After spending years living in downtown Montreal, we have lived in a few of the neighbourhoods surrounding the downtown area. These different neighbourhoods are all quite convenient for pedestrians, with many unique boutiques, bars and restaurants to offer. Rents are affordable all over the downtown core, which is why there are so many students lining the streets. We have found that the following areas are some great, centrally located places to live:
1.) Plateau – Historic Victorian buildings linethe slim streets of the plateau, making you feel as though your walking down a quaint street in Europe. Not the best access to public transit, more of a family friendly type of area. Great for French people, not many English folk around this area.
2.) Old Port – The ritzy part of downtown, and also the most expensive. You have access to waterfront properties and public parks, four star restaurants, hotels and of course some of the best nightlife in town! Great area to walk about on a warm Sunday, lots of sightseeing to be had! :)
3.) Concordia Area – Concordia University’s student district, packed full of shopping, cafes, walking distance to all the downtown malls and easy access to the metro. This is where you will find towering apartment buildings mixed in between three-storey historical buildings. Affordable housing is freely available in this area and so are grocery stores, pharmacies and anything else you could need on a day-to-day basis.
4.) McGill Ghetto – McGill Universities student district. This is a very safe area of Montreal, there are plenty of students walking around at all hours of the night and day. You can also benefit from Complexe La Cite’s underground mall, containing everything from a Pharmacy, to a grocery store, to a movie theatre to the SAQ, and much more.
Happy House Hunting! :-)
Things to Do in Montreal: Wintertime Edition!
Now, contrary to popular belief, we Canadian’s do not live in Igloos. Yes. We actually have houses with heat that tend to give us cabin fever in the most desolate of winter’s months. To satisfy a longing for adventure, Montreal has delivered a true gem.
Igloofest has been growing steadily since it was first introduced on the scene a few years ago. What started out as a simple party in the snowy park, has turned into an international attraction that attracts herds of people by the thousands. Nothing says winter wonderland like hot cocoa with Bailie’s, ice sculptures, electronica and good company.
Hosted in the picturesque Old-Port of Montreal, this event is also affordable, with pre-sale tickets at $15.00 a piece available on their website. This is another event you might want to show up early for, especially if there is a big-time DJ spinning that night. Aim for an 8:00-8:30 pm arrival time and you should be good ;)
Things to Do in Montreal | Nightlife 101: Bal en Blanc
When we first moved to Montreal seven years ago, we went to Bal en Blanc for the first time, and then every year after that for 4 in a row :P. Bal en Blanc, or otherwise known as the white party, was at one point Montreal’s largest tourist attraction. This party used to attract 25,000+ people from all over the world. Nowadays that number is more like 5000-10,000. Hotels would be booked, cabs nowhere to be found and white outfits sold out on the Easter Sunday this party is held on every year.
Even with it being March right now, the shops lining the streets of St. Catherine have all white window displays, advertising the upcomming white party that’s right around the corner. Good luck finding your size if you arrive from out of town last minute and need something white to wear..It’s definitely best to sort out your outfit arrangements in advance.
This year is the 19th edition, featuring the likes of EDM elites such as Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Burren, Calin Harris & David Guetta to name just a few. Tickets can set you back a pretty penny at $175+ each, but well worth the expense. You can order alcoholic drinks until 3:00 am and regular beverages until noon the following day. The line up is out the door, hundreds of people long every single year. If you don’t know somebody at the door, it’s really important to get there at like 7 o’clock, no joke! Oh, and don’t forget your dancing shoes! ;)
Things to Do in Montreal | Nightlife 101: New City Gas
It’s been months since we have written a post! Since there has been a lack of new info being provided here over the past few months, we wanted to provide a few nightlife updates.
First things first, let’s get real; Montreal’s nightlife scene has died down a tad over the past few years. Many cross their fingers in hopes of a magical re-ignition of the fire from the old days, but it’s just not the same. You could blame the slow decline on the fact that too many business owners left for Ontario years ago due to Quebec’s harsh language laws. Many of the clubs left for Ontario where the laws are more lenient.
Now, more than ever, it is important to know which venues the locals frequent, because it’s not going to be the same place the hotel concierge tells you to go. Among the last of the large clubs, is New City Gas, our favourite venue these days. The place is massive, an old warehouse near downtown, that has been converted into a modern maze of rooms. Black chandeliers hang from the cement ceilings, red spot-lights shining on the wallpaper covered walls. On any given night of the week, New City Gas is bumping, attracting a regular crowd of flashy, beautiful people.
House-heads will be in heaven, as there is no hip hop here. You can rest assured that you will be dancing the night away with thousands of other party-going patrons, to the best electronica in town. Most events require tickets, that can be purchased directly off their website -> http://newcitygas.com. It’s important to get their early, even if you are on guest list, because line-ups start around 11PM.
