Sq Km Rome Montreal First Frame

Montreal's hippest neighbourhood

Le Plateau

Montreal's hippest neighbourhood

It is a mixture of artists, families, students and hipsters. The inspiring and stimulating neighbourhood of Le Plateau with its Victorian houses and whimsical street art, is an area that travellers absolutely must visit. It’s the perfect place to experience the city's quintessential laid-back je ne sais quoi lifestyle, which resonates in everything you see.

Discover Le Plateau
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Victorian gables and wrought-iron spiral stairs

Ask any local in Montreal about his or her favourite spot in the city and they are very likely to say it is somewhere in Le Plateau. The full name of the neighbourhood is Le Plateau Mont-Royal. The extensive Saint Laurent Boulevard is the area's bustling lifeline, neighbouring on the impressive Mont-Royal hill. The street scene is defined by Victorian gables and wrought-iron spiral stairs, lovely squares and dozens of shops and cafés. Also part of Le Plateau is The Mile End, an area that marches to its own beat. This hip enclave lies just north of Mont-Royal. We went ahead and picked out the best spots to visit.

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Café Falco

Slow coffee in a loft setting

Montreal's coffee scene is booming and there is no shortage of great spots. Tucked away in the most northern tip of The Mile End you will find Café Falco: a gem of a café that serves only slow coffee. No espressos, no cappuccinos: just siphon coffee. Making a good siphon coffee takes hours and real skill, but owner Jerome knows his trade. After opening Café Falco in 2004, it became a Mile End favourite in no time. Of course the amazing loft setting doesn't hurt business either. The vast open space boasts sky-high ceilings with the occasional bike suspended overhead. Grab a spot at one of the large wooden tables and spend a couple of lazy hours nursing the perfect cup of coffee. The Japanese lunch menu lends another interesting twist to this already fascinating establishment.

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Saint Louis Square

Victorian flair

Le Plateau boasts many lovely Victorian houses, but the finest collection lines the streets in and around Saint Louis Square. The square with its lovely fountain, lush trees and ubiquitous squirrels is worth a visit in itself. From the square, take a stroll down the Avenue Laval to admire the stately mansions with stained glass windows, wrought-iron stairways and picturesque roofs. A tad smaller, but just as colourful, are the dollhouse-like buildings on the parallel Rue Drolet.

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La Banquise

Sample Montreal's speciality

Montreal's speciality is poutine. Start with a pile of French fries, douse it in gravy and top it off with lumpy cheese curds. It's hardly gourmet cuisine, but it’s considered a national treasure and one of the most beloved treats you will find in Montreal. Every local will have his or her own favourite place to dig into this hearty dish. There are also numerous cafés and restaurants that serve up this popular comfort food. One fail-proof recommendation is La Banquise. The menu lists more than 30 different types of poutine. In addition to the classic no-frills version you can also sample the La T-Rex: poutine with pepperoni, bacon and a hotdog. Or try La Taquise, which is served with guacamole and sour cream. La Banquise is open 24 hours a day so it’s the perfect place for a late night snack after a night on the town.

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Street art

The city as a canvas

Le Plateau is not only known for its classic Victorian architecture; the omnipresent street art has also left a colourful mark on the neighbourhood. Just taking a stroll can quickly feel like a visit to an outdoor art gallery. Some murals cover entire buildings and are hard to overlook, but narrow alleyways or even bus stops are also great places to see more local art. The streets in and around Saint Laurent Boulevard in particular offer many delightful surprises.

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Kem CoBa

Ice cream with an Asian twist

The queues outside of Kem CoBa often snake all the way around the block in summer. There is even a special Twitter account @KemCobaLine that sends dry humorous tweets to keep people informed of the waiting times at this popular ice cream parlour in The Mile End. What’s the attraction? The salon serves up an ever-changing selection of exotic flavours. Concoctions such as Indian Chai tea, salted butter and hibiscus sorbet surprise even the most discerning local connoisseur. Try their soft ice cream too, which is also delicious. (The chocolate flavour boasts at least 72% chocolate!) It’s easy to see why people don't mind queuing for 30 minutes!

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Mont-Royal

Montreal's pride and joy

Le Plateau is nestled at the foot of the impressive Mont-Royal hill, or ‘La Montagne’ as locals often refer to this public park. This is the place where Montrealers flock for some fresh air, a nice walk, cross-country skiing in winter or a summer picnic. From downtown you can take any trail going up; they all lead to the 233-metre-high top, which offers an amazing view of the city. This green giant actually has three different peaks: at 233 metres, Mont-Royal Summit is the highest and most popular of the three. Inaugurated in 1876, the park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who also designed Central Park in New York. Don't feel like hiking to the top? Bus 11 also gets you there.

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KLM

iFly Magazine

November 2017

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