In 2012 I made my first trip to Old Montreal, the Old Port. I immediately fell in love with the city. I thought I had been transported to another world when I arrived that first day. I could have sworn I was in Europe, and for me, the Country I’d been transported to was, Italy of course! At that point in my life I was beginning to think that I would never make it to Italia, that it would remain at the top of my 2 item Bucket List forever. So for me, this charming city, full of cobblestone streets, outside cafes, artists painting on the street, crumbling old buildings and horse drawn carriages was magical. I ended up returning 3 years in a row, to the same hotel because it too, was, and is, the nicest hotel that I’ve stayed in to date and I also love the staff.
The room could not have been more beautiful and talk about old world charm – I was in heaven.
Travelling alone, oftentimes I spend time chatting with the staff in the hotels, in this case it was the Concierge and Bellboys (do they call them that anymore?). Michael, once I broke the ice with him and he stopped being so formal, was so much fun. In fact, we have a standing ‘date’ for he and I to go shopping and to teach me how to use their subway on my return. Then there are the ‘3 Freds’. Yes, each one is named Fred! I referred to them as Short Fred, Medium Fred and Tall Fred, how original huh? My second year visiting, Short Fred was gone, but Medium and Tall Fred were still there and my third trip. It has been so much fun returning each year, kind of like a mini reunion. They always remember me by name, and welcomed me with huge smiles and always hugs when I left. In fact when I pulled up in the cab on my last trip, Tall Fred came out the door and called Medium Fred over with a ‘Look who’s here! Welcome back DeeAnn So good to see you!’ I finally got them to call me Rae half way through this trip.
I have learned that Tall Fred is a fellow motorcyclist as well as a TV/Movie enthusiast. He was so psyched to see the shots I got of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and asked for copies of all the photos that I took of the filming. We spent as much time as we could each day chatting, learning about each other and each others country and customs, they would teach me some French, and just plain having fun. For me, this is part of what makes a place special and why I return to places over and over again. Much like Pacific Beach, CA – when you get to know the people, it just makes it that much more fun to go back. I also feel a sense of security because they get to know my habits from day to day and I always feel like if something were to happen, they would know something was wrong. So meet the gang!
Tall Fred, Michael, and Medium Fred
Me and the my boys 🙂
Short Fred and Tall Fred
New friends – Veronique’ is a little spitfire! When the subject of celebrity chef, Chuck Hughes came up, she reinforced what everyone says about him. That he is just a regular guy, really down to earth and a total sweetheart. . She has also been spoon fed by him. Mon Dieu! She urged me to return to his restaurant and try to meet him. I have yet to meet him on 3 separate trips. Oliver is full of hell – we had so much fun the 2 days that they were working. Oliver was a Pastry Chef in ‘a former life’ and has been in the hotel biz for over 25 years. He has traveled the world, climbed mountains, and written about it in journals so there was much for us to discuss. It is from him that I first heard about renting apartments. Oscar checked me in on my arrival and I saw Michael helping another guest. As soon as Michael was done, he ran around the desk and gave me a great big hug welcoming me back to the Auberge. I mean, how special right?
And now let’s step outside to the wonderful Old Port. I hope you enjoy your stroll around Old Montreal.
Horse drawn carriages waiting to be hired near Place Jacques Cartier. I loved the sound of the clomping hooves on the cobblestone street outside my hotel at night. I do however, feel sorry for these horses as they plod along throughout the Old Port until past midnight every day. Some of the streets are quite steep and they need to run in order to get up and will not stop until they reach the top of the street. I found this out the hard way one day while crossing a short, but steep, street. 2 carriages came around the corner just as I reached the point of ‘no return’ while crossing. I simply stood still and allowed them to go around me on each side. Whew!
Cafe’s along Rue Saint Paul. This street is known for its restaurants which are plentiful. You can find some amazing food along this street. Much of it is fresh and local. Traffic is not allowed on this section of the street like some cities in Italy.
