Fall Getaway: Montreal

October 29, 2010
by Sarah Amandolare
November in Montreal is made for festivals and meandering city strolls. Stop along the way for flaky pastries and steaming cups of coffee at streetside cafes, enjoy a film festival or free museum exhibit, and dine on regional cuisine in a relaxed neighborhood restaurant. This week, we highlight Montreal’s distinctly autumnal opportunities.

For Free in Montreal

Montreal’s rich atmosphere, enhanced by stately architecture and decadent French-inspired cuisine, does not have to be expensive. National Geographic Traveler describes free activities in Montreal, a city possessing “the perfect combination of modern and historic” attractions. Try the permanent collection at the Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, which displays a variety of items, including European art from the Middle Ages, Buddhist sculpture, and Canadian decorative art that “captures the country’s history.” Another free option is the Musee de Lachine outdoor museum, where sculptures line walking and biking trails extending along St. Louis Lake and Lachine Canal.

Meet Montreal

Watch a two-minute video from Montreal official tourism showing the city’s active downtown area and Old Montreal, as well as family activities, leafy residential neighborhoods, parks and expansive panoramic views from above. Explore the “Discover” section of the Web site for seasonal activities, including a Lighting Tour of Old Montreal and a trip to the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal’s Little Italy section.

Be aware that Tuesday, Nov. 11, is Remembrance Day, on which banks and government offices in Montreal and throughout Quebec will be closed. Call restaurants and shops in advance to make sure they’ll be operating.

Autumn Festivals

Montreal is a hub of activity, even when the cooler November weather rolls in.

Chocolate reigns in early November at Salon Passion Chocolat, a festival in downtown Montreal celebrating the dark confection. Join chocolate makers from Quebec and beyond, and taste the results as they compete for the title of “Best Chocolate Maker in Canada.”

French cinema is showcased at the Cinemania Film Festival from Nov. 4–14. Consult the calendar for daily schedules.

Local Eats

Cuisine is one of Montreal’s biggest selling points. Local restaurants play off of the city’s French roots, while bakeries are renowned for classic items like croissants and bagels, which many say are better than New York’s.

Food and Wine magazine named Montreal one of the 20 Best Food Cities, for having a combination of traditional bakeries—Le Fromenteir is a favorite—neighborhood cheese and smoked meat purveyors, casual dining establishments and the upscale Toque.

Get a glimpse of Montreal’s sweet treats in the blog A Passion for Food. Enticing written entries explain the blogger’s culinary journey to Montreal’s finest bakeries, while photographs reveal each item she tasted, including golden brown palmiers, a lemon cake resembling a small pillow, kouign amann glistening with butter, and a flaky croissant topped with sliced almonds.

For heartier fare, The New York Times recommends several local eateries with phenomenal regional food and relaxed atmospheres. At Au Pied De Cochon, try foie gras on almost anything—French fries or pizza, for example. Or, warm up by the fireplace at Garde Manger, a restaurant known for seafood platters, set near the St. Lawrence River in the old town, Vieux-Montreal.

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