WORKING OUT Outdoors Mont-Royal Park http://www.lemontroyal.qc.ca Marked by a cross that celebrates the city’s founding Catholic roots, Mont-Royal Park is one of Montreal’s largest green spaces. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same guy that designed New York’s beloved Central Park, Mont-Royal Park is a concentrated playground of outdoor activity. With a man-made lake and acres of lush forest housed within its borders, Mont-Royal boasts inner tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, sledding, pedal-boating hiking, biking, running, and bird-watching to keep any level of discipline in check at any time of the year. Indoors Gym Victoria Park 376 Victoria Avenue. Westmount. 514- 488-5182. Overlooking Mont Royal, this urban retreat is a one-stop shop for people who care about their bodies. The favorite of Montreal athletes, Victoria Park uses all local building materials to evoke a humble, rustic workout experience encompassing yoga, Pilates, spinning, TRX, cardio, and circuit training. The Park’s integrated approach includes on-site doctors, dieticians, massage therapists, aestheticians, and dermatologists to keep Montreal’s beautiful, well, beautiful. Hotel Gym Fairmont, Queen Elizabeth 900 Rene Levesque Boulevard. 866-540-4483. www.fairmont.com/queenelizabeth In room 1742 of this fabled hotel, Yoko Ono and John Lennon made history with their famous bed-in, recording ‘Give Peace a Chance’ in their suite’s living room. However rather than sleep in, work out at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth’s 24-hour gym. Featuring an indoor pool, steam baths, fitness room with free weights, a Keiser circuit, and cardio machines, the newly renovated Gibson Spa’s signature massage offers a bed-in experience of its own. GOING OUT Eats Montreal is a foodie’s dream, so it’s hard to go wrong. Popular Au Pied de Cochon is the spot for decadent pork and foie gras dishes, while Schwartz is the place to get your smoked meat on. A battle rages between Fairmont and St. Viateur bagels, and new restaurants open daily. Here, a few of many wonderful options.
Courtesy of Le Club Chasse et Peche
Le Club Chasse et Peche 423, rue St-Claude. 514-861-1112. www.leclubchasseetpeche.com A former women’s prison, the “Hunting and Fishing Club” is a clubby, atmospheric space with mood lighting and plenty of antler-themed décor. Tucked down a few steps rue St-Claude in Old Montreal, the service is impeccable, and the food divine. Following theme, the menu is broken down into fish and meat selections. Recommendations, you say? The scallops with fennel puree and veal sirloin. Le Garde Manger 408, rue Saint-François-Xavier. 514-678-5044. Behind a door on rue Saint-François-Xavier, marked only by a pink florescent square, Chef Chuck Hughes of the Food Network’s Chuck’s Day Off is turning out some amazing food. With a soundtrack that jumps from Otis Redding to Beck to Powderfinger, this dimly lit joint is always full. Opt for the bacon-coated halibut with oysters and mussels or a classic steak frites, and if you’ve done your day’s cardio, the lobster poutine (fries with cheese and gravy) and the deep-fried Mars Bar are menu staples. Le 400 Coups 400 Notre-Dame Est. 514-985-0400. www.les400coups.ca. A new addition to the restaurant scene, Le 400 Coups is a polished black space with high aluminum tiled ceilings, globe lighting, and an 8-seat bar. Every table occupied, the place buzzes with energy; it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation. Understandably. Daily menus vary, but mine featured a piglet ravioli with a lobster bisque broth, and an arctic char with a Peking duck base. Before I left, I booked my next meal. NIGHTLIFE Billy Kun 354 Avenue Du Mont-Royal Est. 514-845-5392. www.bilykun.com This hipster hangout on Mont-Royal in the Plateau section is usually brimming with creative types. Don’t let the ostrich heads dotting the walls freak you out; the vibe here isn’t as curious. A relaxed spot for cocktails or a beer, a few hours of afternoon jazz is followed by nightly spins by some of the city’s best DJs. Pullman Wine Bar 3424 Avenue du Parc. 514-288-7779. www.pullman-mtl.com A unique space occupying three floors anchored by a wine glass chandelier, Pullman Wine Bar is a temple for the oenophile. With over 300 wines, 50 of which are served by the glass, the cheese selection and tapas-style pickings round out the experience. Bring a date. Philemon 111 Saint-Paul Ouest. 514-289-3777. http://philemonbar.com A new addition to the Old Montreal scene, Philemon is a cozy lounge serving decent priced wine, beer, and cocktails to the sound of DJ-produced beats. Good for groups, the mix is eclectic—from three-piece suits to flannels shirts—and the energy within insures that the windows stay fogged on cold winter Montreal nights. STAY Hotel Le St-James 355 Saint-Jacques Street. 514-841-3111. www.hotellestjames.com The showpiece of the city’s hotel collection, the regal Le St-James is all about luxury and service. A taxi, town car, or umbrella awaits your every move. Gilded elevators, dramatic hallways, and spacious rooms encourage mental escape. Acclaimed XO restaurant features soaring ceilings with red and purple accents—the color of royalty—but justifying the hefty price tag, the Le St-James delivers on both promise and experience. Hotel Gault 449 Rue Sainte-Hélène. 514-904-1616. www.hotelgault.com. A design fantasy featuring art installations that change monthly, the open, airy Hotel Gault is another Old Montreal favorite. Massive, lofty rooms are decorated with minimalist details, while heavenly beds and even more heavenly breakfast croissants make for a pleasant experience. (Tip: Ask for top floor accommodations, heel clicking from overhead rooms can become an issue.) Le Petit Hôtel 168, rue Saint-Paul Ouest. 514-940-0360. http://petithotelmontreal.com. With just 24 rooms, this budget boutique hotel delivers the comfort and style of its Old Montreal counterparts without breaking the bank. Exposed stone detailing and top of the line amenities are just some of the features that keep Le Petit Hôtel consistently booked. The European-style lobby café sweetens the deal.