Sitting here on my last evening in Montreal admiring all the people hanging out on the steps across the street from the MAC (the one museum I missed, just not enough time) and reflecting back on my time here. What have I learnt while visiting Montreal you ask? A few things for sure………….The population here is almost 2.5 times what we have in Vancouver. Try and walk down Saint Catherine’s Street on a Saturday afternoon and you will see what I mean (Robson Street pales in comparison). Old Montreal is like walking down the old cobblestone streets you would only find in Europe. Did I mention the coffee? Every restaurant seems to make a cappuccino that would challenge the Italians. Many coffee shops share retail spaces here. A great example was a cool store I stumbled upon called Espace Pepin. They even design and print in house their own wallpapers that mimic concrete, wood and stone (I see a model home in the near future).
Then there’s the food – maple syrup, bagels, smoked meat and of course the legendary poutine! These staples can be found on nearly every street corner. I don’t think they are many vegetarians here?
But, most of all I would say this city is vibrant, full of energy, exciting, historical, and of course full of culture. Patios spill out on to the streets and are crowded on a warm Monday evening along Saint Denis Street (maybe no one works here?) Buildings that are hundreds of year’s old, magnificent churches, and lots of art galleries and museums. I would highly recommend the MMFA (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). This is actually three buildings in one with an underground passage that connects them all. I only made it through 1.5 buildings before closing time (so allow lots of time). My favourite exhibit was the outdoor public art on display at the Sculpture Garden (free for all to enjoy). This consists of 22 sculptures by local and international artists. The McCord Museum also has a summer outdoor make-shift park called the Urban Jungle, offering passerby’s a picnic area to enjoy their lunch under the blue trees.
Well, all good things must come to an end they say. Unfortunately that includes mini vacations. Wish I could bottle some of this Montreal energy and bring it home with me, as a designer this is one rejuvenating and inspiring place to visit. Have you been? Share your thoughts #area3montreal