Lafontaine Park in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.
Frank Thomae / PNG
The Plateau Mont-Royal may no longer be Montreal’s “hippest” neighbourhood. That title has passed on to the Mile End. But no neighbourhood typifies Montreal as much as “Le Plateau” — it is still the part of town Montrealers and foreigners (most of them expat Parisians) aspire to live in.It is attractive, liveable, and trendy, a neighbourhood of historical three-storey buildings, swirling staircases, and tree lined streets. It has the city’s most beautiful parks, green spaces where locals sit on blankets, serving up wine while enjoying their picnics (yes, it is legal to drink in public parks as long as you are eating). It is the most European neighbourhood in North America.You’ll find a boulangerie (bakery) serving up baguettes, croissants and pastries, boucheries (butchers) where you’ll find your favourite raw or pre-prepared cuts of meat, and specialty stores where the only things they sell might be cupcakes or macaroons. The Plateau made BYOB (“Bring your own booze”) restaurants famous in Montreal and it is still the place to eat in a fine restaurant with your favourite bottle of wine (see this updated list of Montreal best BYOB restaurants).So where to go on the Plateau Mont-Royal? Here are five areas to explore:1. L’Avenue du Mont Royal (Mont Royal Avenue)This busy avenue is the heart of the Plateau. St. Denis Street to Avenue Lorimier is typical Plateau, trendy, and “French flavoured” with small, specialty stores, cafés and restaurants. Have brunch at L’Avenue (where there’s always a line up), bagels at St. Viateur Bagel & Café (bagels with salmon and cream cheese is a favourite), or go to Premiere Moisson where you can get baguettes, breads, pastries and premade sandwiches. Visit La Maison du Rôti near Lorimier even if it’s only to look – it’s the most impressive meat shop in Montreal. Barracca is a great stop for drinks and tapas and Restaurant les Héritiers is a typical French BYOB (get your wine at the large SAQ on the corner of Mont Royal/Papineau)Going west, Mont Royal Avenue has a different flavour as you approach St. Laurent Boulevard. Here the stores are more eclectic and international. You’ll find little boutiques selling funky clothes and importers offering up African and Asian furniture and accessories. Stop at Bily Kun for cool vibes and craft beer.2. Parc Lafontaine (Lafontaine Park)One of Montreal’s most beautiful parks, home to a large man made lake where locals tan, picnic and walk their dogs. In the winter the lake becomes a large skating rink. The park has public tennis courts, some soccer fields, a baseball diamond, and an enclosed dog park. It’s a vibrant park, even when it’s -20C.
Frank Thomae /
3. Avenue Laurier (Laurier Avenue) and Laurier ParkAvenue Laurier is the smaller sister to Mont Royal Avenue and has a much more neighbourly, less commercial feel. The 7 block stretch between Avenue Christophe Colombe and rue Marquette (“le petit Laurier”) is the highlight. You’ll find the usual boulangeries (go to le fromentier for baguettes, bread, and cheese), boucheries and cafés. Have coffee and cake at Montréal Café or go across the street to Byblos Café for Iranian tea and a light Middle Eastern lunch. A block down, Tri Express has great sushi.Laurier Park is a typical neighbourhood park. Pretty, with playing fields, a dog park and a swimming pool that gets packed in the summer.
Frank Thomae /
4. The prettiest streets on the PlateauThe Plateau is known for its attached, 3 storey buildings adorned with twisting staircases. This is historically a working class neighbourhood and construction of this type was the norm. Another feature of these buildings are backyards facing out to alleys. Today many Plateau alleys have been beautified, with local artists creating installations and painting murals (some companies, like Fitz & Follwell, offer walking and bike tours covering many of the Plateau’s best alleys and street art).Avenue Christophe Colombe is one of the Plateau’s prettiest streets and connects Lafontaine Park to Laurier Park.Duluth Street is an attractive street with the highest concentration of BYOB restaurants in Montreal. Le Jardin de Panos is a favourite.The Plateau also had rich residents. Explore St. Hubert Street south of Mont Royal, and Laval Avenue near Square Saint Louis for some of Montreal’s most beautiful mansions.
Victorian homes, Carre St. Louis (near Avenue Laval).
Frank Thomae /
5. St. Denis Street and St. Laurent BoulevardThese two very large and very commercial streets intersect the Plateau Mont Royal. Both are worth exploring. St. Denis is dominated by a few large retailers, high end restaurants and some outdoor terrasses that are popular in the summer. Bar L’Barouf attracts an older, cosmopolitan crowd. Café Cherrier is a Montreal institution for a drink or meal. St. Laurent is ethnically mixed, younger and cooler, with a lot of small bars and restaurants. Typifying that is Schwartz’s Deli, reputably the best smoked meat in Montreal.***This article was contributed by Frank Thomae and Lissette Hernandez of The Travels of Bbqboy and Spanky. They are full-time travellers and travel bloggers.You might also be interested in …B.C. Travel: 5 ultimate road trips if you have a week offB.C. Travel Bucket List: 7 places you must see in beautiful B.C.3 easy off-season day trips from VancouverBC Travel: 4 trips to get you out of your comfort zoneSolo travel: 5 reasons why this is a growing trendAssiniboine Lodge: Enjoy the majesty of the Canadian RockiesGirlfriend getaways: Weekend trip ideas from B.C. to Saskatchewan10 reasons why the off-season is the best time to go to TofinoArt museum brings Emily Carr, Bill Reid to the slopes in WhistlerStorm watching in style at Tofino’s Wickaninnish InnThree days in Whitehorse: What to do in and around Yukon’s capital cityAlberta travel: 6 unique getaways in Southern AlbertaSafe travel: 5 tips to help you back up your passport, travel documents10 tips on how to pack for your next trip5 cheap travel destinations for 2019