An April 2001 trip
to Montreal by annekmadison
Quote: Visiting Montreal was like being swept away to Europe--with some significant differences!
Our objective for the trip was to get a little relaxation, eat some good French food, and listen to some jazz. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city with a warm heart.
Hotel | "Marriott Chateau Champlain"
The Marriott had some great weekend deals going, which is why we initially decided to stay there. For $113 per night (Canadian) we got a fine room, a full breakfast delivered every morning by room service, and lots of great hospitality.
The hotel is centrally located in the downtown business district, convenient to the waterfront and to Old Montreal. From the outside it’s the sort of precast-concrete fantasy that was probably in vogue thirty years ago, with an oddly knobby appearance. Inside, the rooms are graced by enormous arched bay windows that let in plenty of light and don’t interfere with the wonderful views.
Although we weren’t on a concierge floor, we found the service both accommodating and personal. For some reason the hotel concierge was seldom at her desk. But the people at the bell desk were always ready with fresh newspapers, tickets, restaurant and tour suggestions, maps – everything needed for an enjoyable stay. Further, they took the time to listen so that they could discern our true interests. No pre-canned advice here.
The pool, spa, fitness center, and workout room were open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. What that meant for us was twice-daily relaxing soaks in the whirlpool and steam, another way to reinforce that we were really on vacation.
You could do a lot worse than this comfortable, hospitable, centrally located hotel.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 26, 2001
Marriott Chteau Champlain
1 PL DU CANADA
We stumbled into this tiny bistro on Friday, tired after our late night out and in need of a mid-morning snack. We returned for our Easter Sunday dinner, lured back by the kindness and charm of the owner/hostess, the quiet and comfortable atmosphere, and the promise of an excellent meal, country-style. We weren’t disappointed.
Forget is located on Rue de Saint Paul in the basement of the Bon Secours Market, a few blocks from the water in Old Montreal. It’s not difficult to miss; it’s down a few stairs at the end of the market nearest the old church. Summers bring the opportunity for outdoor dining. We were there in early April and enjoyed the coziness of the small dining room which features rough stone walls, beamed ceilings, and works by Canadian artists. The room seems to invite quiet conversation. We made friends during our Friday snack with several gentlemen who owned businesses nearby, and we were delighted to find them there again on Sunday.
Our dinners were simple but delicious and attractively prepared. Our salads contained early greens with a variety of tastes and textures. Salmon arrived in a deep dish covered with a flaky crust. It incorporated large chunks of fresh salmon in a light sauce, with a few fresh vegetables, seasoned delicately so that the taste of the salmon was always emphasized. My dinner was boeuf bourgignon—not a very adventurous meal, but it was deeply flavored, full of good beef and little fresh mushrooms, and entirely satisfying to an appetite sharpened by an early-spring afternoon outdoors. We enjoyed our meal with glasses of home-made apple cider brewed from apples grown on the owner’s farm, and we ended our Easter meal with lots of hot, strong coffee.
Forget is the perfect spot for a relaxing meal after a day spent in Old Montreal. You’ll enjoy the excellent food and the kind hospitality.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 26, 2001
Bon Secours Market
Attraction | "Charlie Biddle's"
One thing we knew when we set out for Montreal was that we were determined to have at least one evening of good jazz. But how do you pick a jazz venue in a city so rich in jazz venues? Everyone from IGOUGO members to cab drivers to the bell captain at our hotel was agreed on this one point: Head straight for Biddle’s.
On our first night in Montreal we did just that, and we weren’t disappointed. The music gets going at about 10 p.m. most nights, and when we got there shortly before ten, there wasn’t a seat in the place, not even in the small bar. We kept a sharp eye out, and by the time we’d finished our first round of drinks, we found a table.
Drinks can be on the expensive side. After a $28 initial round consisting of one bourbon and one Heineken (including the cover charge), we switched to the house coffee, an amaretto-laced concoction that’s amenable to being nursed along and that doesn’t break the budget at $6.95. The bar is a busy place, so if you’ve paid your cover charge, don’t forget to remind your waitress of that fact.
The menu consists of American-style specialties: Ribs, barbecued chicken, and wings. We didn’t eat, but we observed that the prices were moderate. The room certainly isn’t elegant – it doesn’t have to be – but you have a fine view of the stage and the musicians from wherever you’re seated.
