Shelby and I made a quick trip to Montreal last weekend. Neither of us had ever been to Montreal before, and in fact, it was our first time to Canada. So now we get to check another country off our bucket list! We happened to pick the coldest weekend possible to visit. By the time we landed in Montreal, the temperatures had dropped to -6 degrees Fahrenheit. We decided not to rent a car, and wanted to stay pretty local to Old Montreal, where we were staying, planning to mostly explore on foot.
We flew into Montreal from New York, landing around dinner time, so we checked into our hotel, got settled, and headed back out into the below zero temps in search of something to eat. Luckily, we found a great little pizza place around the corner from our hotel, so we didn’t have to go too far. The theme of this trip was pretty much walk a few blocks, stop in somewhere and eat, walk a few more blocks, pop into another place to eat, ha ha. But we found so many good places! We’re actually going to do a whole separate post on Friday just for where we ate, so I won’t go into much detail on that here. After dinner we walked the radius around our hotel, familiarizing ourselves with the neighborhood.
We stayed at La Saint Sulpice, which was a great location, directly adjacent to the Notre Dame Basilica. All of the rooms are suites and very spacious. Our room had a beautiful view of the snow filled courtyard, a giant bathtub that we took advantage of, and even a fireplace!
The next day we woke up to it lightly snowing, so we ordered room service and had a lazy morning. It was still in the negative degrees outside, and the high temperature for the day was in the single digits, making navigating on foot a brutally cold journey. We might as well have been trying to climb Mt. Everest. We decided not to be too adventurous.
We started our afternoon with a quick tour of the Notre Dame Basilica, then popped into a cafe for a late lunch. Then we walked around a little more, popping into a few shops, before heading back to our hotel to take refuge from the cold.
That night we headed to the Merry Montreal Christmas Market, but it was still so cold and only a handful of booths were even open. We lasted about 5 minutes before heading to dinner where we got to try poutine for the first time! After dinner we headed back to our hotel where we took turns enjoying a warm bath and a cozy night in.
The following day was a little warmer (if you think 18 degrees is warm) but we woke up to some pretty heavy snow. We opted to order room service again for breakfast, and finally ventured out of our hotel room about noon (are you sensing a theme yet?).
We headed out of Old Montreal, with intentions of visiting the Underground City. It was a little hard to find, and once we did we decided we didn’t want to spend much time there. It was essentially an expansive series of malls, all connected through underground tunnels, with all the same stores we have in New York. We decided not to waste our time, instead heading to another Christmas market.
Side note- the New York Times called this tree “ungainly and unloved”. Apparently they were trying to compete with the tree in Rockefeller Center. I think they have a ways to go….
This one was in a pretty busy part of town, and it seemed to be filled with mostly locals. We got to try maple taffy, sample some hot wine, and roast some giant marshmallows as big as our face!
After the market we popped into a local grocery store to pick up a few Canadian snacks. We filmed a video of us trying them for our YouTube channel that will go live soon. We headed back to our hotel to rest and get ready for dinner at Modavie. We’ll go into more detail in our food post, but this was one of our favorite finds this trip!
On our last day we again, ordered room service and had a slow morning getting ready and packing. We checked out of the hotel, had them store our bags, and headed off to explore some more of Old Montreal.
We headed back to the first Christmas market we went to the first day to see if they had more booths open. And they did! We tried and bought some Ice Wine and Ice Cider, and had one last maple taffy- this one we got to roll ourselves!
To make maple taffy, they pour a line of hot maple syrup on snow, let it freeze for about 30 seconds, then take a popsicle stick and roll it up. So simple and so delicious!
After wandering around for a bit, we grabbed a late lunch at Olive and Gourmando, a super cute restaurant and bakery that was filled to the brim with locals (a sign of a good place!).
After lunch, we still had a few hours before we had to head to the airport, so we wondered around a little more, grabbed a cupcake at Les Glaceurs, then headed back to our hotel and snuggled up in the lounge in front of the fire with a couple of cocktails before grabbing our bags and catching a cab back to the airport.
Most places take credit cards, so you don’t have to worry about having cash. We did end up getting a little out from an ATM, because some of the stalls at the Christmas markets we visited only took cash. Some places will take US dollars.
Even though the official langue of Montreal is French, everyone speaks English. Most people would greet us with a dual “Bonjour, Hello”. If we answered back “Bonjour” then they generally assumed we spoke French, and would continue speaking to us in French. We quickly learned that they have no expectation for you to attempt to speak basic French (unlike France).
Montreal doesn’t seem to have any laws about shoveling their sidewalks. Makes it a little challenging to get around by foot.
Everything in the International terminal at the airport seemed to close by 7PM on a Sunday. Still a little puzzled by this. Then increasingly annoyed by it when our flight got delayed and there was nothing we could buy to eat.
Despite the freezing temperatures, we had so much fun exploring the winter wonderland that was Montreal!