Traffic is allowed on this end of Rue Saint Paul, despite the park benches in the street. Be careful when crossing or walking in this section of the street.
Early morning in the Old Port
Notre Dame and the Place d’ Armes –
Place d’Armes is the second oldest public site in Montreal, it was called Place de la Fabrique when it was first developed in 1693, at the request of the Sulpicians, then later renamed Place d’Armes in 1721 when it became the stage of various military events. From 1781 to 1813, it was used as a hay and wood market, then developed as a Victorian garden after it was acquired by the city in 1836.
The Maisonneuve Monument commemorating Chomedey’s defense of the young French settlement against the Iroquois, against whom de Maisonneuve’s allies the Hurons were fighting
The Bank of Montreal
Rainy Day along Rue de La Commune
A rainy day view from my room down Rue de La Commune
Looking up Place Jacques-Cartier. The Place is lined with restaurants and ice cream shops. I discovered that ice cream is very popular in Old Montreal. There seemed to be ice cream shops everywhere! I love that you will find the owner, host or hostess or sometimes the Chef standing outside the restaurant trying to get you to eat there. Always with a smile of course, and letting you know what the specials are. I found this same thing in the Piazza’s and Campos of Florence and Venice.
La Sauvagine Restaraunt – one of my favorite restaurants in Old Montreal
The building on the right on this quay is the Museum of Science and a parking garage. These quays are huge! Way in the background is the Biosphere from the Olympic City from 1976
This gives you an idea of the size of these quays
Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours – One of the oldest churches in Montreal, it was built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel. St. Marguerite-Bourgeoys was the first teacher in the colony of Ville-Marie and the founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame. In the 19th century the chapel became a pilgrimage site for sailors arriving in the Old Port of Montreal. They made offerings to the Virgin in gratitude for her good help and safe sea voyages. In 1849, the statue of the Virgin as Star of the Sea was placed on top of the church overlooking the harbour. The chapel is often called the Sailors Church. With my love of the sea, is it any wonder that I was drawn to this church?
The Chapel from the back side as seen from the St. Lawrence River
Sainte Marguerite Bourgeoys Crypt.
The rear of the church and the balcony
I thought that the cigarette in his mouth, gave him that classic ‘French Painter’ look don’t you? I am just now noticing, some 5 years later, his ‘No Photo’ drawing! But I do notice now that it is not in the next photo, taken the following year.
A very narrow and steep street …..
A trip to Old Montreal would not be complete without visiting Notre Dame Basilica. I admit,
I was taken aback the first time I walked inside. It is magnificent. Of course, I had not yet been to the churches of Italia. However, there is no denying the grandeur of this church. Flash photography is not allowed making hand held shots in some very low light situations, very difficult.
The base of the pulpit
Chapel of Note-Dame Sacre’-Coeur
The Organ: 4 keyboards, 99 stops and approximately 7000 pipes!
These line the interior walls on both sides of the Basilica
The Chapel of The Blessed Sacrament – it is enclosed in a glass room. As there were people inside praying, I shot this through the glass.
The Clock Tower. It is a lovely walk all along the St. Lawrence River. This end and up to the Quays is the most scenic, beyond the quays there are old abandoned warehouses. It looks like they may be cleaning that area up however, and there were several food trucks located in that area.
Taken from inside the dome of Notre-Dame-de-bon-Secours Chapel.
Each year I tried to meet Chuck Hughes, celebrity chef. I have been watching his show and cooking along with him via my DVR. I love his style of cooking, very fresh, and he doesn’t use a lot of fancy cooking gadgets to do what he does. He is all about the seafood as is evident by some of his many tattoos. Each year I miss seeing him. This year he is not back from filming in Vancouver, but..his partner gave me his cookbook. He said he was sorry that I’d come all this way and missed him again and that if Chuck were here, he’d be doing the same thing and be talking to me…that he is just like he is on TV. Chuck is Chuck. How cool is that?!? Soo…. this is Chuck and I, such as it is for now. Maybe next year?