Montreal #2

I had started to write an actual narrative blog post, but figured, hey, it’s Friday afternoon, let’s do some Montreal-related lists instead. Here we go!

Places I like:

Cafe Resonance: The image of a freelancer working happily in a coffee shop is a myth. More likely, they’re stressed about getting a seat with an outlet and starving because of the cafe food consists of greasy paninis or stale pastry, all of it overpriced. It’s why I don’t like to work in most coffeeshops, unless I’m doing some easy work. But Cafe Resonance, on Park Ave. in the Mile End (I think?), is the best coffee shop for writing I’ve ever encountered. They have a power strip plugged into every outlets so you seating is bountiful. The coffee is good (granted, my standards aren’t the highest), they have a menu of all-vegan sandwiches, rice bowls and smoothies for cheap and there’s live music every night,  for a suggested donation.

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Cheval Blanc and Vices & Versa: These are my two favorite beer bars so far. (I wrote about seven of them here.) I’m working on becoming a regular at Cheval Blanc since it’s down the street and chill as heck. The beer is simple (porter, session IPA, blonde, etc.) but solid and it’s got this great retro relaxed vibe where I never feel uncomfortable going alone with a book. Vices & Versa in Little Italy is great for casual day drinking and live music a few nights a week. They have the best selection of Quebec beer on draft in the city and the staff is freakishly nice. I’m probably going to go there in an hour or so.

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Dollarama: The first time I went here I was the last person in the store, apparently well after closing time. It’s impossible to leave. I feel like every aisle has something else I need, and cheaper than anywhere else. The majority of the decor in my room is from Dollarama. Maybe I just didn’t go to as many dollar stores in the States, but this feels like a higher caliber of dollar store. I love it. That’s not sad at all, alright?

Got these jars at Dollarama.

Got these jars at Dollarama. And the vase and flowers in the background too.

Depanneur Peluso: Beer is sold at depanneurs, the Quebec bodega. Some, like the one across the street from my apartment, have a terrible selection. Others, like Peluso have a huge selection of Quebec beer and glassware and other goodies too. I had to buy beer here last Sunday before 10 a.m. and they seemed a little concerned, so that was nice.

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Various Food Markets: I like getting to know a city’s “food scene” through its grocery stores, maybe even more so than its restaurants (because I can’t afford to eat out much anyway). I end up at Supermarche PA on Park a lot because it’s close to Resonance–it’s a pretty standard packed, small market with pretty good prices. The Kim Phat Asian market in Cotes-des-Neiges is delightful and my favorite is probably Segal’s on Saint-Laurent, which has a ton of organic/vegan stuff for cheap. Also, all the little fruiteries around the city.

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Various Parks: Parc La Fontaine is the closest to my apartment, and so dreamy in the morning. The Botanical Gardens across from the Olympic Park feel like another world and are great for long runs. And while not technically a park, Mont Royal is still the best place for a Sunday afternoon walk.

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Grande Bibliotheque: Places with books are my happy place, and this huge modern library is less than five minutes from my apartment. It’s bright and spacious and they have a huge selection of magazines to browse for when I can’t distract myself from work with social media any more.

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People who I wish I could have communicated in French with better:

–the hairdresser who cut my hair

–the security guard at the library who ran over in the middle of the cafe to return a tampon I had dropped

–every person who I know is asking if this seat is taken but I can’t tell if they are asking “Is anyone sitting here?” Or “Can I borrow this chair?” and thus can’t tell if I should answer yes or no. I usually say non, make a flurry of hand gestures, and push it toward them.

–the guy at the bakery I go to on Saint-Denis. I always start in French and then he can’t understand me so I switch to English and somewhere along the way my order is  messed up and I have to go back to get the missing coffee or croissant and the whole process starts again.

One question:

I have never seen so many phone booths, or people using phone booths, than I have in Montreal. What gives? Maybe because Montreal is home to Bell? Am I just more aware of it up here?

Look, here are the phone booths I passed on the walk home from a bar the other night:

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Here is one inside the bar I was at.

Three on a side street. Just a block down there were two more.

Three on a side street. Just a block down there were two more.

The one at the end of my street that I see people using every other day, at least.

The one at the end of my street that I see people using every other day, at least.

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8 comments

  1. I’m with you on the chair thing. I’ve had enough practice though that I can now come up with “C’est libre.” when I need it. I would say it ends up being the correct response about 80% of the time. Just once someone was asking if I enjoyed my sandwich, so “It’s free.” was a bit confusing.

  2. phone booths = mob, duh!

  3. Jeanne Worrick · · Reply

    You make me want to come back to Montreal!

  4. Le Cheval Blanc: A great place to be a regular. Here’s to setting goals!

  5. You don’t wanna know about our phonebooths.
    I live close to V&V and it’s indeed a nice place to hang out. Though it does have more of an English-speaking clientele than people might assume, there’s a lot of regulars there who could lengthen your list of people with whom you wish you could communicate in French.
    There’s plenty of good beer deps, now. Some don’t store the beers very well and there’s a lot we can’t get in Quebec (don’t get a beergeek started on the topic of the SAQ). But it’s become rather easy to get a more than decent selection of Quebec craft beers.
    Resonance is indeed in the Mile-End (goes all the way to Bernard). It’s part of a recent wave of Third Wave cafés, in town. The owners care a lot about the artists they pick for shows and the quality of the music played there is quite impressive.

    1. Thanks for the tips and confirmations! I’ve heard a fair share of griping about the SAQ already, understandably. I do appreciate the abundance of Orval at least.

  6. Intersting blog post, I love the libary it looks amazing.

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