Posts filed under ‘Montréal’

bonjour montréal!

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!


May 17, 2013 at 11:03 am 2 comments

Photo Post: Montréal, part deux

Before we left Montréal, Jules and I visited the Oratoire St-Joseph, which is Canada’s largest church. It’s on Mont Royal in the centre of Montréal, so the views from the church were great, as well as the architecture and history of the church itself.

View from the front of the Oratoire St-Joseph, including the gardens on site

The main part of the church. When we went upstairs and went inside, the organist was practicing, making the experience that much more impressive!

There was a separate room with several different places for lighting candles.

The small chapel—this is the first part that we saw when we entered. More intimate, and it seemed like it was used more often during the week for smaller services.

On the stairs outside the church

September 7, 2010 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

Photo Post: Vieux-Montréal

Vieux-Montréal (or Old Montréal, for the anglophones) is easily my favourite part of the city. Even filled with tourists on a warm summer Sunday, it didn’t lose its charm.

First photos of the day were in the park along the river.

Rue St-Paul is cobblestoned and pedestrians-only for a few blocks in the heart of the neighbourhood.

Chapelle de Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, my favourite building in all of Canada. Even though I’ve still never been inside. When Jules and I tried to go in, they were having a private concert and a woman was guarding the door.

Gorgeous sky and the Chapelle from the opposite side. For many years, I thought that the statue on the top was an upturned hand. Don’t ask me why I saw it that way, but we call it “The Hand Church” now.

Place Jacques Cartier and a summer sky before rain

Jules in Vieux-Montréal

Now it’s my turn.

Marché (Market) Bonsecours and a field of daisies and lavender

We walked out the end of one of the piers, then turned around for magic hour city views.

We hung around Vieux-Montréal until the last bit of light.

August 29, 2010 at 11:28 pm Leave a comment


On a grey Sunday morning, Jules and I left Christina’s condo in Toronto, Montréal-bound. Both of us love Montréal. We really love Montréal. It’s J’s favourite city in the world and it’s my favourite city in North America (if hometowns don’t count). So the weather was a bit disagreeable for us, but fortunately, things cleared up by the time we crossed into Québec, and it turned out to be quite a pleasant day for wandering in Old Montréal.

Since our time was limited and we couldn’t afford to shop anyway, we decided to skip downtown and the bustle of Rue Ste-Catherine. This also meant skipping two of my favourite stops in Montréal—the Indigo bookstore downtown and the Second Cup where I had my first banana mocha—but it was worth it, because there’s so much to see and photograph (and eat) in Old Montréal.

For those that aren’t familiar with this fantastic city, Old Montréal is the part of the city that forms a bridge between North America and Europe. It’s a bit slower-paced, a bit more crowded with tourists during the summer, and a lot more cobblestoned. It’s on the St. Lawrence River, centred around an old shipping port, and it’s full of picturesque buildings, souvenir shops and street artists, restaurants with cute terraces, and music.

Jules and I picked a restaurant with a terrace in back called Jardin Nelson. I ordered a crêpe with mushrooms and the filling was delicious, but I thought the crêpe was just a tiny bit too thick. I’m super picky about my crêpes, though! The highlight was the jazz trio playing on the terrace, especially since we were in Montréal on the first weekend of Jazz Fest, and the sangria, which our waiter swore to us was quite famous in the city. True or not, he convinced us to try it, and I’m glad that we did!

Before we went back out to the west part of the island to stay with Laura, a friend of ours, we stopped at an ice cream stand that was close to where we parked, on one of the quais. Le Glacier Bilboquet didn’t look like much, but the sign out front said that it was the most famous ice cream in Montréal. Well, if that was true, then we obviously had to try it! Again, I’m still glad that we did. Their coconut ice cream (not so easy to find!) was fantastic and light, more like a sorbet than an ice cream.

When we left Laura’s on Monday morning, we had one more stop. In all of our trips to Montréal, neither Jules nor I had ever been to the Oratoire St. Joseph, on Montréal’s “mountain” in the centre of the city. It’s the largest church in Canada and a site of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics. The size of the church, as well as it’s mountainside location, made it impressive, but when we entered the basilica and the organist was practicing, we were blown away. There’s nothing like a pipe organ to make the music geek in me do a little dance of joy. Unfortunately, I think I’m spoiled for all future cathedral visits…if the organ isn’t defeaning as I take in the stained glass, I’m afraid it’s just not going to be as impressive.

It’s the blend of European flair and the sleek, modern North American flavour that draws me to Montréal. It’s easy to imagine myself living here, but in another way, I’m kind of glad that I don’t. I wouldn’t want to risk the city losing its novelty. What if I found out that it irritated me after a few months? I think I’d rather just savour my visits. Next time, I swear, I’ll manage to stay longer than 24 hours. (I said that last time, too. Fail.)

July 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment


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