The end of another day in Montreal is upon us! Funny how much more quickly time flies when you’re on vacation, eh? We had another good day, both in terms of what we saw and the weather. As I’ve said, since this is my first time here, I don’t know what the trend normally is, but if the this experience is indicative of this time of year, then Labor Day weekend is definitely a great time to visit Montreal! Today’s itinerary was broken up into two parts, with the first one involving food (no surprise there, then) and the second involving a walk up a big hill (gotta work that food off somehow!).
Thanks to a combination of another recommendation from my friend Ed and Scott’s research, we made our way to St-Viateur Bagel after winding our way through the Mile End neighborhood. You get exactly what you’d expect to get there – bagels! It’s a really small place (not even a place to sit down), but it’s a well-known spot for bagel connoisseurs and it didn’t disappoint. Scott got an all-dressed bagel (ie – an “everything” bagel) while I got a rosemary one (not too strong of a rosemary flavor, but still very good) and both were tasty and nice and chewy (not dried up and crunchy – ick). Oddly, the only way to get cream cheese was to buy a tub of it from the coolers in the shop (they had a big variety, but it was just odd to not have the option to just have them put it on the bagel or even to get a small to-go size), but c’est la vie! There are no frills at St-Viateur (they don’t even cut the bagel for you), but you can expect to get tasty, cheap bagels (about $0.75 USD each) and you can expect to pay in cash (that’s all they accept). Worth a stop for all you carb-lovers!
After noshing on bagels, we made our way to the Marché Jean-Talon, which is very much like a big farmer’s market with tons of great (and fresh!) food – everything from fruits to vegetables to flowers to maple syrup and more! We weren’t looking to buy anything in particular, but just as we arrived, we saw Chocolats Privilège, so we stopped in and bought a few tasty treats for later. And based on what we’ve eaten since we bought it, their chocolate is worth a taste! As for the rest of the market, it was fun to walk through, though since we visited on a Saturday, it was FULL of people. But the bright produce all looked great and lots of vendors had samples out, so we snagged tastes of plums, peaches, grapefruit, and tomatoes. We even found a stall selling organic cheese curds (the squeaky kind!), so of course we bought a small bag (and they were super good – totally worth $5).
After the market, we decided to head home and relax for a couple of hours (we’re on vacation, after all). We did take a different route home, so we could see more of the Esplanade, which was quite nice and felt kind of like Chelsea in NYC. And the weather made it all the better! Here’s the first half of our day in photos:
Random church spotted on the way to St-Viateur.
Colorful street art spotted under a bridge.
Heading into the market (just before our chocolate purchases, of course).
After a couple of hours of relaxing at our apartment, we went back out to finish our day with a walk to Mount Royal, which is what Montreal gets its name from. Both our research and recommendations made it clear that you get the best views of the city from the top of the hill, so it was a must-visit for us! Fortunately, it’s very near our apartment, so we only needed to walk about 30 minutes to reach it (less than that to reach the base of the hill). The walk up to the top is generally pretty easy, especially if you take the more leisurely route that meanders up to the top. We did that for most of the way, but also took two different sets of stairs, one that was ~100 stairs and another which was just under 300. So, a lot of stairs! The first set didn’t feel too bad, but there was definite huffing and puffing happening by the top of the second set. Everyone was right about it though – the views are pretty amazing! There’s a chalet at the top as well, which was built in the 1930s and is used as an event venue, but we didn’t go inside it as we were too focused on getting to the lookout. Great views abounded (though the shade unfortunately abandoned us at the top, so it felt much warmer) and I’m really glad we made the walk up (great for getting those Fitbit steps, too!). And the price of $0 (since it’s a city park) makes it a no-brainer. And if you’re worried about the walk at all, it isn’t that bad, especially if you just stay on the well-marked path all the way up. And the walk down is great – it was totally shaded and the incline is pretty gentle.
Second-half pictures begin…now!
I took this to show the steepness of the hill (off the beaten path, that is).
The chalet at the top of the hill.
This view definitely warranted a panorama!
This is the second (and taller) of the two staircases we climbed.
I had to take this picture! There were actually four guys going down a very steep part of the hill, presumably to save time vs. taking the path. I don’t recommend following their example!
And with that, we made our way back home and had leftovers from the tasty Italian food we had delivered from Kesté yesterday. So, kind of a like a night at home, really. We’re going to (hopefully) have an early night tonight so we can get up early tomorrow as we’re taking an all-day trip to Quebec City and Montmorency Falls. We debated whether or not we should book it, but we figured we were on track to see everything we wanted to in Montreal, plus it’s great to get the chance to see more of Canada while we’re here. Look for that post tomorrow!