Every year, we go to Montreal.Â This is a combination of last year's trip and this year's trip.
Part 2 An Insider's Guide to Montreal: Downtown and West End - 2008
These days, we stay in a neighborhood called The Plateau, which roughly comprises the area north and East of McGill University. We stay in a small but cozy bed and breakfast on Rue Laval E. (Laval Street East), which means it is east of the East-West dividing street, St. Laurent, also called The Main.
As you can see from the photos, Montreal offers a lot of French and European old-world charm not often found in North American cities.
This is a bed and breakfast on the corner of Rue Laval Est and Rue Napoleon. Laval street has several bed and breakfast hotels; they are all part of an established network in Montreal.
This is not our bed and breakfast, but is one similar to where we stay.
Montreal's east end has always been comprised of mostly French neighbhorhoods, with many architectural features you won't find anywhere else.
This is a house on Rue Laval Est. Colorfully painted houses such as this one are very common.
This type of winding staircase is found only on the East End of Montreal. It is one of many unique architectural features Montreal offers. This one is on Rue Laval Est.
And this is a winding staircase with color added to the photograph. Just for fun.
This charming house is located on the corner of Rue Laval Est and Rue Duluth Nord.
It is so refreshing for the tourist or resident to walk among these streets, as they offer a glimpse of a world rarely seen in North America - that of a truly unique world not dominated by sameness and corporate chains.
This house is a few blocks east of Rue Laval Est on Rue Henri Julien Est.
You can see how seriously the Quebecois take their notion of artistry - artistic endeavors are regarded seriously in all aspects of life.
Another gorgeous house from the same neighborhood.
This painting is on the outside of a wall of a nautical shop on Rue St. Denis Est, a few blocks east of Laval street. As we travel a few blocks, you will begin to see more of the old world and French flavor found in Montreal's east end.
A graffitti artist on Napoleon near Rue St. Laurent. Haunting image of a woman.
The painting included a question, (not shown) "Why don't you want me?"
A rendition of the Hindu God Ganesha.Â This is someone's mailbox on Rue Duluth.
Two lovely dancers on Rue Laval Est.
This charming storefront is of a Bohemian market, located on Rue St. Denis Est.
St. Denis a famous for its shops, cafes and nightlife.
This is the Second Cup coffeehouse, a Canadian chain and Leah Christianson's favorite, when she was in Ontario. Yes, Montreal boasts a gazillion outdoor cafes.
This one is on St. Denis street, but most we saw were in Montreal's west end. The coffee house we frequented most often (not Starbucks!) was the Cafe Depot, a 24-hour chain of gourmet coffee, gateaux (cakes) and sandwiches.
Here, the old world architectural charm is combined with contemporary traffic in this storefront on Rue St. Denis East.
This is the pedestrian Mall on Rue Duluth Nord, a street that runs perpendicular to Laval. Duluth is in both the East and West ends of Montreal. This pedestrian mall was begun some years ago and is one of several in Montreal. Few cars are allowed.
The red truck is the Canadian Poste mail truck.Â These pedestrian malls are one of many features that renders Montreal so appealing to tourists.
Continuing our trek in the East End, we are now on Rue St. Laurent Street, the dividing street between East and West ends of Montreal. Rue St. Laurent (St. Laurence Street) is 0 East and 0 West.Â Rue St. Laurent has long been a street with shops from around the world.
Here in La Vieille Europe (Old Europe), customers can buy cheese, chocolate, meats, sausages, soups, coffees, breads from all over Europe. Ghirardelli chocolate is imported to Montreal from San Francisco.
Poles love to buy poppyseed cake and packaged Barsc soups here, as well as Dutch, Swiss, German and Polish chocolate bars.
It is a delight to shop in La Vieille Europe and smell the aroma of freshly ground coffee, top quality chocolate and hear Sarah McLachlan over the sound system. Frequent visitors to this store will hear many languages spoken.