A little tired from our day of travel, we kept telling each other "Just a set or two." Then it was "Just one more round." We ended by staying until closing time. The music was provided by a trio hosted by Charlie Biddle himself on bass. He has a knack for hand-picking talented guest musicians. The jazz was what call "straight ahead." Not too avant-garde, nothing too cerebral, just fine music well played by men who know and love their art. Each song seemed to invite us to stay and enjoy just one more number until we found we’d closed the place down. It couldn’t have made us any happier.
2060 Aylmer St
Montreal, Quebec H3A 2E3
+1 514 842 8656
We were lured into Bonsecours Market on a rainy Good Friday by a window display of bright yellow umbrellas proclaiming "Merde Il Pleut". I had to have one, and it was mine in short order. The owner of the shop kindly agreed to keep it for me while we finished our exploration of this interesting old marketplace.
The market, built in 1856, is undergoing some extensive renovations. It has been a commercial hall for most of its long life, and at the present time it features a number of indoor shops. It was the perfect destination for our rainy-day tour of the area. The shops have a decidedly Canadian flavor, featuring works of art, jewelry, furniture, and other treasures created by artisans from Montreal and across Canada.
Downstairs are two restaurants, including our favorite, Forget. The upstairs features meeting rooms and will incorporate historic exhibits when the renovations have been completed.
The block of Rue de Saint Paul where the market is located is lively and attractive. The cobblestone street is packed with small shops and restaurants. One of our favorites, directly across the street from the market, was "Senteurs de Provence" featuring natural herbal fragrances, soaps, candles, gift items, and lovely yellow earthenware pottery. "Tant q’il y aura des fleurs" was a florist shop with a difference. Besides the many fresh-cut flowers and plants, you can shop for whimsical pottery and china created by local artisans.
We completed our visit to Bonsecours Market with a visit to the Chapel of Notre Dame de Bonsecours, a short block away. The church is known as the "Sailor’s Church" because of the numerous ship’s models donated by sailors as thank offerings for being saved from shipwrecks. The church was in a state of quiet repose on Good Friday afternoon as it awaited the return of its decorations and flowers for Easter Sunday.
350 St-Paul St E
Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1H2
+1 514 872 7730
Attraction | "Old Montreal"
The oldest area of Montreal is located just between the downtown business district and the waterfront. It’s easily accessible by Metro and not a long walk if you are staying at a downtown hotel. On Easter Sunday it seemed that the entire city had thronged to the area to stroll, look in the shops, enjoy a coffee or drink at a sidewalk café, or have Easter dinner in one of the area’s many restaurants.
If the Basilica represents the soul of Old Montreal, then certainly its heart must be the Place Jacques Cartier. This open cobblestone plaza is closed to vehicular traffic. In addition to the throngs of visitors—residents and tourists—you’re likely to find artists and artisans with their work on display, musicians, photographers, magicians, acrobats, and mimes. There’s something new to experience everywhere you look.
The plaza is dominated at its upper end by City Hall. Although it was built in 1872, it is one of the most modern structures in the area. Both sides are lined with restaurants and sidewalk cafes, perfect spots to stop for a while and enjoy the passing scene. You can also enjoy a ride in one of the many horse-drawn carriages that seem to inhabit the area.
Just two blocks down the hill from the Place Jacques Cartier is Montreal’s Old Port. Here you’ll find the city’s science center I-Sci which boasts exhibits for all age groups, a kid-magnet of a shop, and a simple cafeteria if your young folks begin to starve. The IMAX theater offers films in both French and English at different times of the day. You’ll want to check its schedule first and time your visit according to your preferred showing.
Stroll down the broad sidewalk behind the science center and you’ll arrive at last at the waterfront. Many of its attractions were closed during our early-spring visit. But the view of the St. Lawrence River is delightful and includes the fascinating Habitat—an avant-garde housing complex built for the 1967 World’s Fair. The Clock Tower, an unmistakable landmark, is the location for catching one of the many tour boats during the warmer months of the year.
We were reluctant to end our Sunday afternoon in Old Montreal, so we wandered a few blocks through the narrow streets to revisit Bonsecours.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 27, 2001
Old Montreal/Vieux Montreal
Borough of Ville-Marie
Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3B2