bonjour montréal!

May 17, 2013 at 11:03 am 2 comments

As summer 2013 approaches, I finally had some time to organize my photos from the summer 2012 road trip. In summer 2012, Jules, Christina, and I road tripped Québec’s Gaspé peninsula. Jules turned 30 last summer, so she picked the trip. This year, Christina’s 30th will bring us to California. Next year is my turn. Destination still undecided.

We started the great Gaspé road trip in a city that is close to our hearts, Montréal. We have all spent quite a bit of time here over the years, and it’s always great to be back.

Customary dashboard photo!

The drive from Toronto always feels longer than we expect it to (except for the times we drove overnight), and it was even worse when some random traffic on the highway forced us onto back roads for a while. Christina had found a Groupon for a random hotel on Île Charron, so we had to get all the way through the city before we reached our hotel, too. So on the first night in the city, we really only had time for dinner and a bit of walking. Jules and I finally had our first trip to Aux Vivres, Montréal’s well-known vegetarian restaurant. None of us are vegetarians, but we all lean that way. After dinner, we wandered up and down Boulevard St-Laurent, stopped for ice cream in a store where a guy wanted to talk American politics with me upon finding out that I was from Chicago, home of President Obama, and then got a good night sleep in advance of our one full day in Montréal.

Our one full day in Montréal ended up being Canada Day. Québec isn’t really where you go to celebrate Canada Day, but if you’re going to be anywhere in Québec, I’m guessing that Montréal has the best Canada Day celebrations. We decided to spend most of the day in the Vieux Port (Old Port), which had plenty of outdoor festivities, culminating with fireworks. But first, we had something important to do.

We’re a little obsessed with macarons. We’re also very picky about them. We have a place in Toronto that makes delicious, authentic French macarons (La Bamboche), but we were curious to see if Canada’s French province had even better macarons. So after a bit of googling, we found two macaron places that are well-known in Montréal, and they happened to be around the corner from each other. And so began The Battle of Macarons 2012.

Our first stop was Point G, on Ave du Mont Royal. Point G is a macaron boutique, with flashy macaron-tastic designs on the façade, and a long counter where you can view the flavours while waiting in line. We waited 10-15 minutes on a warm summer holiday, so it wasn’t too bad. We picked out six flavours, then took the box and headed around the corner. Their box was stylized, with more flashy macaron drawings.

The Girls outside of Point G, flashy macarons in the background

Stop #2 was La Maison du Macaron, just off of Mont Royal on Rue de la Roche. La Maison du Macaron is a dessert café, as well as a macaron boutique. I don’t think they had quite as many flavours, but they still had a nice selection. It wasn’t crowded at all. We picked out six flavours. The box from LMdM was more of a traditional macaron box in red and white.

We certainly didn’t want to host our battle of macarons in either of the shops, but we apparently had no qualms with bringing our battle into the nearby Starbucks. When we have “macaron table” (yes, we do this on a regular basis), we alternate who starts tasting each cookie, with each person biting off about a third of the cookie, then discuss the merits and/or pitfalls of each flavour. This was a little more intense, as I took notes, to ensure that we came to the right decision.

From Point G: fleur de croquelet (watermelon flavour), lychee-raspberry, salted caramel, chocolate hazelnut, balsamic, crème brulée

I liked the fleur de croquelet and chocolate hazelnut best. The balsamic was fruitier than we expected it to be. Point G had some savory flavours, so we wanted to try one of those and settled on balsamic.

From La Maison du Macaron: mojito, chocolate banana, strawberry rhubarb, café, pistachio, lemon.

We especially LOVED the fruit flavours from La Maison du Macaron. I immediately became obsessed with the mojito flavour. Lemon was also a big hit—it was sweet, but not fake, bringing up memories of a perfect lemon meringue pie.

After the taste test was concluded, the results were unanimous. We liked Point G quite a bit, but La Maison du Macaron was the clear winner.

The winning box of macarons, before we devoured them.

After coffee and macarons, we were ready to hit the Vieux Port, where they had imported extra Canadian flags, as well as happy fresh-faced Canadian girls, passing out paper flags.

Vieux Port

Since we’d basically already had cookies for lunch, I just kept up with the sweets and had a nutella-banana beavertail for lunch part 2. I had to…it’s Canada’s most patriotic food, or something.

We were anxious for an updated anchor photo. We’ve posed on this anchor most years since my first trip to Montréal, in 2003. Success!

Old Montréal is great because of the architecture and old world charm. This is the Hotel de Ville, I think.

One of my favourite buildings in the world is Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonsecours in Old Montréal, the oldest church in the city. I love the aged roof, the red door, and how the light hits in the building in early evening.

I probably have close to a hundred photos of this church that I’ve taken over the years, but I still find new angles.

I also enjoy Marché Bonsecours, which is next to the church. It has restaurants and shops in it…in general, they’re not really geared toward my demographic, but I love the building (and its clean public washrooms).

Funny story about the above shot—we spied this angle from a couple streets up, and the girls hoisted me onto a ledge with about a two-story drop on the opposite side, so I could get this photo. Every photographer needs a couple of friends who will help her climb onto something she shouldn’t be climbing on, and then hold her legs so she doesn’t kill herself or drop the camera. Not pictured below: Christina holding onto my feet, Jules and her mad photog skillz.

After walking all afternoon, we did manage to burn off our lunchtime sugar rush and went in search of somewhere to eat, via the shops on and near Rue St-Paul. We eventually decided to try Bevo, which is off of Rue St-Paul, but a couple of blocks from the square. For some reason, I’ve never had great luck with restaurants in Old Montréal, although I always hear that there are plenty of good ones. I thought Bevo was decent, but not outstanding, and a bit overpriced, which goes along with the location.

We had to wait a while for a table, so by the time we finished, it was getting dark, and I wanted to head back to the car to pick up my tripod. My mom had just bought it for me for my birthday, and I was excited for my first experiment with nighttime photography on a tripod. We had parked on one of the old piers that’s been repurposed as a parking garage, which offered a terrific view of the city, so I set up my tripod and got to work.

Awesome results!

I even set up a timer shot so we could all jump in.

Down in the park, I got a nice shot of the fountains.

The park had live music and people were starting to pour in for the fireworks show, so we walked a little, but then grabbed a spot along a wall where we hoped we’d have a great view of the fireworks. I think we would have had to camp out a lot earlier to get a spot close to the water, but I was happy with our spot, where I got quite a few terrific shots of fireworks exploding over the Cirque du Soleil tents.

On the way back to the car, we stopped at one of the Glacier Bilboquet locations for a taste of the island’s best ice cream. They had pop-up carts all over the port for the holiday, but there’s a more permanent location on one of the piers, before the parking pier.

Pretty great day in a great city to kick off the trip!


Entry filed under: Canada, Churches, Montréal, Photos, Québec. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jules  |  May 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Remember when the dude hit on me at the fireworks? Re-remembering this was fun times! 🙂

  • 2. Christina @ Food.Fitness.Fun.  |  May 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    This post is delicious! Great times all 25 hours of the day.


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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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