Montreal has long been associated with culture, creativity and a European vibe. The city’s diverse culinary offering, museums, architecture and shopping transport you to a little slice of Europe—without the eight-hour plane ride. With its built-in artistic flair, unmatched by other parts of the country, Montreal does have that famous je ne sais quoi. Checking into the Sofitel Montréal Le Carré Doré was the perfect start to the culture trip. A weekend experience for the senses boasting a combination of fantastic food, art, music and design. Plus, a little dose of relaxation, sightseeing and style to round out the trip.
The weekend started in high gear with an exclusive invitation to La Nuit, a nightlife experience cultivated by Sofitel, and only presented a few times a year for selected milestone events. On this occasion (and making its Canadian debut) we were privy to the 20th Anniversary celebrations of the Sofitel, a hotel that sits on the Golden Mile in the midst of great architecture, the Museum of Fine Arts and a stone’s throw to shopping at Holt Renfrew Olgivy. The evening was a mix of live music, modern theatrical dancers, food, bubbles and an ensemble of the city’s cr ative set. For those with sights set on an upcoming visit to Montreal, Sofitel Le Carré Doré is continuing the celebrations by offering a curated package that includes a night in the Opera Suite, a dinner at their Chef’s Table and a gorgeous helicopter ride of city.
Visiting Canada’s second-largest city can be described as a trifecta of European flair, North American vibrancy and endless possibilities. With its mix of history, food and art, the city is a must-visit for culture vultures looking for a weekend away. From iconic sites like the Old Town where you can visit Notre-Dame Basillica and Gelerie Yves Roche, to climbing Mount Royal for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Make a note of the trendy Mile End neighbourhood and vibrant Latin Quarter, as curating your own unique itinerary is part of the fun. Tip: Seeing Loud Basquiat and Music is the first large-scale multidisciplinary exhibition devoted to the role of music in the work of one of the most innovative artists of the second half of the 20th century. On until February 2023 at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Topping most visitors list of to-dos is indulging in Montreal restaurants. The culinary scene in the city is just as vibrant as its cultural attractions. There really is no wrong turn here, so it’s best to select a few and snag a reservation. From classic French bistros and modern restaurants to bustling food trucks, there’s something here for every kind of palate. Tip: try Le Renoir for French cuisine infused with international flavours and local ingredients. A perfect spot to experience the culinary story of Montreal’s vibrant culture. Also, Marche Jean Talon is a bustling market where you can grab filled croissants from Pâtisserie Saint Martin or maple sugar pie from Les Sucreries De l’Erable.
After seeing the iconic sights and indulging in the ample eats, shopping is next on the list. Montreal offers a mix of top brand names, independent boutiques and bohemian vintage shops. The main strip of Saint Catherine has the hits of the high street like Aritzia and H&M, while Old Montreal has tiny artful boutiques filled with objects and mementos. If you’re after more of the hip independent vibe, drive out to Mile End where the city’s uber-stylish and vintage offerings reside. For department stores, Holt Renfrew and Simons can be found on the main shopping strip Saint Catherine while Canadian fashion designer Marie Saint Pierre has her flagship boutique on Rue de la Montagne. Plus, take a drive out to Atwater and visit Silk Laundry. Then, do some post-retail relaxing at the local outpost of Scandinave Spa in Old Montreal.
The attraction of Montreal to most is its diverse culture and rich history coupled with a cosmopolitan and modern feel. It is as if Europe was swirled into a dynamic Canadian city. From its food and art scene, beautiful architecture and a vibrant nightlife, there is an energy to the city that is hard to miss. Montreal offers an unforgettable experience for those who are looking for an exciting and cultural getaway with a very stylish vibe. —Lauren Walker-Lee