As you may have gathered TVG has spent the last four days in Montreal as guests of Canadian Tourism. For Australian’s Canada has always been a destination for skiing but we were promised quite a different experience in two of the country’s most vibrant cities, Montreal and Quebec City.
It came as quite a surprise, that between the two of us we didn’t have a single friend who had visited Montreal, especially when it’s a 45-minute flight from New York City. So why hasn’t anyone visited the ‘European’ city of Canada that is cheaper, friendlier, more vibrant, as aesthetically pleasing and more rewarding than the majority of Europe? Well we hope we can fix that because the city of Montreal is nothing short of excellent.
Montreal is quite a trip from Australia, 14 hours to Vancouver with a further 6 hours after the stop. Luckily we arrived at 5pm so after a few quick drinks and a boogie at some of the cities hippest nightspots jet lag was almost non-existent. We stayed at an interesting boutique hotel named Chez Swann, spacious, friendly, comfortable and situated in the centre of the city.
We spent the four days eating our way around the city and were amazed at the value and quality of the restaurants on offer. Food is outrageously good value with most restaurants offering lunch specials consisting of a bread, entrée and main for around $20. Last night we ate a phenomenal rack of lamb that cost $17, a similar meal in Australia would have been $40-50.
Restaurants source their ingredients from the fresh produce markets spotted around the city transferred daily from farms on the outskirts of the city centre; some no more than a 20min drive. Chefs and citizens deal with the farmer himself and know where over 90% of the food they consume comes from, crazy when you consider how little we know about the food we eat in Australia.
The government plays a huge role in facilitating the cities fresh food delivery, the arts and culture scene as well as regulating the booze prices. They subsidize the rent at the market stands so farmers can keep prices low, they ensure all festivities on public property are free of charge and they own the bottle shops so prices are the same throughout the city. Every suburb has its own sense of community (and lamp posts!) with a mix of commercial and residential dwellings to keep the area vibrant.
To say we were impressed with Montreal is an understatement – we didn’t want to leave. We’ll be covering some of the places we ate and drank over the course of this week. Stay tuned for more while we cruise the beautiful streets of Quebec City before heading to NYC.
Photos captured on Canon 6D