Why You Should Visit Montréal

Church in Montreal Quebec Canada

It’s a difficult task to sum up in a few words the adventures you experience while traveling. So, allow me the opportunity to express the wonder of the welcoming city of Montréal, Québec.


Montréal was a captivating blend of Old World beauty dashed with New World charm. Staggered throughout it’s towering skyline were highlights of the city’s beginnings, some of which were breathtaking churches heavily influenced by European architecture.

Inside Notre-Dame Basilica

Notre-Dame Basilica

The most mesmerizing building to me was the Notre-Dame Basilica located in Old Montréal. Standing under the gaze of the giant Virgin Mary, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Joseph peering from the church’s façade made me feel incredibly small. As if the sight of the Gothic architecture on the outside wasn’t enough, the view when walking the rows of wooden pews inside is astounding. The stained glass windows along the left and right tell the story of Montréal’s founding as Ville Marie, the intricate ceiling depicts the heavens, the statues in the archway up front coincide with Biblical sacrifices and the organ at the back overwhelms with its might.

Top of Mount Royal in Montreal Quebec

Mount Royal

It’s not a trip to Montréal without a birds-eye view on Mount Royal. We were dropped off at the bottom of the mountain by our Uber driver and began the slow hike up the mountain. It was hilarious how sloth-like we were as we slid (but never busted it) along the icy path while people in spiked sneakers zoomed past us on their morning run. We stopped at the student center to admire the view and get in on the #mtlmoments action.

Lunch at Tommy Cafe by Where Woman Wanders

Montréal Food Scene

To warm up during our adventures, we popped our heads into local cafes and hung out in the Underground City. As Seth describes it, Montréal is a hidden foodie gem. The city thrives off of cafes and the food is delicious. The big point of our trip was to make it a culinary adventure and live like the locals. From Cacao 70 in the Gay Village where I had the best hot chocolate I’ve ever poured down my throat to O.Noir where Seth and I dined in pitch black and were served by blind waiters, Montreal’s food scene alone was worth the trip.

Sign in Montreal Quebec restaurant

Montréalers

Speaking of locals, Montréalers were so kind. Québec is primarily French speaking and while Seth was delighted in every encounter he had to speak French, most of the people switch between French and English with ease. If I had to go alone, I’d be completely comfortable. All the signs are in French, but it isn’t difficult to understand the message they convey. Truthfully, I thought Montréalers had a very Southern-esque spirit in that they are incredibly polite and cordial, even more so than actual Southerners.

It’s a beautiful city I think everyone should take the chance to visit (and the locals really harp on coming in the spring when festivals are in store).

Interactive Seesaws in Montreal Quebec
Montreal Quebec scenery Notre-Dame Basilica

Bon Appétit: Our Top 10 Montréal Eateries

Perhaps incredible food isn’t the first thing you think of when planning a trip to Montréal. It should be. Not well known to most Americans, Montréal is a hidden foodie gem. Seth and I made our trip to this wonderful city a culinary adventure while also living like the locals. Armed with Instagram and a few Pinterest posts, I spent each night planning out which cafes and restaurants we would visit based on what the locals shared.

Cantinho de Lisboa by Where Woman Wanders

Cantinho de Lisboa

Our first cafe stop was actually by accident, but it was an accident with a delicious outcome. We were headed to Olive et Gourmando, which we learned to be closed for a couple of weeks. Across the street sat Cantinho de Lisboa, so we took the chance and went inside. It had a charming atmosphere, bright yellow with giant roosters posted on one wall and local goods scattered throughout the store. The waitress said we made a great decision when we both got the porc mariné (a marinated pork sandwich). She wasn’t kidding. Pork, cheese, aioli and yellow and orange tomatoes made the best blend of flavors.

Toi et Moi cafe

Then we hit up Toi et Moi cafe where Seth got a Croque Monsieur and I had Eggs Benedict. Can I please go back just for this one meal? The Hollandaise coating the Eggs Benedict was the bomb and every corner of the plate was filled with something yummy, including roasted potatoes and fresh fruit.

Hot Chocolate at Cacoa 70 by Where Woman Wanders

Cacoa 70

At Cacoa 70 in the Gay Village, I had the best hot chocolate ever. We both got the Peru, a slightly bitter chocolate with nodes of dried fruit. It was on point. The dish came with a giant goblet coated with chocolate on the bottom and chocolate on the sides. It got all over my face, but that brought me little worry as I downed the drink and warmed up from the snowy streets.

Shawarma and Pizza, Pizza Plus

There were a couple of times we had food delivered to our AirBnB (shout out to Coco’s place). We had Shawarma one night – so good with pickled beets, tender meat, tzatziki sauce and more – from Shawarma and Pizza. Another night, we American-ized the Canadian dish of poutine by getting it on a pizza from Pizza Plus. GREAT DECISION. Probably Seth’s favorite.

M Cafe

It wouldn’t be a trip to Montreal without some macaroons. We picked ours up at M Cafe. I got tiramisu (favorite, tasted like ice cream), lime basil (true to its name and awesome), lemon (mmm..lemon squares, anyone?), salted caramel, chocolate and raspberry.

Lunch at Tommy Cafe by Where Woman Wanders

Tommy

We also adventured to the cafe Tommy, partly because many folks our age hung out there and partly because so did Rihanna. We had the butternut squash soup paired with a roast beef and cheddar sandwich. Both were delicious and the atmosphere (books, desks and tables, art) reminded me of local cafes back in Oxford, MS. I also had my first cannoli – yum!

Kantapia lunch by Where Woman Wanders

Kantapia

Once when we were desperate to get warm, we slid into Kantapia, a Korean restaurant. They gave us kimchi and potatoes soaked in soy sauce “on the house” (still thinking about those potatoes). We had fried dumplings as an appetizer and I got Raymun avec fromage (Ramen with cheese…and egg and veggies) for my main meal. It had a wonderful spice to it and warmed me up for more time out on the town.

Schwartz's deli by Where Woman Wanders

Schwartz’s deli

One morning, we walked to Schwartz’s deli to eat the smoked meat sandwich, as recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain. Layers of smoked brisket sat between two slices of rye bread slathered with mustard. It was so good and the restaurant has been a staple in Montreal for so long that it even has it’s own musical (no joke). The atmosphere reminded me of Bill’s Hamburgers in Amory, MS.

O.Noir blind restaurant by Where Woman Wanders

O.Noir

One night, we decided to dine in pitch black at O.Noir restaurant where blind waiters guide and serve you. The whole idea is to experience what it is like for those who are blind while awakening your other senses of taste and smell. Seth got a surprise appetizer and loved it! It turned out to be scallops, something he would have never tried had he known. His lobster pasta was also great and I had a delicious time experiencing the flavors of my balsamic glazed shrimp with bacon, cucumber salad with fresh lime sour cream and an avocado puree. I topped it off with a delightful dark chocolate terrine.

If you ever venture to Montréal, I definitely recommend all of the places mentioned!