Welcome to Montréal – Graduate Student Version

Image: Evolve Tours

Bienvenue à Montréal! As a graduate student living in Montréal for the past six years, I can confirm that this city lives up to its ‘joie de vivre’ mantra. Please do relish in the diversity, splendor, and celebrations Montréal offers – from cuisine and music to lounging in one of the many beautiful parks. Montréal is also a great walking city. So bring your running shoes! The metro and bus system are also efficient and reliable. We’ve provided a transportation guide which offers directions for Montréal’s Metro system. It has been a joy and a privilege to pursue my doctorate in such a vibrant and diverse city. I hope you have a chance to take in some of what Montréal has to offer. After the SSSP conference, I have no doubt that you’ll be planning your return trip to Montréal. Some of the main attractions to check out are:

Les Tam-Tams du Mont Royal: Every Sunday afternoon, cost: free. This free festival takes place on Sundays, near the monument to Sir George-Étienne Cartier and in Mount Royal Park’s surrounding green spaces. A colourful gathering of drummers, dancers, vendors, and their admiring audiences.

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, 1380 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3G 1J5, cost: Ages 31 and up: $15, Ages 13-30: Free. It is Montréal’s largest museum and is amongst the most prominent in Canada. The museum is located on the historic Golden Square Mile stretch of Sherbrooke Street.

McGill University, 845 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3A 0G4, cost: free, McGill’s main campus is situated in downtown Montréal at the foot of Mount Royal.  The community immediately east of University Street and south of Pine Avenue is known as the McGill Ghetto, where a large number of students reside. 

Mount Royal Lookout, cost: Free, The Mont Royal belvedere lookout walk begins at Peel Metro station on the Green line and takes you on a 2 kilometer walk and climb up to the viewpoint which offers spectacular vistas of downtown Montréal. 

Biodome, 4777 Avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montréal, QC H1V 1B3, cost: $20.25, The Montréal Biodome is a facility located at Olympic Park in the Montréal neighbourhood of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve that allows visitors to walk through replicas of four ecosystems found in the Americas.

Mount Royal Cemetery, 1297 Chemin de la Foret, Outremont, QC, H2V 2P9, cost: free. You may ask: ‘Why would I want to visit a cemetery?’ The answer is, established in 1852, it’s a history lesson amongst majestic monuments, obelisks, and statues. The beautiful landscape and grounds management resulted in Mount Royal Cemetery begin designated a National historic site. It is a wonderful place to contemplate and relax.

Clock Tower Beach, 351 Avenue Laurier E, Montréal, QC H2T 1G7, cost: $2, The Old Port of Montréal’s urban beach offers a vacation atmosphere with its fine sand, chairs, parasols and refreshing mist. There is also the bar L’Horloge, where you can meet with friends over a drink and a bite late into the evening. 

Cité Mémoire, every night at the Clock Tower Quay and the Bonsecours Island, Cost: free. Discover two nocturnal scenes from Cité Mémoire in the Old Port. Loosely based on the history of Montréal, first-hand accounts of how the city has evolved over the course of history. With a touch of poetry and playfulness, over twenty scenes are brought to life through words, images, and music. Simply download the free Montréal en Histoires application to enjoy the sights and sounds. 

Stroll the cobble stone streets of old port and discover the plethora of shops, art, food, and drink!

In keeping with Montréal’s French heritage, here are some of the best French and Quebecois restaurants:

L’Express, 3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2W 2M4. An iconic Parisian bistro. Personally, my favourite restaurant in Montréal. 

La Croissanterie Figaro, 5200 Rue Hutchison, Outremont, QC H2V 4B3, An enchanting Parisian café in the lovely Outremont neighbourhood of Montréal.

Brasserie T!, 1425 Rue Jeanne-Mance, Montréal, QC H2X 2J4, Glass-wall space for great charcuterie & bistro classics, plus a patio next to famous fountains.

L’Original, 79 Rue Saint Alexis, Montréal, QC H2Y 2N7, L’Orignal, French for “moose,” serves Québécois farm-to-table game & seafood dishes in a funky & woodsy chalet setting.

A visit to Montréal is not complete until you’ve devoured a poutine—a French-Canadian tradition of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Here are some great spots:

Patati Patata Friterie de Luxe, 4177 Boulevard St-Laurent Montréal, QC H2W, A tiny and charming diner which serves up some of Montréal’s best poutines.

La Banquise, 994 Rue Rachel Est Montréal, QC H2J2J3, Serves twenty-five different kinds of poutine and is open 24 hours. American chef Anthony Bourdain recommended La Banquise as one of his favourite meals in Montréal.

Chez Claudette, 351 Avenue Laurier E, Montréal, QC H2T 1G7, A local favourite for cheesy fry gravy goodness.

Known for its fabulous cafés, here are some of Montréal’s best:

Café Olimpico, 124 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montréal, QC H2T 2L1, Hipster Italian cafe in a 1970s pool-hall setting with TV sports & a patio (popular even in winter). Nestled in the heart of the ever-growing Mile End district, Café Olimpico has undoubtedly been one of Montréal 's best-kept secrets.

Café Santropol, 3990 Rue Saint-Urbain, Montréal, QC H2W 1K2, One of my favourite places in Montréal. This garden oasis serves sandwiches, herbal teas, and coffee.

Humble Lion, 904 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3A 3R8, Right across the street from McGill, this rustic-chic indie cafe turns out a variety of coffee drinks, teas, and hot chocolate, plus pastries.

Café Aunja, 1448 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3G 1K4, A downtown gem near the Modern Art Museum. Cozy basement-level Persian tea and coffee spot offering sweets, art on the walls, and live music.

Crew Collective & Café, 60 Rue Saint-Jacques, Montréal, QC H2Y 2N1, Housed in a 1920s bank, this is one of Montréal’s most beautiful cafés, with 50-foot-high vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, intricate tiling, and marble and bronze galore.

MELK Bar à Café , 1206 Stanley St, Montréal, QC H3B 2S7, Really really great coffee in a quaint yet trendy spot.

Enjoy your stay–happy exploring!

Alissa Mazar, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Sociology, McGill University
Local Arrangements Committee, 2016-2017