An October 2003 trip
to Montreal by tamtbell
Quote: Each time I have visited Montreal, I have fallen more and more in love with it. Whether it's the food, the people, the entertainment, or just the atmosphere, this city seems to just get better and better!
Hotel | "Marriott Chateau Champlain"
For more information regarding the Marriott Chateau Champlain, click on the following link: http://www.marriott.com/epp/default.asp?MarshaCode=YULCC
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 2, 2003
Marriott Chteau Champlain
1 PL DU CANADA
The manager or owner came forward as we were looking over the menu posted outside the door and asked us would we like to join them for lunch. With a quick look over my shoulder at my husband to see how he felt about it, we said yes. Now I was quite disconcerted when the manager/owner asked me, "Would we like to sit outside?" My first thought was, "Outside? Outside it is cold and windy, no thanks." However, my thoughts must have been apparent to the manager/owner by the look on my face, as she advised me that the patio was heated and covered. At this point, I agreed quickly without even a look at my husband.
We were seated in a corner table that actually was just a cheap plastic table and a set of two chairs that you can buy at Walmart. The room itself was sealed by plastic walls and a ceiling and heated to a temperature of 60 degrees or so, which was pretty comfortable, as there was a constant breeze of heated air from the patio heaters and the outside fireplace.
After a few minutes, our waiter came by to greet us and drop off some menus; he was very friendly. The menus featured such dishes as roasted wild boar, rabbit, deer, quail, and handmade pastas, as well as the restaurant's own heated spiced wine, which was a welcome drink on a cold day. The price for each dish was very reasonable, and many of the dishes included a salad or soup, the main dish, dessert, and coffee. However, they charged an arm and a leg for their wine. My husband and I shared a small bottle of Beaujolais and paid a large price of $18.00. I had venison medallions in raspberry sauce, salad, and a miniature lemon meringue pie, and my husband had cream-of-carrot soup, hand-stuffed tortellini, and maple cake. Both of our late lunches were truly excellent, and we both left very full - in fact, I almost declined my free dessert, as I was afraid I couldn’t eat it, but eat it I did with my husband’s help.
The service here, I admit, is somewhat slow, but if you are in the mood to share a good bottle of wine, talk with your traveling companion, people-watch, and just simply relax, this restaurant is a good choice. It is relatively close to Old Montreal and a great place to simply make a stop and enjoy some very delicious food, companionship, and French atmosphere.
Bon Secours Market
The interior walls are painted in a blood red, I guess a somewhat in vogue color, and there are black and white prints of actors of just about every age hanging on the walls. There are small hanging lamps throughout the establishment that supply a little light, which also supplies a large amount of atmosphere and ambience. Our light above our table unfortunately broke midway through our meal and couldn’t be repaired -- that’s okay though; it just added to the romantic atmosphere already present. As like other Montreal restaurants, we found the food on the menu a great bargain, but disappointingly, the wine was just so very expensive. My husband and I both had the seafood casserole, which was simply a full lobster, several shrimp, mussels, and scallops in a rich seafood broth served in a large bowl -- it was $29.95 and also included a salad or soup and coffee. The broth was so delicious that I couldn’t help but dip my food in the broth and the crusty and soft bread served with the meal was delicious. The staff here is very nice and very quick. In fact, right after the management heard my husband spilled some broth on his lap, they were right over helping to clean up and apologizing profusely in a very French manner.
I would recommend this restaurant; however, I probably wouldn’t try it again until much later as I still wish to try the other restaurants in the area.
254 Rue Saint Paul East
Restaurant | "Bar Le Senateur"
The bar is located directly off the hotel lobby and is very dimly lit. It has very comfy chairs that rather reminded me of small love seats that are very low to the ground as well as the main bar area in the center of the room. We took our seats in a far dark corner of the room and were immediately greeted by a very friendly bartender who took our orders for drinks and gave us some menus. My husband and I both ordered a draft beer and then looked over the menus, while relaxing and just simply talking about anything and everything.
Within a few minutes the bartender returned, took our order, dropped off our beers, and was off again, leaving us to enjoy each other's company in the relative quiet of the bar. The food here is not bad for the price. I ordered a platter of chicken wings, which included 15 wings with sliced carrots and celery, fries, and blue cheese dressing, and my husband ordered the clam chowder. The wings were pretty good, however, I have to say if you go to this bar try the clam chowder. It’s absolutely delicious. It was very creamy, had large chunks of clams and potatoes, and literally melted in your mouth!
