Romantic Montreal

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Romantic Montreal
From a late-night stroll on the cobblestone streets of Old-Montreal to the hundreds of candlelit dinner opportunities in French bistros spread across town, Montreal knows no limits when it comes to playing the romance card. C’est l’amour!
By Marie-Eve Vallieres, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Marie-Eve Vallieres
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    Hand-Holding in Le Plateau Mont-Royal
    Le Plateau Mont-Royal is pretty much a living postcard of Montreal’s essence: picturesque, discreet side streets, wood-paneled cafés filled with writers, and tiny restaurants where you cannot help but feel lucky when you manage to score a table. Stroll hand-in-hand through the neighborhood, picking up bits of French in this Francophone community—it only increases the romantic vibe. Attractions like quaint Laval Avenue, Square Saint-Louis, Parc Lafontaine, or the locals-approved restaurants of Avenue du Mont-Royal are all a fine way to spend a romantic afternoon or evening in Montreal.
    Photo by Marie-Eve Vallieres
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    Intimate Dinners in French Bistros
    With such a thriving French expat community, it doesn't come as a surprise that Montreal is home to so many brasseries and bistros helmed by French chefs and sommeliers. Indeed, eating out in a Montreal bistro is the next best thing to actually crossing the pond, considering most menus include staples like perfectly-seasoned tartares, tender duck confit, and fondant au chocolat. Le Plateau Mont-Royal is where most of the authentic eateries are located, from iconic and ever-so-popular L’Express on Saint-Denis Street to the neighborhood gem Les Héritiers on Mont-Royal East. Other favorites include La Salle à Manger, Leméac, Laloux, Brasserie T, and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Pégase.
    Photo by Thomas Sbampato/age fotostock
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    Out on the Town in Montreal’s Top Cocktail Bars
    Montreal is home to a vast selection of drinking options, be it the speakeasy-type Flyjin or the trendy Terrasse Bonsecours, both in Old Montreal. One go-to place for locals is La Distillerie, where cocktails are inventive and change seasonally (try the dessert-like Pudding Chômeur); most are served in a mason jar. A few fancy cocktail bars have opened up in the last few years as well, where experienced mixologists create unique, refined concoctions that are certain to satisfy even the most sophisticated cocktail aficionado. Notable additions are the hip tiki bar Le Mal Nécessaire, art deco Tavern Square Dominion, which dates back to the roaring twenties, and the classy Champagnerie in Old Montreal. Let’s toast to love!
    Photo by Marie-Eve Vallieres
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    Old Montreal the Beautiful
    Old Montreal could fool visitors into believing they've traveled halfway across the world. Cobblestone streets and old, intricately ornate buildings abound (thanks to Montreal’s heritage as a wealthy French fur-trading post), as well as picturesque chapels. Old Montreal is a scenic and romantic area for couples to wander around. Explore the Bonsecours Market, have a meal at Pizzeria Nolana or Verses, and finish up with drinks at Suite 701 or Terrasse Nelligan for a perfect day out. With some landmarks dating back to the the 17th century’s New-France era (Saint-Paul Street and Notre-Dame-du-Bonsecours), cuddly strolls in the New World just don’t get quainter than this, especially when a horse-drawn carriage ride is part of the plan.
    Photo by Philippe Renault/age fotostock
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    Montreal, Museum City
    Montreal was named one of the world's design capitals by UNESCO in 2006, an honor acknowledging just how important arts and culture are to the city. Art-driven couples with a fancy for cultural outings will enjoy the world-class exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the rule-defying works at Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal Contemporary Art Museum), and the envelope-pushing pieces at the gallery DHC/ART. These houses of knowledge and culture perfectly reflect the essence of the city and its history, and offer the thrill of discovering classic or daring pieces of art with your loved one, giving you plenty to talk about over a romantic dinner afterwards.
    Photo courtesy of Jean-François Hamelin/Tourism Québec
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    Relax and Be Pampered
    With the cold weather Montrealers have to endure for a good bit of the year, it is only natural that there would be an ample selection of spas spread throughout the city. Spas are actually quite popular date spots amongst Montrealers, and it's not hard to see why: Most spas offer among their treatments the option of a candle-lit, soothing massage pour deux—a nice way to relax and recharge together. Two of the most popular spas are located in a former bank (Spa Ovarium) and in an old ferryboat docked in the Old Port (Bota Bota), which only adds to the singularity of the already memorable Montreal spa experience. Bota Bota also features Nordic and thermal baths.
    Photo courtesy of André Quenneville/Tourism Québec
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    Bella Italia in Montreal
    Montreal's French-inflected neighborhoods are certainly romantic, but its Little Italy doesn't do a bad job of putting you in the mood for love either. Be it because of the fantastic cappuccino, the lively expats speaking Italian, the Italian bookstores, or the alluring restaurants, Montreal’s Little Italy is as close to Italy as visitors can get in North America. The bastion of the city’s Italian community since the 19th century offers all the staples one would expect to find: bocce parks, family-run trattorias, church frescoes, and tempting aromas (local favorites include La Cornetteria, Café Via Dante, Impasto, and Gema Pizzeria). The Jean-Talon farmers' market is also an excellent place to explore.
    Photo by Marie-Eve Vallieres
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    Romantic Getaways Near Montreal
    Montreal has plenty of places to fan the flames of love, but some couples might enjoy getting away from the action and retiring to the countryside for the weekend. In the Mauricie region, Hôtel Sacacomie, a massive, luxurious log-cabin style property, overlooks one of the province’s largest lakes. It’s also home to a world-class Nordic spa for romantic wellness sessions. L'Hôtel Château-Bromont, in the Eastern Townships, is a romantic mountain escape. Travelers with ample time on their hands should head northeast and experience Le Germain Hôtel Charlevoix, famous for its eco-friendly design and farm-to-table restaurant.
    Photo courtesy of Sébastien Cloutier/Tourism Québec
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    Come Fly with Me
    Some couples will go to great lengths to demonstrate their love—or in this case, great heights. Montreal’s skyline is best seen cocktail in hand at the festive Terrasse Bonsecours. Old Montreal and the Mont-Royal spread out below. A bit further east stands the iconic Olympic Tower, which marks two big points on the romance charts: unobstructed views of the entire city and perfect sunset viewing platform, thanks to a western orientation. Early risers and active couples, on the other hand, might prefer to trek up Mont Royal just in time for sunrise, which seems to align perfectly with the mountains.
    Photo courtesy of Robin Edgar/Tourism Québec