Bonjour Montréal!


Sami Gillette

A trip to Montréal, a city in Quebec, Canada, proved a great place to visit for foodies, history buffs, francophones and art fanatics alike. From Syracuse, the drive takes about four hours by car and a passport, as well as a story to tell the official about the prospective trip, are required to cross the border.

Rather than spending a steep price to stay at a local hotel, a fun, affordable option can be found through airbnb.com. It is a site that allows one to search for rooms and vacation rentals that are offered by various homeowners in the area. My friend, Mary Rose, and I found a pretty, spacious room for $50 a night in Le-Plateau-Mont-Royal, which was the perfect place to find fantastic food and practice our rudimentary French.

Numerous restaurants were open late into the night. Many advertised as “Apportez votre vin” (bring your own wine). Many restaurants were open with quaint tables on the street. People laughed and talked while enjoying their own wine and tapas or entrees that they had ordered.

I decided on a “prix fixe” menu. The French speaking waiter switched to English to help us navigate the menu. I had escargot in garlic butter as an appetizer, followed by steak with caramelized shallots, greens and steak frites. Dessert was a shared experience of an apple and caramel tart. All of the flavors were well developed and all ingredients were fresh. I was in food heaven.

After dinner we decided to visit Bar le Lab, which was highly recommended by a friend. The bartender informed us that le Lab is the top 17th bar in the world, and it certainly lived up to its reputation. Le Lab makes its own fresh syrups for mixing, and has a wide range of labels to select from. Some drinks had liqueur that was mixed and set on fire to caramelize and intensify the flavor, other drinks were served with fresh fruit and orchids as decoration. There was no limit as to what type of drinks were available and the bartenders were both informative and entertaining. Juggling glasses, anyone?

The next day involved one great culinary experience after another. Breakfast was eaten outside at a little terrace bakery/restaurant called Godley & Crème, which served fresh omelets and pastries. We then spent a couple of hours of shopping at a underground mall complex. Later we had an early dinner of fresh, flavorful Vietnamese food in the Quartier Chinois. We could not stay for Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, which is massive francophone music festival. Despite this, there was a great deal of street art and various museums in which to visit and spend time.

Montréal proved to be a fantastic weekend trip with much to offer. For more information or to plan your own trip visit tourisme-montreal.org.