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Romance, s’il vous plait: Montréal has your romantic getaway covered

DANA DOUGHERTY REINKE, Contributor DANA DOUGHERTY REINKE, Contributor

Explore the narrow cobblestone roads of Old Montréal in Québec and you’ll feel like you’re visiting Old World Europe as you wander among world-class restaurants and quaint shops, as well as many of Montréal’s museums and art galleries.

A calèche on Rue de la Commune in Old Montréal. Photo Credit: Diane Charron/Tourisme Montréal

Or, snuggle up with your sweetie in the back of a calèche . These horse-drawn carriages cost about $50 and the informative driver will take you on a private tour that winds though the streets of Old Montréal; these tours are especially lovely at night when the city’s buildings are lit up.

Chill out. From the street, Scandinave Les Bains (71 de la Commune West) looks like a typical upscale health club, but beyond the locker room you’ll find a unique urban oasis nestled in the heart of Old Montréal. Through a series of relaxing saunas and pools and invigorating cold rinses, this Scandinavian baths experience will relax and rejuvenate your tired tourist bodies. Sit under a warm waterfall with your honey and feel the stress of your life being pounded away by gravity. Top the experience off with a Swedish massage pour deux.

Get the Scandinavian baths experience. Photo Credit: Scandinave Les Bains

Stay in. The romantic Hôtel Nelligan (106 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest) in Old Montréal boasts rooms with fireplaces, exposed brick walls and balconies that overlook the inner atrium or the city skyline. Just steps away from the Old Port and Notre-Dame Basilica, this four-star boutique hotel is also home to award-winning restaurants and an uber-cool rooftop patio in the summer months. One taste of the delicious chocolate croissants and coffee in the morning and you’ll never want to leave.

Discover the neighbourhoods. Take the No. 55 bus from Old Montréal along Rue Saint-Laurent and get off every time you notice that the light posts have changed (in Montréal every neighbourhood has its own unique design). Wander through Little Italy, Chinatown and Outremont as you explore the gourmet chocolate shops and grocers along the way. If the bus isn’t your style, grab a Bixi bike from one of the 405 stations around the city ($12 for 72 hours).

Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mont-Royal. Photo Credit: Nathalie Dumas/Tourisme Montréal

Eat like a king. Housed in an historic inn, Auberge Saint Gabriel (426 Rue Saint-Gabriel) is a funky bar and acclaimed restaurant that specializes in nouveau Québecois fare with a modern twist. The menu changes with the seasons but whatever you choose, you’ll like it!

Eat cheap. St-Viateur Bagel (263 Rue Saint-Viateur Ouest) is a favourite among Montréalers — in fact, if you ask most locals, they’ll say that only these or the bagels from Fairmount Bagels (74 av. Fairmount Ouest) are worth eating at all — hey, they don’t call them Montréal bagels for nothing! Legend has it that at one point the owner contemplated expanding but gave up his plans when he found out that the water in Montréal is so unique, he couldn’t recreate the product anywhere else. These tasty snacks are best devoured while they’re still finger-burning hot!

Marché Jean-Talon in Little Italy. Photo Credit: Stéphan Poulin/Tourisme Montréal

Market to market. Food and romance are joined at the hip, and perhaps that’s why exploring Montréal’s four city-owned markets is such a delight. Sample decadent gourmet cheese and fresh produce while you mingle with locals buying dinner. The biggest market is the Marché Jean-Talon, located in Little Italy (7070 Rue Henri-Julien).

Shop. Located on Montréal’s main shopping street, Simons department store (977 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest) is found only in Québec and has a distinctly European feel. You’ll find a huge variety of on-trend styles here at reasonable prices. The store is famous for its sweaters, and at just $58 for the hippest styles, you’re likely to buy one for you and your sweetie.

Dana, at the Hôtel Nelligan.

Climb a mountain. Venture up Montréal’s favourite mountain and you’ll see the stunning architectural masterpiece that is Saint Joseph’s Oratory. Or, have a sunset picnic in the vast woods of beautiful Parc Mont-Royal. This protected park is home to nature trails and countless outdoor activities — and it offers stunning views of the city.

Dance like no one is watching. Learn to dance like the stars (for free!) at several city parks throughout the summer. Parc Jean-Drapeau offers ballroom dancing classes on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Dana Dougherty Reinke is a freelance writer based in Oakville, Ont., who writes about travel, parenting and health. Check out her blog at www.allinadana.wordpress.com.


Date Added: October 26, 2011 | Comments (0)

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