04 Jun 2024

Time 9 minutes

This Summer, We Move! : Travelling The World Through Old Montreal

This Summer, We Move! : Travelling The World Through Old Montreal

One of the many magical things about the historic district is that it’s not only tourists who get to do the travelling. This summer, we’re all about moving, and whether you live or work in Old Montreal (or are just visiting), the whole world, in all its deliciousness and wonder, is open to you everywhere you turn!

Ancient marvels and lots of fun

The sun may be shining across the old quarter, but there’s no shortage of ways to make things sunnier! If you’re in the mood to jet down south, get ready for a cultural, rhythmic and flavourful trip that’ll make you wonder if you’re still in the city.

First stop: Mexico, 4000 years ago! All summer long, the Pointe-à-Callière Museum invites us on a journey to the very heart and beginnings of the Mesoamerican world with Olmecs and the Civilizations of the Gulf of Mexico. Through a dazzling display of over 300 works and symbolic objects, many of which have never before been seen by the public, visitors are invited to discover the fascinating legacy of the Olmecs, the lesser-known predecessors of the Mayans and Aztecs. An event that promises to be a feast for the eyes as much as the imagination.

Inspired by the exhibition, this year’s edition of Summer on the Pointe, held right outside the museum in the Place Royale, features a host of activities where the cultural and artistic riches of Mexico are yours to experience. Free activities for the whole family, including music and dancing, are ongoing from July 7 to August 18, and be sure to mark the Block Party on June 15 in your calendar. From the get-up-and-move sounds of traditional banda music to designing your very own temporary tattoo with nopal (cactus) ink, this is a party you won’t want to miss.

Sun-drenched deliciousness

¿Tienen hambre? (Hungry?)

Right next to the Place Royale, La Catrina Restaurant offers up delectable Mexican fare using fresh local ingredients, as well as some tastily dangerous signature drinks. Mahi-mahi ceviche, Nordic shrimp cocktail with a Mexican twist, Baja-style fried fish tacos… If you’re having trouble choosing, feel free to order a margarita from their Casamigos Tequila menu for a touch of liquid motivation. We won’t tell.

Sabrosa, another excellent option for authentic Mexican food and other Latin American delights, is a little further away, but not to worry, Bixi has you covered! One of their 11 stands spread out across Old Montreal is perfectly situated on the corner of St. Sulpice and De La Commune, so all you have to do is hop on and get pedalling (at any pace you choose, of course!). Once you arrive, your reward is the likes of birria tacos, salmon tiradito, and – why not – one of their exotic signature cocktails like the Obsession, made with cachaça and passion fruit. Also, did someone say “agave tasting”? Yes, Sabrosa did.

If you’re in the mood for “a taste of the Caribbean in Montreal”, the good people at Kwizinn will happily oblige. With a warm and vibrant atmosphere, Caribbean fusion cuisine featuring such delectables as Haitian accras and griot, as well as amazing cocktails (ever tried a Ti’ Punch?), you’ll be lounging under the swaying palms in your mind the whole time you’re there. To add even more sun to the mix, Kwizinn also features live Cuban music every Sunday night. Havana, here we come!

Speaking of island rhythms, back at the Pointe-à-Callière, local reggae pillars Inus Aso will be soothing everyone’s vibrations on July 18, part of Musical Middays on the Pointe, a great opportunity for a little lunchtime groovin’ thanks to free live performances, Thursdays at noon from July to August.

International waters

Can’t decide which part of the world you want to head to? The river is right there and always a voyage in itself. If you’re looking to just shove off across the water wherever it takes you, le Bateau Mouche is a fantastic option, featuring a variety of cruises to enjoy the Saint Lawrence in style, including picnic cruises starting July 1. Nothing like having a bite while lounging afloat on a welcoming boat.

What would you say to some long-distance travelling through massage, while also on the water? If the answer is yes, Bota Bota Spa, among its many relaxing and invigorating services, offers a selection of “discovery massages” inspired by techniques from around the globe. Shiatsu, Lomi-Lomi, Thai, Californian, let their therapists’ expert hands knead out your troubles as you unwind and drift, far, far away.

Go east!

If you’d like to start your day on the other side of the world, Old Montreal has everything you need. India and its magic is never too far away in the historic district and the wonders of yoga need no introduction. Luna Yoga offers a blissful array of practices with dedicated instructors who will gently guide you on a voyage within, both online and in-studio, morning, day and night.

Another glowing option for rolling out that mat is Riverside Yoga at Clock Tower beach. Every Tuesday evening, all summer long, connect your body and mind as the waves of the Saint Lawrence – one might imagine the Ganges – lap softly and soothingly right there beside you.