The city of Montreal has so much to offer its’ residents. Our Locals Only blog strives to show all the various and intricate facets of the city. Being Ontario natives, we know the advantages of living here versus the neighbouring province where Canada’s capital lies, because we had to weigh them ourselves, once upon a time! Montreal is a city designed with the young people’s interests in mind, so if you’re between the ages 18-35, this just may be the city for you! Below, we outline some of the top reasons to move to Montreal, whether it be for school, for work or for leisure:
1.) The cost of living for one thing is much lower than in Ontario. Of course, this difference in cost has the potential to even itself out with the payscale offered by Quebec employers.One really good point to mention is the thousands of dollars you save when you don’t have a car. Yes. That’s right: good old fashioned walking is really the best way to get around! ;)
2.) The culture is unmatched when compared to any other Canadian city. You can only compare the cobblestone pathways, boutiques and lifestyle to that of Europe. This city is often cited as one that makes you feel like your not in Canada anymore. Right down to the attitude of the people who live here: we work to live, not the other way around.
3.) There are more creative opportunities in Montreal than most other cities in Canada due to the cultural influence, which attracts the artists. This means there are many opportunities to pursue acting, modelling and musical endeavours. Plus, there’s tons of internet gigs in Montreal if you’re looking in the right places.
4.) There’s TONS of young people living in downtown Montreal, mainly due to the prestigious universities; McGill, Concordia & John Molson School of business, all of which are located smack dab in the centre of all the action. The international fashion school LaSalle College also attracts thousands of newcomers every semester, further enhancing the cultural experiences Montreal has to offer. These people are always coming and going, bringing the city excitement year round.
5.) TONS of young people means LOTS of nightlife, which is certainly the case in Montreal. There’s no shortage here; TONS of Nightclubs, Supperclubs, Lounges & Afterhours. Not to mention all of the big time DJ’s who visit the city on a regular basis to spin at mega-events.
6.) Easy & eco-friendly transportation options– It’s really easy to get around the downtown core without a vehicle. Montreal is very biker-friendly, has a great metro system and if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can walk pretty much everywhere downtown. Most people live in the downtown core, but if you’re thinking of a cheaper rent, you can always check out neighbouring areas, like NDG or the Plateau, which still offer easy and affordable transportation services.
7.) Lots of great festivals no matter the season. Summertime? Jazz Fest. Wintertime? Igloofest. Trust us, there’s no shortage of things to do in Montreal, or people to see. The streets are always busy, packed full of thousands of shoppers, tourists and locals regardless of the time of day, so you will never feel lonely like you would in a small town!
Looking for the best hotels in Montreal? You’ve come to the right place! Even us locals like to get a nice hotel from time to time. This way, we too get to enjoy the spectacular views from rooftop swimming pools. Here’s three of the best hotels in terms of location, proximity, convenience and of course the amenities. Let’s just assume you’re coming to Montreal and your thinking is to go big or to go home. Here’s the Locals Only list for the best hotels Montreal has to offer:
1.) Hilton Bonaventure– Old Port of Montreal – This fantastic hotel offers pretty decent rooms with the softest bedsheets ever. Their rooftop garden complete with a swimming pool, tanning dock, restaurant and bar is by far one of the nicest oasis’s in town. Not staying at the Hilton? No problem, $20 bucks a day and this rooftop garden sanctuary is all yours!
2.) The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth – Downtown Montreal – Smack dab in the middle of all the downtown action, you can easily access all the food and shopping Montreal’s centre has to offer via the underground tunnels running out of the hotel. Walking distance to all the shops on St. Catherine and the historical landmarks in the Old Port of Montreal.
3.) Delta – Old Port of Montreal – This fantastic hotel towers over downtown and so does it’s rotating restaurant. They serve a great buffet complete with chocolate fondue and fresh strawberries. If you time it just right, like Wednesday or Saturday evenings in the summer, around 9-10pm, you can get lucky and the rotating restaurant some 30 stories high will spin just right, offering you a view of the fireworks @ dinner-time, great for a romantic evening! ;)
Street Art. That is what this is called. Lining the streets of Montreal are various works of art by both local and travelling graffiti specialists. In certain areas of Montreal, there are designated walls specifically for the artists and seeing it live is likely to stop you dead in your tracks! Take a tour around the St. Denis area for some of the best of the best. This area is easily accessible, nestled safely in the lower plateau, just a cobble-stone’s throw away from the centre of downtown Montreal.
This beautiful area offers TONS of bars, restaurants, cafes and of course, it wouldn’t be Montreal without the shopping! You can check out some little furniture shops, then stop for a drink at any one of the great bars, although we would personally suggest St. Sulpice. There’s also plenty of little Montreal-style boutiques where you can find lots of unique clothing and accessories that are hard to find anywhere else.
You can finish off your St Denis stroll a stop at what is officially dubbed one of the nicest parks on the island, Parc La Fountain. With it’s huge fountain and cobblestone trails it’s the perfect combination of a bountiful oasis in an urban setting. Just off the Parc, is the cobblestone Prince Arthur walkway, not as busy as it used to be due to the failing economy, but still worth visiting. There are some fantastic little restaurants around the area, which is adjacent to boulevard St. Laurent and many high end supper clubs.