The French have an expression that goes a little something like this, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” Okay, fine maybe it’s Patti Labelle, but it’s an expression I like to toss out to my husband occasionally. We are after all, married, and in love, and we all need a little cootchie coo every once in a while right? The problem is the products of too much loving (kids) can impede your need to get a little more. What do two consenting adults do then when they need a little alone time? They run away from home naturally, and if you’re looking for the right backdrop to make sparks fly, Old Montreal is exactly where you need to be. Here’s why:
Obviously, this is your first requirement for romance in Old Montreal. The St. Paul Hotel runs along McGill St, which is the gateway between Old and New Montreal. From the outside, this hotel is all Old World charm, but the inside is 100% contemporary design. It’s much like Montreal itself really, old and new joined together seamlessly. Or like my husband and I. Shhh, don’t tell him I said that. Ahh, c’est de l’amour.
Okay, you can’t stay in your room forever. Obviously you’ll need to come out to seek sustenance and what better place than Old Montreal?
You simply can not start your day without a trip to Olive & Gourmando. Part of your heart will always stay here after you try some of their amazing fresh pastries. At the corner of Rue Saint-Pierre and Rue Saint Paul you’ll find Marche de LaVillette. This is where you can enjoy the perfect charcuterie platter midday. If drinking good wine, nibbling on good food while listening to French Bistro Music, doesn’t stir your soul, I don’t know what will. Next, let’s talk about the letter B, as is Bonarparte, Barroco and Bocata. These are three can’t miss restaurants, but there are thousands of restaurants to choose from in Montreal and you will need a reservation for every single one of them. I’m not even kidding. Speak to your hotel concierge early for dinner reservations.
From here and ever more, I shall call patios, terrasses. Upon our return from Old Montreal I began asking my husband if he’d like to go sit under the parasol on the terrasse with me. Sounds so much better than sitting under an umbrella on the patio, right? If you visit Old Montreal in the summer months then you simply must stop and enjoy a terrasse with your lover. Best bets are on top of the Hotel Place D’armes, which overlooks the Notre Dame Basilica and the top of the Hotel Nelligan which has views of the old city and the St. Lawrence. For a real treat, don’t miss the terrasse at Jardin Nelson just off Jacques-Cartier Place. Here you’ll find great food, cocktails and a live jazz band.
If you’re looking for a little pampering than you don’t need to walk far. Indulge in Scandinavian thermal therapy and massage at one of the world-famous Scandinave spas. Across the street from that you’ll find the incredibly unique Bota Bota. Built in a luxuriously refurbished barge, Bota Bota sits on the St. Lawrence river.
Remember that May-December relationship I alluded to earlier? By the 1970s Old Montreal had fallen into decay and her beauty was beginning to fade. A group of concerned citizens took charge and began to revitalize the area, turning it into the major tourist attraction you find today. It’s the classic example of the young falling for the old and it’s not hard to see why. Of course, to get the ultimate appreciation you may want to make it a threesome for a short while and have a knowledgeable guide take you through the city.
We spent two hours with a guide and were led to gems we never would have found on our own, like the former Royal Bank of Canada that was built in 1928. Wildly opulent, you can access it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to appreciate the beauty within. You’ll also find a Metropolitan subway entrance direct from Paris. Located in Victoria Square, just outside the old city, this particular portico was designed by French artist Hector Guimard in the Art Nouveau style. From here, walk across the street and enter the World Trade Centre. Inside this modern highrise you’ll find bits of history encapsulated within, like the Ruelles des Fortications which surrounded Old Montreal’s military centre in the 18th century and a stunning statue of Amphitrite, Poseidon’s wife. For a more recent piece of global history, you’ll also find a piece of the Berlin Wall here too.
Once you take leave of your guide the rest of the time is yours. Strolling hand in hand down cobble stone streets it’s hard not to get swept away with the romance of it all. Which will remind you that you have a hotel room waiting for your return. Hubba hubba.
Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup
(eat well, live well and love abundantly)