It isn’t always possible to pinpoint the exact moment you fall in love with a place (if you are even lucky enough to do so at all).
When it does happen to me, it most often comes in subtle waves. Slowly, a satisfied smile will creep over my face, and I’ll realize that I am utterly content and happy in that particular location, if even for no particular reason.
Other times, I’m smacked with it, such that I can pinpoint the exact time and day that a declaration of sincere affection can be made.
Day 3 on our visit to Montréal, just after 3:00pm, Pete and I strolled along St Catherine’s Street. We had just finished a delicious lunch with great company and were casually wandering with no fixed agenda. Street performers greeted us at nearly every second corner: a tall man in an Oakland Raiders shirt wailed on an electric guitar, softer acoustic sounds welcomed us a little further down the street. An older gentleman glided across the sidewalk, dancing so carefree to the gentle music that I couldn’t help but replicate my smile to his.
I took a quick bite of a mint-chocolate cookie I harbored from the secret bakery near Atwater Market, despite being full to bursting. I looked to my left to see the stunning Christ Church Cathedral rising up out of the concrete sidewalk and the lone woman sat on its steps, intently reading.
That’s when it hit me.
(It might have been the divinity of the cookie, but I swear it was much more than that.)
For day one and two, I had hesitated in making much of an opinion, and weighed all my experiences carefully. Montréal has a lot of hype to live up to, and seeing as I had never been there before (I know, bad Canadian, right?), I felt a lot of pressure myself. But on Day 3, just after 3:00pm, the declaration was made.
Je t’aime Montreal.
I liken it so much to New York – a place where it feels like anybody and everybody could fit in, and where each stroll down the street can be a highly entertaining event. It has all the big city amenities, but with a small, comfortable appeal. The streets are alive at night, they are alive, with every imaginable personality on display.
And the food. Ohhhh, the food. I love Montréal, but dare I say I could never actually live in Montréal, without likely ballooning up to terribly unhealthy proportions.
It has all that and one big plus over New York: typical Canadian politeness we only truly appreciate after having been gone so long.
And so on this very first visit, after touring 34 countries of the world but obviously not seeing enough of my own, I finally stepped into Canada’s most vibrant city and was aptly swept away.
We’ve got lots coming up on the blog to affirm this claim of love, so stay tuned.
Our trip to Montreal was courtesy of Tourism Montréal. As always, all opinions are our own.
Your description of falling in love with a place is perfect! So many times, we’ve been somewhere and just like the proverbial dart from Cupid’s arrow, it has struck me: I was in love with the place. The photo of the woman on the steps is perfect!
It doesn’t actually happen that often either, so many places are just “okay” now that I have so much to compare to – haha! I’m glad that Montreal pulled through for us. 🙂
I’m sooo glad you loved my city. There is indeed a lot of hype to live up to but as always, Montreal doesn’t disappoint, even with shitty weather 😉
Thanks so much for showing us your side of Montreal! 🙂
Can’t wait to hear more! I’ve never been, but have heard amazing things.
I share your love! J’adore Montréal! In the summer, there are times when there really isn’t many better places to be. The parks, the terraces, the nightlife! Argh, I’ve only ten more minutes until 5pm this Friday and I can go outside in the sun and enjoy it all 🙂 Happy you’re enjoying your trip here!
Thank you Charli! I really hope to get back sometime in the winter too, for some of the amazing festivals the city has.
I am so glad to read this b/c my Mom & I will be there in about 3 weeks. We have been to Toronto but this will be our first time in Montreal. We were going to spend a few days in Quebec City but it was going to be too much trouble to change reservations so it will be just Montreal. I keep reading that Quebec City is so much prettier than Montreal and I was starting to think I made the wrong choice for us. However, I am now smiling after reading your blog. Thanks!
Quebec City has a whole different kind of beauty (more on that soon, as we visited both) that is also very worth a visit. But I am sure you and your Mom will enjoy Montreal!
My main memory of Montreal is walking around, lost, and asking someone where the old town was. Turned out, we were standing right in the centre of the old town. In my head, I was like: “Really? They call this old?” I was 16 and it was the first time I’d travelled outside of Europe, so that goes some way to explaining the snark. From everything I hear, I imagine it’s the kind of city I’d love now, so I feel a little foolish saying this. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences there…and having my former first impression reshaped!
