The people and places at the heart of Québec’s biggest city
Just as people were beginning to write Montréal off, it’s back: bigger, brighter, and more creative than ever. It’s a city that is forever reinventing itself, with world-renowned festivals and events, an enviable blend of world cultures, and—perhaps the key ingredient—trail-blazing men and women behind a host of bold projects. So come with us on a quick tour of a city that’s back with a bang, a city of happening neighbourhoods and a treasure trove of unique experiences just waiting to be discovered.
Quartier des spectacles
Lights, camera, action!
“Over 80 performance venues, 40-something festivals, 7 public squares, one of Canada’s biggest water fountains, all within one square kilometre downtown: Quartier des spectacles boasts one of the densest, most impressive concentrations of cultural diversity in all of North America,” says Jacques Primeau, chairman of the board. “But what really sets it apart is the Luminous Pathway—the red dots that form a walkway of cultural highlights—the way the buildings are lit up, and the stunning video projections (created by digital arts specialists) on nine building façades across the district,” continues Primeau. The Promenade des artistes will come to life September 5 to November 2 with Megaphone, an interactive tribune that gives Montrealers a soapbox where they can talk about their city. Plus, 21 “sound swings” will be returning in the spring, giving passersby a chance to roll back the years and make music together.
And remember to…
Pick up a book from Librairie Formats. 2, rue Sainte-Catherine Est, local 302
Window shop in The Bay’s “White Space“. 585, rue Sainte-Catherine O.
Eat at Bouillon Bilk. 1595, boulevard Saint-Laurent
Griffintown and Little Burgundy
Contemporary art, bohemian chic
There are plenty of galleries in Griffintown, but the headline act for the visual arts and events (C2-MTL, Montréal Fashion Week) is without doubt Arsenal (2020 Rue William), an 85,000 sq. ft. former shipyard. “Founders Anne-Marie and Pierre Trahan, both collectors of contemporary art, wanted a place where local talent could develop, a place of research, a showcase that would shout about Québec artists from the rooftops, across Canada and beyond,” says manager Jean-François Bélisle. The formula sees guest curators set up projects that bring people together around a theme of their choosing. Meanwhile, Little Burgundy still proudly displays its working-class roots and laid-back attitude, all with one eye on the future. Swept along by the rebirth of Théâtre Corona (2490 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest), Notre-Dame in particular has seen a host of bars and restaurants spring up: Itsi Bitsi (2507), the province’s first cupcake store, an excellent café, Lili & Oli (2515), Joe Beef (2491), Liverpool House (2501), and wine bar Vin Papillon (2519), the latest brainchild of chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan.
And remember to…
Visit Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran. 1892, rue Payette
Breakfast with locals at Café Joe. 3068, rue Saint-Antoine O.
Enjoy the taste of Italy at Nora Gray. 1391, rue Saint-Jacques
Stock up on gourmet products at Alexis le gourmand. 1407, rue Saint-Jacques
History, multimedia, designer clothing
Its age-old stones might be steeped in history, but that doesn’t stop Old Montréal being resolutely avant-garde. Philanthropist Phoebe Greenberg didn’t need telling twice and set up two new performance “institutions” right in among the heritage buildings. “The DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art (451 Rue Saint-Jean) has a completely free lineup of exhibits and things to do. And the PHI Centre (407 Rue Saint-Pierre) is a meeting of cinema, music, and installations,” says Myriam Achard of PHI Group. The PHI Centre occasionally showcases talents from other creative worlds: keep an eye out for top fashion designer Rad Hourani this November. High-end clothing boutiques are popping up all along Rue Saint-Paul Ouest. Underground chic can be had at Reborn (231), Denis Gagnon has a store at 170b, and SSENSE is the place to go for the biggest and best European brands at 90 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest. “I wanted to set up shop in a neighbourhood that was on the up,” says Laura Gurandiano, owner of Cahier d’exercices (369), an exceptional showcase for exclusive collections. “Tourists and locals alike come here to hang out, shop, and eat. Everything about the look and feel of the place is truly unique. It’s really something.”
And remember to...
Chill on the beach at Plage de l’horloge in summer and go ice fishing at the Old Port in winter.
Eat at Olive + Gourmando. 351, rue Saint-Paul Ouest
Enjoy Portuguese cuisine at Helena. 438, rue McGill
Go dancing at Flyjin. 417, rue Saint-Pierre
The art of living, living from art
Eleven years ago, following hot on the heels of Ubisoft, Galerie Simon Blais (5420 Boulevard Saint-Laurent) was one of the first to breathe new life into this part of town. “The building’s extraordinary architecture appealed to me right away,” reveals Simon Blais. “I was looking for somewhere that would attract others, too. Everything was boarded up for blocks around. Today, artists have moved in.” A mainstay of the contemporary art scene, Galerie Simon Blais features a remarkable lineup of events, with masters of modern art rubbing shoulders with African tribal art. A hotbed of talent if ever there was one, the neighbourhood is abuzz with artists’ collectives and studios. Centre Clark and Diagonale (5455 Avenue de Gaspé), Atelier Circulaire (5445 Avenue de Gaspé), Articule (262 Avenue Fairmount Ouest), and Occurrence (5277 Avenue du Parc) are all worth a visit—and will have you coming back for more. Foodies will also be in their element along Fairmount and Saint-Viateur, packed full of cafés, restaurants, and specialty food shops from near and far.
And remember to...
Visit every block of Boulevard Saint-Laurent from Laurier to Bernard Ouest.
For deco and design, there’s Jamais assez (5155), Phil’z 20th Century (5298), and Style Labo (5765).
Then refuel at Hôtel Herman (5171), Lawrence (5201), Azuma (5263), and the Magpie pizzeria (16 Rue Maguire).
Journey to the heart of nature
“With the recent opening of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Space for Life, the umbrella group that runs Montréal’s Botanical Garden, Biodome, and Insectarium, has become the biggest complex of natural science institutions in Canada,” says executive director Charles-Mathieu Brunelle. “Visitors to two shows—Continuum and From the Earth to the Stars—won’t believe their eyes.”
Don’t miss the Gardens of Life at Montréal’s Botanical Garden—for the first time renowned artistic director Danielle Roy will be in charge of the event this fall. And be sure to catch the opening of a new zone (created by Moment Factory) at the Biodome, not to mention the jellyfish pool. Furthermore, a far-reaching program will expand and modernize those institutions, just in time for Montréal’s 375th anniversary in 2017.
Art actuel centre-ville Guide Vieux-Montréal Musées de Montréal ARTVRAMA Urbania
Your Germain Experience in Montréal
The city of Montréal is an ideal forum in which to experience Groupe Germain’s unique hospitality. With its choice location on a quiet street in the heart of downtown, Hôtel Le Germain Montréal is located within walking distance of two very special areas that come alive year round: Quartier des Spectacles, home of live theatre, festivals, and shows; and Griffintown, home of hip restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Or, if you’re exhausted, simply stay indoors and enjoy the comfort and amenities of Hôtel Le Germain Montréal: serene ambiance, complete computer connectivity, goose down duvets, sumptuous towels, and soft feather pillows.