Tucked away in a hidden cottage, I awoke to a chilly Montréal and imagined myself opening my french windows singing Little Town from Beauty in the Beast. Sadly, the negative temperatures outside restrained my urge. No matter, I danced around singing Bonjour! excited to be amidst the beautiful French language, the Canadian cold, and the poutine. Bonjour Montréal!
There is no better time than the middle of winter to journey north of the border to the bustling island of Montréal. Okay, there are definitely better seasons to visit but for a girl who loves all things French and being only a three hour drive from my cozy Vermont hometown, Montréal becomes a very good idea. It was our third annual visit and we had no plans other than to indulge in all the things we happened upon during our last two visits. This included a few key finds - spanning the Latin Quarter and Mile End. My favorite is where the lights run a dim red and the hookah flows smooth. The best poutine in the city is aptly listed by The Montreal Blog and includes our favorite: La Banquise. Always a line. Always worth the wait. There are incredible cocktails at La Distillerie (with free flowing goldfish in mason jars!), but I've also discovered L'Gros Luxe this year. Wow. A vegetarian-friendly menu and drinks like a pickled martini in a dark green 1920s style had us returning for a second time.
During the day, well, you have to eat then too right? Luckily, the weather was warm (for Canada) and we walked to Mile End, the neighborhood honing the arts and culture scene. In years past, we only ventured there for the infamous bagels and a rest at Le Cagibi. But this year we stumbled into record stores, antique shops, and the historic Beautys diner, before the rush.
Wandering is my favorite form of travel. On a walk one evening (to digest all the cheese) it becomes apparent that the city is for artists. I wondered what makes a city decide that art and culture is important? For whatever reason, Montreal pumps out great art and as a mere passerby you can see it evidenced most in the wall murals. Here are my favorites captured along the journey. Does it ever make you think, why don't we value creating art like this more? Not as the audience, but a participant? Sometimes it takes a two-story mural that makes me laugh, and makes me think, leaving me with wonder.