For a lunch that will sweep you away to the subcontinent, look no further than Gandhi Restaurant, right across the street from Luna Yoga. This “spice road in Old Montreal” has been a long-standing favourite for visitors and locals alike, proposing a menu that showcases the classics of Indian cuisine. Tandoori, Korma, and fiery Vindaloo, plus an atmosphere as bright as it is inviting; all we can say is enjoy your trip!

A cup of tea in China to digest perhaps? Head east to Ming Tao Xuan on Saint-Sulpice Street, and then find yourself a whole lot further east! Just across from the Notre-Dame Basilica, this slightly hidden shop is an absolute jewel box for select Chinese teas, teaware and objets d’art. In a setting straight out of Imperial China, enjoy quality tea as it’s supposed to be enjoyed (and don’t be surprised if you stay for hours).

Should you want to take your tea in Taiwan, maybe the bubble kind and on the go as you explore the streets while sipping away, Kung Fu Tea is right around the corner. With a truly impressive and colourful selection of refreshing, tea-based liquid treats, these folks really know how to take an already fun drink and make it even more so. Honey-lemon iced tea with aloe vera, taro pudding pearl latte, matcha slush with red bean; rest assured, there’s a style of kung fu here for every taste.

Europe all around

Wherever you go in Old Montreal, whether strolling or riding along the cobblestone streets, that “European feel” is indeed everywhere, and the Notre-Dame Basilica is one of many beloved reasons why. This Gothic Revival masterwork, in part inspired by the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris, is truly on a par with the greatest churches of Europe. In addition to the regular tours on offer, every Wednesday starting June 12, have a seat in the loft by the Casavant Organ and enjoy a breathtaking view of the nave while the basilica’s titular organist, Pierre Grandmaison, fills the majestic air with splendid melodies (tour included).

Where in the world to dine?

Come dinner time, if you’d like to stay in Europe, head right over to Brasserie 701. Housed in the historic walls of the Hôtel Place d’Armes, this establishment evokes the grand Parisian brasseries of yore, with a fresh elegance and a modern twist. On their all-day menu: salade niçoise, escargots on bone marrow, bouillabaisse and, bien sûr, steak frites. At 701, France sings through every bite.

More in the mood for Italian? Again, no need to book a flight, your Bixi is waiting. Make your way to Bevo Bar + Pizzeria on Saint-Vincent Street, a vibrant trattoria featuring fresh homemade pasta, Italian regional specialities and their signature wood-fired “Romapolitan” pizza, a must-try fusion of both Neapolitan and Roman styles. They also offer pizza workshops for those who would like to bring Italy home with their very own hands.

If Asia is your dinner destination instead, a trip to Japan is strongly recommended. At Bloom Sushi, the Japanese culinary arts take plant-based cuisine to elegant, impressive and delicious new heights. In a simple yet refined atmosphere, enjoy original and creative riffs on Japanese classics like “salmon sashimi” made with konjac (a type of root vegetable) and spicy ”crab” made with tofu tartare. As they say here: it’s “the ocean’s favourite sushi”.

How about a voyage to North Africa and the Middle East by way of tapas instead of by plane? Head to the corner of Notre-Dame and Saint-François-Xavier, where you’ll find babacool, a chic oasis for mouthwatering Maghrebi and Levantine delights housed in a beautiful building next to the Old Sulpician Seminary. Mouhamara, shakshouka, Moroccan cigar with lamb, Lebanese kefta, olive chicken… With a Bloody Baba to start things off (babacool’s answer to the Bloody Mary, made with harissa, za’atar and vine leaf) and a lovely labneh parfait for dessert, you won’t believe you didn’t have to pack any luggage.

And now, dear travellers, it’s about that time for a well-deserved and well-mixed little nightcap. Let’s take things full circle back to Mexico with Clandestino, an Old Montreal favourite for its tucked-away, bewitching ambiance, superb and creative cocktails (their “Calsa Verde” has tomatillo in it!), and an impressive choice of premium agave-based spirits that you definitely don’t see every day They even have tequila and mezcal “flights” on offer, in case you’re in the mood for a trip within a trip.¡Salud!

Photos: Sébastien Roy - La Catrina - Bateau Mouche - Luna Yoga - Bloom - Ming Tao Xuan - Sara Megan

NOTA BENE: Your business would fit perfectly here but isn’t mentioned? Don’t hesitate to write to us at info@sdcvieuxmontreal.com, and it would be our pleasure to include it.