Old Montreal is a neighbourhood frequented by tourists, but equally inhabited by the locals who live, work, and go about their daily routines there.
Do you want to experience the historic neighbourhood like the workers and locals do? We’ve asked many to share their go-to’s and favourite haunts!
Jasmyne L.Langlois, director and owner of the Espace Langlois Art Gallery, has one simple thought to sum up her everyday in Old Montreal: “I feel like I’m on vacation here!” And this sentiment is pretty commonly shared…
The manager of Babacool - which we love for its colourful tapas, ever-perfect and creative cocktails, and its cool ambiance (it’s in the name after all) - gives their preferences:
For coffee: Tommy Café, my neighbour across from the corner of St-François-Xavier and Notre-Dame
For lunch: Venice, a few steps off of St-François-Xavier, for its Californian vibe that I love all year-round (especially for its frosé in summer)
To go out: The Bonsecours Terraces - my friend Andy, the owner, spoils everyone that I send over to him!
Favourite thing about Old Montreal: The architecture! It makes me think of Europe!
The director of Slice and Soda, Vito, and the manager of the Old Montreal location, Nelson, are the minds behind the sweet concept of selling immense slices of pizza made from ultra-fresh ingredients, set to rap from the 1990’s and crafting improbable sodas, and they also give their opinions on their home:
For coffee: Olimpico, for an authentic Italian coffee, and David the barista’s service, of course.
For dinner: Seasalt, a sure value for seafood and fish, only a couple feet from Slice and Soda!
To go out: Nelligan Terrace, “we love bringing our girlfriends here”. And you have to give it up for the magnificent view and the really nice setting, especially at dusk. Enjoy the spectacle of the city lighting up before you!
Rémy and Franck, valets at the Place d’Armes Hotel, not only have their own favourites to share, but also places that they regularly recommend to hotel guests who are there for a couple days, or the day trippers who come in to see the town.
For coffee: Le Petit Dep, with its iconic turquoise storefronts and charming windows loaded with stuff, should be easily recognizable to tourists! In addition to some good coffee, you’ll find the typical convenience store stuff, and of course Montreal items you can buy to celebrate your town, or to take home as a souvenir!
For a meal on a terrace: The terrace at Auberge du Vieux-Montréal, has a great view and a wonderful drink menu for a happy hour set far from the bustle of the street.
For breakfast: Olive et gourmando is an example of a place where waiting in line to get in is well worth it. Depending on the time, there’s usually a crowd whenever you go, and it’s like that for a good reason. Be patient… and treat yourself!
Gourmet eating: Da Emma, 777 de la Commune Street East. Emma is from Sicily and she has been working the ovens since the restaurant opened! She is nearly 80 years old now!
For shopping: Bonsecours Market, with its little boutiques and wonderful architecture is an absolute must-see!
For kids: The pirate ship, probably the installation that makes you want to go back to childhood the most!
Favourite of the summer: the fireworks you can see on de la Commune Street and the Clocktower Beach, of course!
At St-Laurent Market, recently opened in Old Montreal this year, the employees have already gotten the chance to familiarize themselves with the neighbouring businesses around them. Café, food, and culture - Marco, Abby, and Noémie have become great conversationalists on the subject:
For coffee: Marco is a fan of Crew Collective Café, at 360 St-Jacques Street, the erstwhile seat of Banque Royale until 1963, which has retained its original architectural and design elements. It’s a unique and breath-taking view!
For lunch: Le Petit Sao has earned Noémie’s favour: ”it’s good, it’s cute, and the vegetable banh mi is my favourite! They even sell picnic packages!”
For some culture: Centre Phi has caught the attention of Abby; she loves this contemporary art centre known on the international artistic scene for its boldness and its role in the digital arts. It is currently presenting their flagship exhibit on Yayoi Kusama.
What they like about Old Montreal: Working in this neighbourhood reminds you how beautiful the city is and that there’s always something new to discover! This is the foundation of Montreal, this is where everything began, and you can feel the history in every facet of the town!
At Mimi and August, a boutique settled in the must-visit St-Amable Street, a pretty street with striking bougainvillea, Eloïse and Frédérique welcome us with a smile. We’re met with bathing suits designed by the co-owner Camille Forcherio and made from 100% recycled materials, as well as the delicious fragrance rising from their two new candles: “confetti” and “pompelmo”.
For lunch: Lov is one of Éloïse’s favourites, and she admits to having a weakness for their kimchi fries with sesame sauce. Honestly, we can’t blame her…
For lunch or dinner: Frédérique loves Maggie Oakes, a sleek address with none of the extra fluff, and a sure value for your noontime or evening meal, thanks to its diverse menu and carefully-kept premises.
What they like about Old Montreal: In general, our curious clients and tourists are really nice people, and we love welcoming them to our store! Plus, the area is magnificent, especially in summer when it’s lit up and the flowers are in full bloom. The street is bursting with charm and is truly adorable. Working here is a constantly nice surprise!
Sam is the receptionist at Oly Anger Tattoo, a tattoo studio at 9 de la Commune Street that has been open since 2009. Often reputed for their artists’ realistic style, they also have specialists in
blackwork, geometric, old school, neo-traditional, and script styles.
For coffee: “Aloha Espresso, because they really know the favourite coffees of each of our tattoo artists.” And they serve a Hawaiian coffee that’s unique to them, as well as smoothie bowls that are as beautiful as they are good and fresh!
What they like about Old Montreal: The architecture! My brother and I grew up here, and we loved the history this neighbourhood holds within it.
Stéphanie, server at Seasalt, lives and works in le Vieux, and if that’s not love for one’s community then what is? If you drop by to see her, she will be happy to serve her favourite cocktail, and the best-seller: the Yuzu High. It’s served with grilled octopus, because Seasalt is focused around an exceptional menu of seafood, as the name would suggest!
For relaxation: During the warm season, you absolutely need to visit the terraces and RE-LAX
What they like about Old Montreal: The ambiance! In the historic neighbourhood, excepting the main streets and around there, it’s calmer and more zen than downtown. You can feel that there’s really a community here. People living in the neighbourhood makes all the difference.
N.B.: Are you also one of the Gens du Vieux and want to share your favourite daily visits to other addresses in the neighbourhood? Health, sports, pets, grocery, etc.? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to complete this publication with your statements!
1- Geneviève Giguère
2- Tommy Cafe
3- Terrasses Bonsecours