After my husband helped me finish my wings and I helped him finish his chowder, we didn't really want to return back to our rooms, so we both ordered one more drink each, me a Grand Marnier on the rocks, my husband an Irish Creme on the rocks.
The food here is not extremely pricey but the alcohol again, like many of the other restaurants we went to, was rather expensive. This bar actually we found was very family friendly as a woman, her friend, and her children sat down to dinner at a table somewhat close to us. This bar/café/bistro would be a great place to just have a small meal, a drink or two, and relax after a long day if you are staying at the hotel. If however, you are not staying at the Marriott Chateau Champlain I would not suggest making a trip from wherever you are just so you can eat and drink here, as there are many other better places, with better atmosphere to eat and drink in Old Port Montreal.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 8, 2003
Bar Le Senateur at Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain
1050 De La Gauchetiere West
Restaurant | "Restaurant Samuel de Champlain"
The staff here is almost overly friendly, as we constantly had someone coming by to refill our juice glasses, coffee cups, or just to check if we were doing okay. The buffet here though isn’t that great as my husband each morning searched in vain for French crepes and found none. After our crepes that we tried in Quebec City he was more than excited to eat some more. Each morning, however, we found sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, French toast, bagels, and, of course, very delicious croissants as well as some of the other usual breakfast foods like hot and cold cereal, fruit, yogurt and muffins. Breakfast here is reasonably priced, for both my husband and I we spent approximately $30 or so. Just like other buffets, you can return over and over again until you are completely full, making this a pretty good value for you money. This restaurant, at least during the mornings, is very family-friendly, as we saw many large families here and there dining. Plus I am not sure if it is just that we visited the hotel during a quieter time of year or just many people do not dine in Samuel de Champlain restaurant during breakfast but this restaurant each morning seemed quite empty as at most there were only about a small handful of people dining.
To repeat what I said about Bar Le Senateur, also located in the Marriott, if you are staying at the hotel, this is a great place to start your day with some breakfast or possibly end it with dinner, but if you are not staying at the Marriott, it would not be worth it to venture over to it. There are many other better places to go to eat in Montreal, where you may watch people walk by, truly appreciate beautiful architecture, enjoy French atmosphere and hospitality, and simply to sit back and relax and enjoy a good meal.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 8, 2003
Restaurant Samuel de Champlain at Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain
1050 De La Gauchetiere West
Attraction | "Montreal Planetarium/Planetarium de Montreal"
That evening, once the theater had opened, we took our seats, which vaguely resembled either movie-theatre chairs or recliners. Once the Planetarium consultant entered the room, the lights dimmed and the show began. At this point, as we all looked up, a view of Montreal at night in all its bright glory could be seen, but very few of the stars, which were of course the "star" of the show, could be. Our consultant then advised us as the light of the stars increased and the light of the city decreased that he was taking us out into the country where we could see the stars even better. I cannot describe the feeling that I got as the stars became brighter and brighter and filled the "sky." Of course, I picked out stars I knew here and there, but there were so many of them that I had no idea about! Throughout the hour, we learned about the "Messy List" and which constellations give you the key to the map of stars. After it was all said and done, I was more than excited to shake our consultant’s hand and thank him for such an educational and wonderful experience. Truly, this show brought tears to my eyes as I was exposed to the wonders that are present in our own night sky.
For more information regarding the Montreal Planetarium, click on the following link:
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 2, 2003
Planétarium de Montréal
1000 St-Jacques St West
Montreal, Quebec H3C 1G7
+1 514 872 4530
Attraction | "Montreal Botanical Gardens"
Upon entering you then have a choice, head to the left or the right, we went to the left, as my main interest was the monastery, herb and fruits and veggie gardens. Unfortunately since our visit was in late October, most of the plants had been affected by frosts and freezes so many of the plants were dying or dead. Enough were still alive though to make it very educational and informative as my husband and I identified several plants that I have always wanted to see. After around an hour and a half of walking, the wind picked up, it grew colder and it began to snow very lightly. We decided enough walking outside as we were both freezing; it was time to thaw out a bit.
We headed to the insectarium where we were advised that admission is free upon paying to enter the botanical gardens. We walked through the collections of dead bugs pinned to display cases and live bugs and spiders. Honestly the size of the collection on display here is not truly impressive at least for adults, however I imagine for children this would be much more interesting than herb gardens. One thing that I thought was rather interesting was the beehive that was housed in clear glass so you could actually watch the bees at work. After watching the bees for a few moments we decided we had both heated up sufficiently to go back outside so we hurriedly walked towards one of the greenhouses and at that point began to take our time and just enjoy all the beautiful and colorful plants surrounding us. We identified plants that we had only heard about, as well as plants that we were familiar with. We relaxed to the sounds of waterfalls, the caress of the misty air on our faces and the smell of orchids and other growing things filling the air.
