Montreal, Je t’aime

Montreal was my favourite stop along a two week Eastern Canada train adventure. Yes, I travelled far and wide, and my favourite place was a city I’ve visited multiple times before, and lived in! (But I’ll have you know that having lived there does not make me biased because I was far too young to know how great a city I was in!)

My trip across Eastern Canada helped me realize that I’m a city girl at heart. While I can appreciate the charm and serenity small towns offer, I crave the energy, the lights, the museums and galleries, the cafes, the honking cars, the demonstrations and the protests, the fashion, the music and the graffiti, the crammed subway cars, and the sight of two foolish tourists carrying far too many suitcases around town. I may have been one of them.

So let me share some of my favourite spots around town:

Musée des beaux-arts

What drew me to the art museum was the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit. I was kind of obsessed with Fashion Television during my teens, so seeing haute couture up close was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. The mannequins looked a little creepy, especially when they closed their eyes and began chanting like a baroque choir, but once I got past that, the work was quite intricate. If I had to pick a favourite piece from the collection, it would be the can-can dress.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibit in Montreal

Though the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit had an admission fee, the permanent collection is free of charge. The one-sculpture-a-day project entitled La forme des jours (The Shape of Days) was my favourite in the contemporary hall, but if that’s too abstract for your liking, this gallery has everything from Rembrandt and Poussin to Matisse and Cézanne.

A Sculpture A Day

Musee des beaux-arts, Montreal

Mount Royal

Mount Royal has the best city views without a doubt, and if you don’t find cemeteries too morbid, Cimetière Mont-Royal is also worth exploring.


Montreal as Seen from Mount Royal

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

I’ve been to Montreal many times, but the basilica is one place I had neglected; it just seemed too touristy, but then I guess places are touristy for good reason. Would you go to Paris and not visit Notre Dame de Paris? Unthinkable, it’s up there with climbing the Eiffel Tower and setting foot in the Louvre. Well, Notre Dame the Montreal, too, is definitely worth the visit!

Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal

I decided to go in the evening for the light show. I envisioned a few spotlights casting their light on the stained glass windows, and perhaps a few lights over the altar, but I got a full on multimedia presentation instead! Draped curtains and a large white screen initially covered the altar. We were shown a film that guided us through Montreal’s early days and introduced us to the architect and workers who brought this vision to reality. And then the curtains were majestically whisked away to display an altar of teals, blues and gold. Ooohs and aaahs followed.

La Maison du Patriote

I’ve stayed in my fair share of hostels, but La Maison du Patriote is by far one of the coolest places I’ve ever slept in. It’s easy to miss from the street but once you’re in, the place is an explosion of art, colourful fabrics, chalk writing, and unusual sleeping arrangements.

La Maison du Patriote, Montreal

The dorms are located in the attic (have you ever slept in an attic?), and instead of walls curtains divide one bunk from the next. It was like camping indoors!

Been to Montreal? What were your favourite places?

Join the Conversation


    1. says: thatbackpacker

      The basilica is incredible! And Montreal is certainly worth the visit if you’re ever in Canada – just not in the middle of winter! 🙂

  1. says: heathercarson871

    I’ve somehow managed to miss Montreal 🙁 . Quebec CIty was mind blowing and I can’t wait to explore the rest of la belle province

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Montreal is amazing! I was little disappointed by Quebec City. I loved the old part inside the fort, but the rest of the city left me wanting more.

  2. says: Oneika the Traveller

    These are such lovely photos and you’re making me ashamed that I haven’t explored enough of my native country!

  3. says: Nate

    Loved this post! I’ve never been to Montreal but have heard only the best things. I’ve heard that it is SO beautiful and I can’t wait to visit to take some pictures! Also, that hostel looks sweet 🙂 I love hostels that have curtains instead of walls!

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