With a rich history and full of life, Old Montreal is worth discovering and rediscovering. The Phi Centre has developed a two-day itinerary that will take you on an artistic, historic and gastronomic journey into the heart of this district where the sound of your feet echoes along its narrow cobblestone streets.
10 AM – For a gentle and beautiful start to the day, a stop at Tommy café is a must. After a delicious latte and pastry in one of the city’s most instagrammed locations – as evidenced by the very popular hashtag #tommymontreal – you will be ready to tackle Old Montreal.
11:30 PM – Once you’ve had your boost of caffeine, head over to DHC/ART for the exhibit Points de départ, points qui lient by London artist Bharti Kher. Known on the international art scene for her signature use of the bindi, Bharti Kher explores the concepts of borders, femininity and ritual in a series of paintings and sculptural works.
* DHC/ART offers free lunch hour visits led by a DHC/ART educator. No reservation required. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 12:15 PM The tour will last 45 minutes and be held in French and/or English based on the group’s needs.
1:30 PM – Wander over to SSENSE’s new cultural space to check out its superb brutalist decor. The site boasts installations, a small selection of clothing available in store (of course, you are encouraged to set up a shopping session online and then stop by to try on your selection in store), a bookstore and a café.
3 PM – Now that the lunch crowds have moved on, it’s time for a late lunch at LOV, where you can savour the botanical cuisine of chef Stéphanie Audet (see our interview with the chef during Women With Knives again) and recharge your batteries.
5 PM – As you head into the evening, visit the Phi Centre for the Particles of Existence experience. Travel the universe through virtual reality with this unique exhibit that immerses you in nature, humanity and space like you have never experienced before. Give yourself time to visit the Phi Boutique, the Roxham photography installation and an installation highlighting the 10th anniversary of Next Floor, a short film by Denis Villeneuve.
* Note: tickets are sold in blocks of three hours and it is recommended to purchase them in advance. The exhibit is for ages 13 years and over. The exhibit is open in the evening on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
9 PM – Unwind on the Terrasse William Gray. Located on the eighth floor of one of the most beautiful buildings in Old Montreal, the terrace of the William Gray hotel offers a breathtaking view of Place Jacques-Cartier, the Grande roue de Montréal and the St. Lawrence River. Heated on cool evenings and serving an impressive variety of cocktails, beers and platters to share.
10 AM – Start your second day in Old Montreal with the Old Montreal Food Tour and enjoy a culinary journey throughout the district. Discover six of its finest establishments: the Crew, a magnificent café located in the former Royal Bank of Canada building (the location appears on the Forbes list of the five most beautiful coworking locations in the world); the Cookie Stéfanie bakery, which specializes in gluten-free treats; the former general store Le P’tit Dep and its shepherd’s pie; the Portugese market Cantinho de Lisboa; the artisan microbrewery Les Soeurs Grises; and, finally, Soupesoup with its traditional Quebecois poor man’s pudding (pouding chômeur).
2 PM – Nefertari, Nefertiti and Hatshepsut await you at the Pointe-à-Callière museum, as part of the Queens of Egypt exhibit. Focusing on the mothers, wives and daughters of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom some 3 500 years ago, this fascinating exhibit features statues, sarcophagi, funerary objects, frescoes and jewellery associated with these historical queens.
While you’re at Pointe-à-Callière, check out the permanent multimedia installation Building Montréal, a fascinating illuminated excursion in the museum’s archaeological crypt, located on the very site of the city’s foundation.
6 PM – After ancient Egypt and Montréal of yesteryear, take a gourmet trip inspired by the Vietnamese cuisine of the illustrious Mr. Hà, who was head chef at the Souvenirs d’Indochine restaurant and an important figure on Montreal’s culinary scene. Hà restaurant offers dishes inspired by the flavours of Southeast Asia, always fresh and served in a friendly atmosphere with inviting decor. Talking about inviting decor, make a stop at Nhau Bar, located just below the restaurant.
9 PM – As night falls throughout Old Montreal, Cité Mémoire projects over 20 video creations inspired by the history of Montreal onto the facades of various buildings. From Tuesday to Sunday until the end of the summer, you can wander around the district that transforms into a true living work of art and wind up your evening at Champ-de-Mars for the Cité Mémoire’s Grand Tableau (projected from Thursday to Saturday at 9 PM and 10 PM).
* Don’t forget to download the free app Montréal en Histoires and bring your headphones to listen to the historical background associated with each creation.
By Gabrielle Lisa Collard
Photos (cover): Martine Lavoie