For the perfect getaway to help you recharge your batteries, or simply to benefit from a little zen relaxation, nothing beats le Vieux. Follow this guide for a readymade relaxing trip! In it, we will help you get immersed in this city’s historic charm and find the absolute tranquility of its endearing streets.
On the first morning, find Cafécito, a Cuban-inspired café, for your favorite drink. Order ahead on their website, and it will be ready in 15 minutes; no contact, no line, no stress! If you don’t quite arrive on time, no worries. They will be able to take your order at the counter. Their promise: helping people escape daily life, if only for just a coffee break. Sip it slowly as you walk around; you don’t need to check your watch, you have all the time in the world.
After taking the time you need and dropping off your luggage for this two day itinerary, you can get started on your riverside vacation. Several hotels and spas have teamed up to offer joint deals and pass the savings on to you. If you’ve booked a package with “Scandinave spa and Hotel Gault”, for example, you will want to go west down St-Vincent Street until you reach Saint-Paul Street. At the intersection (smelling lightly of eucalyptus), turn left toward de la Commune and you will see the spa waiting for you there. You will notice the spa’s commitment to providing a calm, silent atmosphere as you walk in. The baths are finally open once more, and massages start early in this tranquil oasis.
Once you’re done with the spa, a trip to the neighbouring establishment, Aloha Espresso bar, is in order. It opens at 11 a.m., and their açai papaya bowls and fresh smoothies are really easy to take with you on the go. The “Buddha Palm” is our go-to for its zen, calming properties, but we also love the gourmet touch of the “Dragon Fly”. If you like the Golden Latte they offer, then we have good news for you! They sell a preparation in-store that you can bring home as a great souvenir from this trip to add to your daily routine.
Go back toward the west, passing in front of Place Royale, and follow it until you get to Place d’Youville for a green paradise hidden in the heart of the city. If you prefer being closer to the river, just across the way, the Grand Quay boasts an immense suspended garden with an amazing view of the skyline, all along the edge of the water.
Head back onto McGill Street, and if you think you’re in the mood for a second bathing suit, don’t skip out on Mimi et August (currently, they require time window reservation in advance for pick up and shopping). Their mix-and-match duo, with all the different pattern and cuts, is so perfect. Do not miss out! As for the gentlemen, the styles of Clusier are a great option.
When you start feeling a little hungry, seek out Boris Bistro. Its shaded terrace is unique and out of the ordinary, the personnel is charming, and its menu is exquisite. From the entrée to the dessert, we love the land-sea-veggie choices that allow you to enjoy a wonderful meal with absolutely no compromises.
A few blocks away, you can borrow a Bixi bike to pedal from Notre-Dame, down Saint-Claude Street all the way to the corner of Berri and de la Commune. The Marguerite-Bourgeoys Historical Site here underwent a full rebranding this winter, and the offerings of this museum have been completely modernized. Interested in a break from our current times? The “Meet Marguerite!” exhibit delves magnificently through 400 years of history. Also, you should take the time to climb the steps of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel lookout for an amazing view over the rooftops and the river, with the angels from up on high.
With no pressing schedule, you can take time to spoil yourself. Le Vieux is the perfect neighbourhood to get some ice cream, and it holds an impressive number of dedicated businesses. From where you are now, the surroundings of Place Jacques-Cartier offer a great many options. For the clever player who thought of bringing their pétanque set, there are fields all down de la Commune to play on. If you would prefer a peaceful terrace to relax at, the one at Perché won’t lead you astray. You can get there by going down the unmistakable ruelle Saint-Amable, just look for its red bougainvillea. Nestled on the 4th floor of de Hotel William Gray, Perché offers an excellent space to stretch out and relax. It is only open during the evenings throughout the week, but opens starting at 11 a.m. on the weekend.
To finish off the evening, there is a plethora of amusing establishments that are worth the voyage. If Mexican sounds good, la Catrina is your destination, or if Indian is on your mind, check out Le 409.
From a more cultural point of view, Centre Phi offers different rooftop concerts. Consult the dates and artists scheduled for a rare musical experience.
Today, as you leave your hotel, drop by L’amour du pain (Maison Pépin) for a slow coffee and croissant breakfast, then wander off to Luna Yoga. They have private or group classes, beginner and advanced, in studio or at the park, the options are almost endless. What is important, however, is to stay aware of your posture, breathe, and live in the present moment, experiencing peace and contentment.
So, did yoga loosen up your appetite? Then Brasserie 701 is your cure. We also love the avocado toast from Tommy. If you’re still in vacation mode though, Le Venice and its peaceful and trendy California vibes welcome you, where you can try their Poké Bowls in a beach bar-themed setting that will make you want to surf. The décor is just as colourful as their dishes, their staff is very friendly, and what’s more, they published a cookbook with their house recipes – a great way to prolong this oh-so-satisfying culinary adventure that you’ll want to keep coming back to.
After your meal, give yourself a moment of indulgence. Ladies, what do you say to a double treatment? Manicure and blow-dry; spa treatment and a style; it’s up to you to pick your personalized services for a moment of relaxation at Atelier Coiffure & Esthétique. Gentlemen, we haven’t forgotten about you! Make an appointment and live the Belgrad experience. This salon serving an exclusively male clientele employs quality techniques and services for the modern man. Including haircuts, beard trims, hand care, and more, they will take care of you from head to toe.
And for boat fans who want to get away without leaving port, Bota Bota is an excellent choice: this urban spa that spans a verdant garden and docked boat offers a circuit of baths, massages, and nail treatments that refine both your look and your well-being. You must plan ahead by reserving a time window for your treatments in order to respect health safety measures, but the rest of your experience will be pure relaxation.
Old Port also offers two other great options for relaxation: first, there is the Clocktower Beach, which boasts free admission, and will give you the opportunity to rest with your two feet in the sand and maybe a good book in hand? Why not! Plus, if it gets really hot, you can take advantage of the showers or the misters they have on site. Then, why not enjoy a tour via pedal boat on the waters of Bonsecours Basin? It is well known that water has a calming effect on most, and ÉcoRécréo's pedal boat renting service will help you take full advantage. Being in the heart of the city, yet on the water, and contemplating the magnificent urban landscapes that surround you will bring you peace and serenity… guaranteed!
Once you’re relaxed and fresh-faced from your pampering, find your way to the enchanted terrace of Jardin Nelson, where Old Montreal’s architecture and nature are in perfect harmony. Sway in time with the live jazz, as you enjoy a drink or a savory dish.
Of course, when we talk about relaxing, we know that different people relax in different ways. So if you feel that you’re a foodie deep at heart, or you really resonate the most when you’re shopping, other trip itineraries are available. Families are also encouraged to check out our trips, we have a whole different program for parents and children to make le Vieux their perfect summer destination.
© Photo Credit 1: Dominic Filion
© Photo Credit 2: Geneviève Giguère
© Photo Credit 3: Bota Bota
© Photo Credit 4: Vieux-Port
© Photo Credit 5: Thibault Caron