Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis
Additional photos by Manos Angelakis and Tourisme Montréal (Thinkstock)
Montréal Tunes up for 375th Anniversary
Montréal is buzzing with energy gearing up for the Big Event of 2017; the 375th anniversary of the city. Montréalers are justly proud of their city and want to show off its multi-cultural charms to the world… so come one, come all and take advantage of the many indoor and outdoor events planned to enthrall native and visitor, child and adult, alike.
A sampling of planned events for just the first three months of 2017 includes:
Barbegazi: an all-family winter sports festival featuring a giant outdoor obstacle course. For information about the activities, dates and times, visit http://www.barbegazifest.ca/
Igloofest: an outdoor dance party held under the stars at the Old Port on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for a limited time so put on your dancing snow boots and join in the fun. https://igloofest.ca/
Fête des neiges: a free weekend event where zip-lines, tube sliding, sled dog tours, skating and live music set the tone. For information http://www.parcjeandrapeau.com/en/
Montréal en lumière: A cultural and fine food festival featuring feasts for all the senses. This event is held annually and this year should even be more exciting based on the entire city celebrating its anniversary. http://www.montrealenlumiere.com/
And that’s just the scheduled outdoor activities …
In order to make a soufflé you must break some eggs and the city is currently undergoing major construction upheavals all in anticipation of the many planned events. Streets are being enlarged and/or rerouted to help traffic flow better, but beware drivers; there is a traffic speed trap for out-of-country and rental cars on the major artery autoroute 10/20 entering the bridge crossing into the city. The speed limit shifts from a maximum of 100 kil. down to 80 without warning and a police car is there to monitor unsuspecting motorists and hand out a summons with a smile. This is a word of caution because nothing puts a damper on enjoying all that Montréal has to offer like a speeding ticket on entering the city.
But the city does deliver on its promises. Already open to critical acclaim is the brand new Au Sommet Place Ville Marie, a shopping mall with interior food court on the ground floor featuring goodies representative of Montréal’s well-known foodie scene. The tower’s top three floors showcase the hottest restaurant in town Les Enfants Terribles on the 44th; where reservations are a must; the Observation Deck on the 46th floor provides a 360 degree view of the city that is especially awesome at night; and one floor down on the 45th is an interactive Museum #MTLGO that is fun, informative and entertaining for all ages. You could spend hours playing - and learning about the city - on the interactive screens separated by category. Shades of social media, you can even send yourself a text or email for a self-directed “pokemon” type of experience (ask one of the attendants for the “missions” link). http://ausommetpvm.com/en/
Also in place is Cité Mémoire a free mobile map that leads you through a walking tour and performance art scene of Old Montréal were characters are projected on buildings acting out the history of the city. It’s best at night when the projections stand-out but if you are unfamiliar with the winding streets and lanes of the old town, take in the show during the day. Make sure to have your ear-buds with you as a soundtrack is available in 4 languages that activates with the free WiFi hot spots scattered throughout the site. http://www.montrealenhistoires.com/memory_city
Montréal is a city of neighborhoods. Our recent stay was at the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal in the Golden Square Mile. This is the ultra-luxe section of Montréal where high-end designers have their stylish salons and art galleries feature top international artists.
Here too is the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. The museum has recently opened its Modern Arts tower across fashionable Sherbrooke Street from the original Beaux Arts building with underground access to both buildings. Museum entry is through the new building. Check the website for current shows and exhibitions http://www.mbam.qc.ca/en/
Allow time for exploring St. Lawrence or St. Laurent, the city’s main boulevard, which in the day separated the French and English quarters of the city. It was the go-to neutral zone for emigrants not wanting to be seen as “choosing” one side or the other in what was an often contentious relationship. Here the Chinese, Eastern European, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin American and North African emigrants planted roots. Today walking along “the Main” is a cultural and food fantasy experience and with a guided tour you get the history with the fried-baloney (literally). We enjoyed the commentary by JF from Flavours of the Main Culture & Food Walking Tour http://fitzandfollwell.co/
Especially delightful was the story about Wilensky who in 1932 opened a barbershop that quickly became the center for male gatherings of the Jewish emigrants. Of course the men got hungry expending so much energy socializing, so Wilensky started to grill slices of all-beef bologna, slap them on a soft bun with compulsory mustard, as a sign in the store announces, and a must-have tradition was born. Over time, an upscale special version has also become available… a slice of cheese (swiss or cheddar) can now be added to a grilled all-beef salami and/or bologna sandwich, plus pickles on the side… ah the glories of progress! www.wilenskys.com
Cabs are numerous and readily available but the transit system is a rapid, clean and efficient way to get around if you want to experience the city on your own. The metro is clearly marked and the trams navigate above ground covering all areas handily… that is once the construction cones have been removed. Pack your appetite, your sense of adventure, good walking shoes and join the party.
For information visit the Tourisme Montréal website www.tourisme-montreal.org
© January 2017 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.