Design Destination: Montreal, Canada

Quebec’s largest city may also be its most artistic; with 4 universities and a vibrant international community, it practically breeds creativity.  Named a UNESCO city of design back in 2006, Montreal continues to prove its relevance to the design community world-wide.  From natural sights – like Mount Royal, the city’s namesake – to an impressive urban landscape, the French-Canadian metropolis offers endless opportunities for exploration and inspiration alike.  And since it reaches sub-zero temperatures for the majority of the winter, now is the time to visit.  Here’s what you can do in 72 hours:

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Stay

Located along Montreal’s historic old port – a major site for the fur trade as early as the 15th century – Auberge du Vieux-Port offers the perfect balance between classical architecture and rustic details. Behind the 19th century façade lay 45 suites, about half of which overlook the Saint-Lawrence River.  You’ll feel like a time traveler as you exit by way of Rue Saint-Paul onto a 300-year-old stretch of cozy cobblestones.  Despite the history deeply engrained in its architecture, the hotel maintains feels lively as ever; visit the building’s trendy rooftop bar, Terrasse sur l’Auberge, to mingle with other guests and enjoy the skyline, or get a table at Taverne Gaspar for delectable fare.

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Eat

It’s no secret that Poutine is a Canadian favorite, especially in Quebec.  The indulgent dish typically involves fries topped with gravy and cheese curds: a staple for college students and Montreal natives alike.  though it’s pretty hard to get wrong, one of the most popular local spots is La Banquise, a classic diner which serves over 30 varieties of poutine.  If that’s not your style, just take a short walk from Hotel Gault to the upscale Garde Manger, where you can order chef Chuck Hughe’s award-winning lobster poutine in a fine dining setting.

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 Visit

Since its foundation in 1860, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has curated an extensive collection that now totals 41,000 works.  This is an absolute must-see; with everything from indigenious artifcacts to contemporary pieces spread across three buildings, the museum provides an exhaustive review of all things art.  Now until August 20 you can see “Partners in Design,” which explores the roles played by Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and Philip Johnson in bringing the Bauhaus to North America.
You could spend an entire day at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, but make sure you save some energy to climb Mount Royal, a steep hill at the heart of the city (behind the McGill campus).  Bring a camera, because you’ll want to remember the spectacular view.
Prepare for the journey up the hill with breakfast or brunch at Olive + Gourmando (or O+G) nearby, where you can choose from delectable plates like the sweet Housemade Ricotta or a “Poached egg on your face” panini.  If you’re looking for something lighter, stop inside Pikolo Espresso Bar on Av du Parc for a simple cup of joe.
Another day, take a a short trip via metro to the Parc Jean-Drapeau, the home of Buckminster Fuller’s famous biosphere – a massive geodesic dome — and its accompanying environmental museum.

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Shop

In the market for chic, functional design for the domestic space?   Look no further than jamais assez on Boulevard Saint-Laurent.  There you’ll find clever ceramic pieces, kitchen tools, furniture, and charming textiles.  If you have an apartment to furnish, continue down Saint-Laurent to Pink&Brown to pick out an Eames or two.
For some window shopping, simply take a stroll down rue Sainte-Catherine – or under it.  Montreal is famous for its “Underground City,” so called because of the below-ground tunnels that connect businesses, apartments, and shops as a defense against the region’s harsh winter.

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Venture Out

Set aside at least one day to visit Mont-Tremblant, home to a number of picturesque lodges like Fairmont Tremblant.  This “ski-in/ski-out” resort has plenty to offer in both summer and winter months; celebrate warmer weather with mountain biking, river rafting, zip-lining, or hiking.  Of course, you can recover from an active day in the spa, Jacuzzi, or one of the many pools.

Lizzie Wright

Lizzie

​Lizzie Wright is an aspiring artist and designer with a passion for the written word. While she works on her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), she spends her (rare) spare time riding around Providence on her trusty Cannondale and drinking lots of coffee. She is especially fascinated by the dichotomy between aesthetic form and function, which has an immense influence on her work. As a lover of the natural world, Lizzie plans to focus on Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies to pursue a more efficient future for design. Read more by visiting her website

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