One important note, there are no ATMs anywhere in the park so bring extra cash, credit or debit cards. Plus a member of the gardening staff advised us that the best time to visit the herb, monastery, and fruit and veggie gardens is during mid August. Most of all be prepared to walk, as the Park is huge! There is a trolley that can take you just about anywhere in the gardens but then you would miss most of the exhibits!
For more information regarding the Montreal Botanical Gardens click on the following link: .
Montreal Botanical Garden
4101 rue Sherbrooke Est
Montreal, Quebec H1X 2B2
Attraction | "Casino de Montreal"
The casino can either be driven to, but then you have parking costs or you can simply take the yellow line metro to Jean Drapeau Station and hop on one of the free buses. The second way is much easier as we have done both. Entry to the casino is free however my husband and I both noticed that on a Saturday night the average minimum bet was $25 on the tables and every day the minimum bet on the slot machines varies from $.25 to $1. Also, another note: weekend evenings are understandably very busy and the casino becomes extremely crowded, so much so that it is difficult to move about freely.
If you have children, remember not to bring them here as the legal age limit for drinking and gambling is 19 years old. Also, if you do not like lots and lots of noise, this is not the place for you as upon entering, be prepared to be assaulted by the sound of at least a hundred or so slot machines ringing loudly.
There are four restaurants located in the casino, Nuances, La bonne carte, Via Fortuna, and L’entre mise, as well as numerous bars that are scattered throughout the entire casino. My husband and I have honestly never stayed long enough at the casino to try any of these restaurants, as we don’t ever seem to have very good luck at this casino. Most of all this casino is like a vertical maze, which I jokingly told my husband that it is meant to keep the guests in, as they can’t find their way back out. It is a very impressive sight when with all the glass staircases in the center of building, the glass elevator, and escalators here and there. In the very end though to me anyways, a casino is a casino is a casino. They’re just about all alike.
For more information regarding the Montreal Casino, click on the following link:
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 2, 2003
Casino de Montréal
1 du Casino Ave
Montreal, Quebec H3C 4W7
Attraction | "Fall in love again with life at Historic Montreal"
The best way to get here if you are taking the metro is to get off at Champ De Mars station where you will take flights of stairs both up and down before reaching the doors to the outside. Here youÕll need to take a right and head up a very steep hill, cross the street and ÒVoilaÓ you are at almost the beginning of Old Port as well as you get a very nice view of Bonsecours Market or Marche Bonsecours as its locally called. This building is very old as it dates back to approximately 1850 or so and has been used as City Hall, housing for the parliament for a short time and a public Market. Today it has many art studios, interesting furniture shops, small clothing stores and also an exhibition hall upstairs. Downstairs there are three restaurants, Cabaret du Roy, Le Petit Paysan, and Forget. After a leisurely lunch at Forget my husband and I were ready to head off once again for a relaxing stroll down Rue Saint Paul, which is very scenic and filled with shops and restaurants here and there. If you continue this way you will hit a large open area called Place Jacques Cartier that I am sure during the summer time is absolutely beautiful however during the fall it is still impressive. If you have time you can double back and walk down Rue de la Commune, which has some more great examples of beautiful architecture.
Also since you are in the area you might as well also head up to Notre Dame Basilique which you can get to by following Rue Saint Paul and making a right at Rue Saint Sulpice. This is an absolutely stunning site that you wonÕt want to miss.
This entire area is surprisingly compact and very easy to walk through as it only took my husband and I approximately 2 and a half hours to walk through the entire area. Plus there are other activities that are relatively close, such as the Science Center, the Imax Theater, an The Museum of Anthropology to name a few. To get more information I would either suggest asking your concierge for a map as we did or go to Marche Bonsecours and they have free tourist maps of the area.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 3, 2003
St Laurent and the St Lawrence River
Upon arriving at this station, head up the stairs from Le Metro, at which point you will see La Baie, the local department store. Turn an immediate right, and you will see some of the stores that make up Eaton Centre.
We walked around the mall, looking in stores that sold clothing, books, shoes, household appliances, as well as many other miscellaneous stores. There were quite a few sales going on during our visit, so a very nice flatware set with an oak storage chest, a pair of warm snow boots, new socks, and a Dean Koontz book written in French seemed to just jump in our bags magically. Before we knew it we were laden with heavy bags, my feet and knees began to get sore again, and it was about lunchtime. So we decided why not just have a lunch.
