Bonjour, tout le monde! I am writing this post as a newly-minted forty-year-old. Exciting, right!? To celebrate my birthday—and a rare opportunity to take a second vacation in one year—Andrew and I recently traveled to Montreal and Quebec City. As a first-time visitor, I was psyched to get a taste of Europe located only two hours (by air) from Washington, DC.
Our trip was fantastic: superb, sunny weather with high temps in the low 70s (we deliberately left our umbrella at home); a chance for me to flex my French language skills while having English as a safety blanket; a good mix of culture, sightseeing and leisurely meals each day; and no jet lag! Above all, I loved the thrill and happiness of experiencing a brand new place with Andrew. (Cue the corny music.)
Here’s my photo journey of Day One in Montreal:
We took the 10 am flight from Reagan National Airport to Montreal. By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was around 2 pm. We stayed at the elegant and cozy Hotel Nelligan in the historic section of town (Vieux-Montréal).
Starving for lunch, we set out to find the café the front desk had recommended. This is a view of Rue Saint Paul West.
It was hard to believe that a few hours earlier, we were in Arlington, VA. And here we were, strolling along cobblestone streets and inhaling the European vibe.
You can’t help but smile at charming accents like windowsill flower boxes.
Our lunch destination: Olive + Gourmando. It’s a friendly, bustling bakery and sandwich shop.
We were lucky to get seated right away. I had the Cajun chicken sandwich and Andrew went with the veggie option. Both were so flavorful and fresh. We washed it down with some amazing house-made ginger iced tea.
We split a huge chocolate brioche for dessert. (I kinda wish we had ordered two!)
Stomachs full, we were now ready to start exploring the city on foot. This address had the loveliest street number sign.
As we walked along Rue de la Commune in the late afternoon, the sun behind this building lent it a beautiful bluish hue.
Along the Promenade du Vieux-Port, I liked the contrast of this rusty tower next to a gleaming cruise ship.
This cherry tree reminded me of hand gestures.
Andrew observing the filming of a TV show.
I went nuts over this old warehouse along the promenade—something about the faded colors and geometric shapes.
Seeing the warehouse up close: the weathered maple leaf served as a fitting backdrop.
We walked to the Clocktower Quay (Quai de l’Horloge). How gorgeous is this cloudless sky?!
View from the quay towards Jacques-Cartier Bridge.
I’m pretty sure the city must have trucked in tons of sand to create makeshift beaches over the summer (à la “Paris Plage”).
These beach chairs in storage looked like a jumble of interlocking game pieces.
Making our way towards Rue Saint Paul East, we came across the intriguing façade of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum.
The majestic Bonsecours Market at dusk.
On a sidenote, the Yelp and Google Maps apps were a godsend throughout our trip. And buying an international data plan before leaving the U.S. helped us limit screen time and digital distractions. (By the way, can you please interpret the yellow sign above my head?)
Street performers at Place Jacques-Cartier.
Swooning over hanging flower pots.
A slice of life on Rue le Royer near our hotel. Later on, we ate some yummy slices at BEVO Pizzeria.
Before turning in, we walked to Notre Dame Basilica. They know how to light up the night.
Ornate street lamps in front of the Basilica.
All smiles in front of the Maisonneuve Monument at Place d’Armes which faces the Basilica.
Hotel Nelligan | 106 Saint Paul Street West | Montreal, Quebec | H2Y 1Z3 | Canada | 877.788.2040 | hotelnelligan.com | Trip Advisor review
Olive + Gourmando | 351 Saint Paul Street West | Montreal, Quebec | H2Y 2A7 | Canada | 514.350.1083 | oliveetgourmando.com | Yelp review
BEVO Bar + Pizzeria | 410 Saint Vincent Street | Montreal, Quebec | H2Y 3A6 | Canada | 514.861.5039 | bevopizza.com | Yelp review
Coming up next: Downtown and Mount Royal Park!