Once a remote fur-trading post, Montreal is now a thriving modern city brimming with Old World charm.
Author Maura Egan Photography Peter Frank Edwards
DAY THREE | You had a late night, so you sleep in—but not so much that you miss out on a stroll through the Mile End neighborhood (1), the latest bastion of bohemia to sprout up in this fast-evolving city. Here you’ll find Commissaires, a gallery-boutique hybrid featuring limited-edition designs by local artists as well as themed exhibitions. In a tiny new bookshop, Drawn & Quarterly (2), the retail outlet of the influential comic book and graphic novel publisher, you can easily spend several hours perusing everything from the latest Masterpiece Comics to a variety of art zines. Pick up an armful of reading material and head to one of the numerous independent coffee shops in the area. Café Olympico (3) brews high-grade espresso for Italian old-timers and twentysomethings alike, who jostle for elbow room at the bar. Try to score one of the nicked wooden tables and settle in with your latte and The Walrus, Canada’s answer to The Atlantic. Next on the agenda is sampling a legendary Montreal bagel, a species of bagel that polarizes connoisseurs (they’re sweeter, chewier and less doughy than their New York counterparts). Though locals will go on about the differences at the nearby joints, St-Viateur and Fairmount, both of these holes in the wall churn them out piping hot. Why not try both?
Walk it all off with a sunset tour of Parc du Mont-Royal (4), the city’s main park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York’s Central Park. At this time of year, you’ll see lots of cross-country skiers, while in the spring and summer, joggers and bikers predominate. After you huff and puff to the top of “la montagne,” as Montrealers call it (although to be honest, it’s not much more than a hill), you look down at all the charming rues and alleyways you’ve meandered for the past few days. It’s a beautiful sight in any language.
New Yorker MAURA EGAN thinks Montreal bagels are some of the best in the world.