Rue St. Laurent is also the place to buy your Montreal Smoked Meat at Schwartz' deli, a famous deli for many West End Montrealers. Montreal Smoked Meat is the Montreal equivalent of Corned Beef, except that it is smoked, not corned.Â Celine Dion's chain of Nickel Restaurants are a good place to eat Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches.
This is the pedestrian mall on Rue Prince Arthur Est. This mall was the first pedestrian mall in Montreal, begun nearly 30 years ago. Rue Prince Arthur extends from the west end near McGill University to Carre St. Louis, (St. Louis Square), a small park. Many shops and cafes adorn Prince Arthur.
Continuing our trek in the East End, this is the Mazurka Restaurant on Rue Prince Arthur Est. This Polish restaurant has been famous in Montreal for more than 30 years and is staffed entirely of native Poles.
We used to enjoy the cuisine a great deal in years past, but in recent years, we have found the food not as good as we had remembered it.
Nevertheless, the Barsc was excellent.
The society of Polish war veterans in honor of Marshall Pilsudski. This placard was on a building on Rue Prince Arthur Est.
Montreal is home to many resident of Polish descent, like Toronto, Chicago, Buffalo, NY and New York City.
Looking westward from Rue Duluth Nord in the east end, visitors can easily see the cross on Mt Royal, the mountain for which Montreal is named. Jacques Cartier conquered New France for his country in 1535. Originally, Montreal was a trading fort named Hochelaga before being known as Villa Maria, then later incporated as the city of Montreal.
The cross is lit at night with white bulbs. In decades past, the cross was lit with red bulbs during lent. Though sometimes difficult to see in the city center, visitors coming in by car, bus, train or plane can easily see the cross from a great distance.
This charming house is on Rue Laval Est.
Carre St. Louis - St. Louis Square, is a small park on Rue Laval Est and Prince Arthur Nord, in the East End. Poets and would be poets, artistes of all types, young and old, gather here day and night. This was taken at night after we lit sparklers and drank wine.
Years ago, as a would be poet daydreaming about Rimbaud and Baudelaire with long-haired friends, this park held a magical spot in my heart. It still does.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal). The exterior is a replica of the Notre Dame in Paris; the interior yield a glorious display not found in old world Gothic cathedrals. There is no charge for persons attending Mass, but there is a charge to visit and walk around the church.
Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Vieux Montreal, where the late Luciano Pavarotti sang his Notre Dame Christmas Concert, 1978, including O Holy Night.
The armory on Rue Pins Est.
Taken on the West End, from the Summit at Mount Royal, here we are looking East at the Olympic Stadium, 1976, Montreal Olympics. That was an exciting time to be in Montreal, with thousands of tourists worldwide coming into the city. We saw several track and field events at the stadium.Â Oh and yes, Restaurant prices were jacked up for the duration of the Olympics; they never retreated after that.
We have nearly completed a mini tour of the East End. We are now technically West of St. Laurent, on St. Urbain Street, near where Montreal author Mordecai Richler grew up and wrote about his growing up in St. Urban's Horsemen and also in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Moe Wilensky's cafe here was featured in the movie of the same name starring Richard Dreyfuss). This neighborhood then and now is an Orthodox neighborhood of Montreal.
Not far from Moe's is the Original Fairmount Bagel Bakery, where people line up day or night from Montreal, New York or Toronto, to get water-bagels, fresh from an open-flame oven, dipped in water and then covered in sesame seeds. The bagels are bigger, doughier, sweeter - this old world recipe is world famous and uses a flour with more gluten, somewhat like the famous New York Pretzel. The New York Times had a recipe for the Montreal Water Bagel some years back. That is a true honor!
Rounding up our little tour of the East End of Montreal, (part 1) we see the Montreal skyline by daylight. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Montreal skyline at night. A bustling, cosmopolitan city like no other in North America. Montreal is home to more French speakers than anywhere in the world, second only to Paris. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
CopyrightÂ Â© Kathryn Esplin-Oleski 2007 - 2012