame is still a pretty amazing building! There is an entrance fee to this church (~$4 USD), but it’s a no-brainer to pay it a visit. As I’ve said before, visiting churches is great because the architecture and history are always amazing and they often represent the former (and sometimes current) center-point of the area. The original church goes back to the 1670s, but the current building was designed and built in the early 1800s (though the interior work went on for several more decades). You’re free to walk around the church on your own, but tours are offered at regular intervals in both English and French as well. A definite must-visit in Montreal!

On to the pictures!

Outside Coco Rico.

Street art by Jason Botkin.

A colorful building seen on our walk down Saint-Laurent.

The Court of Appeal of Quebec.

Montreal City Hall.

Outside the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel.

Had to snap this picture to show the St. Paul love!

Looking towards the chapel’s main altar.

This ship is one of a few hanging over the main aisle of the chapel. It’s also known as the Sailor’s Church!

A closer shot of the altar.

I love a pipe organ!

There are ~60 collections of miniatures about the life of Marguerite in the museum at the chapel, all held in cabinets like little dioramas, and this is one of them.

The passageway we walked through upon entering the museum.

Looking out over the Old Port.

One of the angel statues at the top of the chapel.

Looking over Old Montreal from the top of the chapel.

Passing by Château Ramezay.

Approaching Notre-Dame from behind.

Prettty amazing building and it definitely has a feel of Notre Dame in Paris.

I told you it was cool inside!

I love to take pictures of lecterns in churches.

And pipe organs, too!

A closer shot of the main altar.

That was a few more pictures than it felt like when I uploaded them, but I hope you enjoy them! Speaking of pictures, I have to give a shout-out to Photo Editor by Aviary – I just started using it today and I love it! For the last few years, I’ve edited photos through Google Photos (previously Google+), but Google stripped out all but the most basic editing functionality last year and I’ve just made due with it ever since. I decided to give something else a try and Photo Editor seems to be great! The only annoying thing is that I need to download the photos from my phone to my iPad (through Google Photos, ironically), edit them on the iPad (easier to edit on a bigger screen), and then re-upload them to Google Photos. I thought that would be a big pain, but it wasn’t too bad, so I’ll keep doing it for the duration of this trip to make sure it will work long-term. I’m open to suggestions on other apps though, so if you have any, leave a comment below.

And so, Chapter 1 in Montreal comes to a close. Roll on Chapter 2!

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!