I can totally understand that Sam – coming from Europe – *old* is a very relative term! I always find it funny when we travel overseas and stuff that is called *new* is actually older than the country of Canada. I hope you do get back here, I think your adult-self would really enjoy it. 🙂
Despite the rain that day we went for lunch I loved Montreal as well. I missed it before I had even left. Can’t wait to see what else you have on Montreal.
Despite the rain – GAH, that plagued us a good few days on the trip. Excited to see what you have to say too! 🙂
My brother lived in Montréal for many years (he went to university at McGill) and one of my good friends lived there as well, so I’ve had several occasions to visit it. There’s so much to love about it, but I am not sure if I could ever live there, not because of the food (that would just be a bonus!), but because I am pretty sure the winters would kill me. I had considered doing my undergrad at McGill but the winter I went up to visit the campus, I kid you not, there was a weather report on the news that pretty much said that going outside could result in death it was that cold!
Haha – yeah, having grown up in northern Canada myself, I’ve heard those reports before. 🙂 Those are never fun days, but I still would like to try a winter in Montreal myself, just to see it in another season!
I need to go… I’ve heard so many good things about it!
I’m a huge fan of Montreal as well, I try to go at least once a summer.
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Aw true love. 😉 Montreal will always be the place I watched my little brothers (we grew up in Florida) see snow for the first time. I recently got to spend time there, so many years later. It is a beautiful place!
I lived in Montreal for a year, and politics aside, it’s a great city.
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The only time I’ve ever been in Montreal I was 19 and trying to escape the US’s oppressive drinking age… ha!
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Haha! Well, that’s one way to experience the city. 🙂
Montreal offers a unique combination of North American casualness, European sophistication, and old-world charm. This is why I decided to settle here after years of living in Asia and the US. Once you get Montreal under your skin, you will keep coming back 🙂
What a perfect way to describe it Akemi. And I agree with you, it got under out skin – we have to plot our return. 🙂
Love a city that feels like home the moment you arrive. Where anyone can fit in. Nice piece.
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Montreal is on my places to visit list – so I hope when I do get there, I’ll love it as much as you do. But I did have the same ‘falling in love with a city’ experience in Lille, France a couple of months ago.
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I hope you get there, and I hope you feel the love too. 🙂 I’ve only heard of very few accounts of it NOT happening in Montreal, so the odds are on your side.
I’m definitely intrigued by this post. I wanted to visit Montreal for a really long time and it was a huge disappointment for me. My husband and I actually cut our trip short because we weren’t fans at all.
Oh wow JoAnna, I’m very interested to hear why…?
I love reading posts from travellers about the city I left with so many mixed emotions, especially when the reviews are positive. I always feel a little sense of (undeserved) pride, like it’s MY city, somehow, like I made it this way, the way everyone loves it. Or maybe it’s just comforting recognition parading as pride.
Oh Montréal, Je T’aime, but not in winter, alas.
Thanks for the lovely post, look forward to more opinions on this lovely city.
I imagine it does take on a totally different *feel* in winter, and I would love to experience it, but perhaps just for a short while and not the duration!
unfortunately, to experience only part of a Montreal winter is not really to experience a Montreal winter, because what makes is what it is, in part, is its length. But for tourism, it is still a magnificent city, even under a blanket of snow. 🙂
I grew up in far north Canada, so I’m familiar with how awfully long the winters can be! That’s a very good reason for why I ventured south, and will only return for short visits. 🙂
I haven’t been to Montreal in YEARS. I used to ski at Mont Tremblont for 10 years in a row and we used to stay at this gorgeous city.
I CANNOT wait to visit Montreal. Very disappointed that we couldn’t make it this summer but hopefully we’ll be there next year
Haven’t really been to Montreal…was there when I was 4 apparently lol. Would love to visit though!
It will surely look much different to you, all grown up! 🙂
I definitely agree. I felt like Montreal was like NYC, but on a smaller scale. The food was amazing. I definitely did not have a bad meal my entire time there!
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What a great love story! Such a well written ode to the city. I’m tempted to ask what was in the cookie? Love potion!? Having read some of your other posts on your visit i can see why you’re so taken with the city.
It was a mint chocolate cookie, which does happen to be my favourite. So really, so much goodness came together at once. 🙂
I can see why you love Montreal. We spent a few days there last summer during a cross-continent road-trip – heading to the jazz fest, strolling backroads, and enjoying a traditional bagel eatery. It helps that I’m a francophile too. 🙂
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