Old Montreal

The old part of Montreal, down by the St Lawrence River, is beautiful to wander round. It’s also warm at the moment which, for refugees from the Scottish summer, is wonderful – breakfast outside? Yes please! We tramped around (well, apart from the time sitting in cafes) for seven hours yesterday and the highlights, for me, were the two Notre Dames.

Notre Dame de Bon Secours

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This is also known as the Sailors’ Church, and features twice in Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne:

“And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower”

“And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour”

This is more obvious from the back view, looking from the harbour:

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You can climb up the “wooden tower” and also visit the adjacent museum dedicated to St Marguerite Bourgeoys who had the original chapel built in 1657. (We also had coffee later in the day at one of the cafes beneath Suzanne’s “place near the river” which is apparently now part of the Auberge de la Place Royale.)

Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal

The other Notre Dame is the Basilica, a much grander affair, with gold stars twinkling from its blue ceiling. John took this fabulous photograph:

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The verdict

Old Montreal has the feel of a European city rather than a North American one. It’s very French, of course, but it also reminded me of home a bit – lots of grand 19th and early 20th century facades, as in the centre of Glasgow. The City Hall, pictured at the bottom of the post, is not unlike our own City Chambers in style.

Old Montreal’s a great place to eat too – Glasgow tries with its cafe society, but the weather is against it! Here, we liked Place Jacques Cartier and Rue St Paul which were both packed with restaurants spilling onto the streets. Not so many were open for breakfast, but we found Restaurant le Fripon on Jacques Cartier – much cheaper than the hotel and freshly cooked. Lunch and dinner were both on St Paul – Le Papillon for the former (HUGE salad which I thought would be a light lunch) and Dolcetto and Co for the latter. This was an Italian version of tapas which again was deceptively large. We ate too much, but it was all good. Always our downfall!

There are more pictures, if you are interested, on my Pinterest board of Montreal – although updating it is proving difficult over the hotel wifi and I might have to abandon that idea!

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