This time we headed to the food court in the mall, which had everything from gourmet coffee shops to Chinese, American, and Italian food. The entire food court area is very open and great for just relaxing after some shopping, talking with your companion, or simply watching the people walk briskly from shop to shop. Plus, compared to Old Port prices, these lunches were more than reasonable; this time we only spent approximately $10 for both our lunches, which included sodas, and two plates heavily loaded with freshly cooked Chinese food.
After relaxing and allowing my feet to rest, we headed back off to the hotel, as we both decided that if we stayed any longer we would just keep acquiring items here and there until we were unable to carry it back. At McGill station, we waited forthe train that headed back towards Honere-Beaugrand, our arms full with large bags, when my husband and I made an unexpected friend. A local and his son wishing to know when the next train was due sent me into a paralysis, as I tried to translate what he was saying. Soon we all boarded Le Metro, laughing as we all attempted to speak to one another, me in my rather rusty French and both father and son in their very rapid local dialect. At this moment, as I noticed others around me speaking their French-Canadian dialect, my husband standing near me, the vibration under my feet from Le Metro, the slightly musty and sweaty smell of the subway, and my feeble attempts at French, I suddenly felt like I was at home.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 7, 2003
705 Ste-Catherine St W
Montreal, Quebec H3B 4G5
+1 514 288 3708
We stayed at the Marriott Chateau Champlain, which is only about a block away from the train station; however, it is pretty close to a rather ugly part of town. If you get your room on the wrong side (facing away from the city towards the water), you’ll most likely get a view of the industrial areas as well as quite a bit of graffiti.
The thing I noticed walking through the train station as well as the underground city was, first, in Montreal most locals are rather fit, which I then attributed to the fact that they walk very, very fast! It's almost kind of hard to keep up with everyone if you’re not used to it, so be prepared for a little cardiovascular exercise. During this trip, we toured a large amount of the city as well as tasting a lot of the local cuisine found in Old Port. The restaurants are charming and offer pretty good prices on their food, but the wine, we noticed, was rather expensive. I guess they have to make their money somewhere.
We also visited the Montreal Botanical Gardens, where I learned that late October is definitely not the time to visit, as many of the plants of course were dead or dying. The Insectarium, which was a welcome entertainment for people searching for somewhere to warm up on a cold autumn day, had a rather small collection of bugs, bees, and spiders. (YUCK!) The good news is that the Insectarium is free upon paying your admission to the Gardens. If you plan to walk along the historic district and visit such attractions such as Place Jacques-Cartier, Notre-Dame Basilica, Marche Bonsecours, and Rue de la Commune and are utilizing Le Metro, I would suggest getting off at the Champ de Mars stop, as the walk is rather short but steep and gets you to almost the beginning of the historic and scenic area. You can stop at Place d’Arms; however, there is construction going on over there and the walk is somewhat treacherous to most of the areas, especially at night.
If you are interested in visiting La Ronde, the Biodome, or the Casino and plan to utilize the Metro, hop on the Yellow line at station Berri-Uqam and head towards Longueil. Get off at the Jean-Drapeau station and there are free buses that you can take to head to any of those attractions upon showing your Metro stub. I have driven previously to the Casino and I have to say this is the easier way to do it, especially in a city like Montreal. Our last full day was spent shopping in Eaton Centre and visiting the Planetarium, which, by the way, was only a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Now I know I have mentioned Le Metro here quite a bit, and I have to suggest that if you plan to tour as much as we did, buy a tourist pass, as it allows you unlimited rides for however many days you purchase. This during our visit was $7.00 Canadian per person, and I figure that if we had not done this, instead of spending $28.00 for two days, we would have spent approximately $50.00, as we did one heck of a lot of hopping on and off.
All in all, this was one of the best small trips that I have taken in a while. Using the Metro and VIA was an excellent choice that left us with very few transportation worries; the hotel, while I didn’t get the view I requested, was still very nice and comfortable; the food was excellent; and the atmosphere just about everywhere was friendly, open, and truly welcoming. Locals here seem to have a joie de vivre, or joy of life, that is truly contagious. On Monday morning, as our train departed from the city to head back to Kingston, I found myself saying one last goodbye to what I feel became a really good friend. Au revoir, Montreal mon ami, au revoir.
For more info, click on the following link: http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/B2C/00/default.asp