First, Raja and I want to say that Montréal is a very old point of civilization. The Algonquin, Huron and Iroquois tribal groups variously occupied the area beginning over 8000 BP. Around 1650, French settlers founded the mission / fur trading town of Ville Marie. Friction between settlers and indigenous people subsided (along with the indigenous people) largely around 1700. Thereafter, in spite of British domination after the mid 1700’s, Montréal remained largely allied with French culture. Today French and English are spoken in Montréal, although French is somewhat preferred and Québec-ian separatism means that tourists ought to ask “Is this made in Montreal?” rather than “Is this made in Canada?”
What did Raja do on his weekend? He walked all the way down La rue Saint-Denis (located centrally in Plateau Mont Royal and positively littered with scenic architecture, cafes and boutiques) to the St. Lawrence River and then paraded along the seaway on the Promenade du Vieux-Port. He visited the Museum of Archaeology and History and saw a very fun, interactive exhibit called Pirates, Corsairs and Freebooters which runs until January 3, 2010. And he prowled the underbelly of the seaport in the museum’s underground archaeological excavation exhibits (really great!).
He was invited into a pub-restaurant, Montréal Poutine on Rue Saint-Paul (right near the Museum) serving the delicious, but hardly healthy, poutines- a Montréal dish of French Fries served with various high-cholesterol toppings. Delicious! The restaurant has a beer garden and also serves Quebec’s artisanal beers, Dieu du Ciel and Éphémère- about which we can’t say enough nice things.
While Raja stayed in a friend’s apartment, Montréal has a Marriott Residence Inn located in the glittering downtown on Peel Street that accepts pets. It would be much nicer to stay in the old part of the city near the port in one of Montréal’s many boutique hotels, and it is possible a pet could be negotiated in, especially in the month of November, the slowest tourist month of the year for this festive town.
If any readers have gone or go to Montréal, Raja and I invite you to write back in via the comments to give us some tips from your experiences in Québec.