Montreal has it all; with history, culture, world class dining, shopping, outdoor adventures, art and more, there is something for everyone in this unique Canadian metropolis. Coming from Calgary, where classic art exhibits are few, far in between and always temporary, enjoying beautiful art was on the top of my list of things to see in Montreal. I stumbled across three amazing art exhibits that are only running for a few more weeks. If you are an art lover and heading to Montreal, be sure to add the Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel exhibition and The Aztecs, People of the Sun exhibit at the Pointe-à-Callière to your travel checklist.
I couldn’t have planned the timing of our visit any better to coincide with the temporary exhibit of Rodin’s works in Montreal. Featuring over 300 works from public and private collections, the Rodin exhibition in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the largest collection of Rodin art ever showcased in Canada and it’s the first time in North America for many of these masterpieces. Over half the pieces on display are on loan from The Rodin Museum in Paris which is currently undergoing renovations. Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio ends October 18th, 2015. www.mbam.qc.ca
Michaelangelo’s stunning ceiling frescoes are normally viewed from nearly 70 feet inside the Sistine Chapel. At the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, his works on display are the life-size reproductions and are almost within arm’s reach. These reproductions were created with the use state of the art technology that captured the look, size and the feel of the original frescoes in licensed photographs. This exhibit is a great opportunity to get a unique and close up view of all 33 frescoes plus The Last Judgement. Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel exhibition closes October 15th, 2015. www.chapelsistine.com
If you’re an archaeology and history buff, you have to visit Pointe-à-Callière in Old Montreal. Pointe-à-Callière is an archaeological site where you can step below street level for an underground tour and explore the original foundations of the city and learn about how Montreal began. Multi-media demonstrations and a hands on activity centre is a big hit with kids. Currently Pointe-à-Callière is hosting The Aztec, People of the Sun exhibit. Over 260 items are on loan from 16 Mexican museums for this exhibition. The Aztec, People of the Sun exhibition closes October 25th, 2015. www.pacmusee.qc.ca/en/about-pointe-a-calliere
Where to stay:
The perfect blend of budget and comfort, the Hotel de L’Institut is an amazing gem in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Only 42 rooms in this expansive centre, Hotel de L’Institut is a training facility for future chefs and hoteliers. Stays include a cold buffet breakfast in the morning including granola, fresh fruit, smoked salmon and charcuterie. My husband vouches that they had the most comfortable mattress of any hotel he’s ever stayed in. www.ithq.qc.ca/en/hotel
If you wander along Rue St Jacques in Old Montreal you might bump into a looming Botero sculpture just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. Or a Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture. These impressive works of art are part of a private art collection housed at LHotel, a boutique hotel owned by Guess founder, Georges Marciano. Guests staying at the hotel can enjoy nearly 250 pieces of art of Marciano’s private collection placed carefully around the hotel and in the guest rooms. www.lhotelmontreal.com
Where to Eat:
This little hipster gem is unlike any restaurant I have been to before. Located in the heart of Chinatown, Orange Rouge offers asian-fusion tapas; dishes meant for sharing. From Siracha peanuts to duck cooked three ways (deep-fried wings, sauteed breast and legs confit) Orange Rouge offers a range of small plates to large platters. My husband and I shared the Wok Kissed greens, Burnt Eggplant and BBQ Pork Ribs. Each dish was delicious, generously portioned and affordable. http://orangerouge.ca
Looking for a place to eat poutine in Montreal is like trying to find coffee in Vancouver – all you need to do is look down the street or turn a corner! Poutine places are everywhere in Montreal. I can’t even vouch for which place is the best, there are too many options to try in a short stint. There aren’t enough BIXI peddling hours in the day to burn off those calories. I did, however, love the poutine and the courtyard patio at Montreal Poutine. Conveniently located close to the museums and exploring we were doing in Old Montreal, we found a sliver of sunshine on their patio on an otherwise chilly day. http://montrealpoutine.ca
Where to get a coffee:
On the corner of Place d’Armes to the right of the Notre Dame Cathedral you’ll find one of the best coffees in Montreal (I drank copious amount of coffee in Montreal so you can trust me on this one). Lattes are served in classic French bistro Duralex glassware commonly used for table wine in Paris. The cafe is two storeys of light and the coffee is perfect. www.tommymontreal.com
How to get around:
BIXI, Montreal’s bikeshare program is my favourite way to get around the city. You can choose to swipe your credit card each time you use a bike, pre-order a BIXI key before you travel or when you arrive, pick up a key at the Berri-UQAM metro station and call their customer service line to assist with set up. It is such a slick system with a superb customer care program. I actually lost my BIXI the first day I arrived and was devastated. I called the customer service line to report my missing key. A few hours later the same agent called me to advise that someone had found my key and gave me her phone number to arrange for pick up. Crisis averted! With over 5000 bikes, 460 docking stations and half the price of public transit, it’s an easy and affordable way to explore Montreal while getting some fresh air and exercise. What better way to burn off that poutine you had for lunch? https://montreal.bixi.com
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