If you’re going in a cooler time of the year you may want to bring some boots. I had some major boot envy on my recent visit to Montreal. So many people had these unique stylish and yet utilitarian warm footwear, I definitely want to know where they bought theirs. I’m still on the hunt for some that looked like the great leather ones I saw but here are a few that I’ve found so far. Chicago knows it share of winter snow and sleet and just frozen sloppiness, but Montréalais wear some cool looking boots that seem just as practical as they are chic. These are some of my favorites so far. (Feel free to direct me to some of your fave boot finds in the comments!)
- Mackenzie Faux Fur by Santana Canada
- Donatella Tall Lace Up Boot, Aquatherm by Santana Canada
- Brown Massima Suede Boot, Aquatherm by Santana Canada
- Gray Mecatto Leather, Aquatherm by Santana Canada
- Minx Mid ii Omni Heat by Columbia
- Cate the Great Wedge Boot by Sorel
My Winter Jaunt in Montreal
Looking down from my hotel window, I was excited for my half day to explore the city. I purposely built in a little extra time on a recent business trip.
The first part of the day was what I imagine I would do on my day off if I lived in Montreal. I made my way over to a cafe I had mentally marked the day before, a Portuguese cafe called Cafe Vasco da Gama. I managed to order in French and settled in with a magazine I had yanked from the hotel to read about the goings on in the city, new hotels, and winter festivals. In this little cozy place, a bagel and hot chocolate felt luxurious. Montreal is known for its bagels and though I didn’t make it to one of the well-known bakeries I still thought I should try one here so I had the requisite sesame bagel. It was toasted perfectly, enhancing that sesame flavor and came with cantaloupe slices, strawberries, and blueberries putting to shame most of the watery, tasteless fruit sides I usually suffer through. The hot chocolate used real chocolate and there were still thin chocolate shavings on top when they brought it table-side. I had to force myself up away from my reverie remembering there was more to see.
I had an approximate route planned but stopped at a Jean Couteau to get a bottle of water, hoping it was similar to a Walgreens or CVS here in the U.S. Success. I had read up on the city before my visit and it seemed like Boulevard St-Laurent was a main artery and a good road to venture down. Before I could make it there the cold temps were already starting to get to me so I ducked into a mall to see what stores might be inside. I saw a card shop and a light bulb went off. Valentines Day was in a few weeks. Perfect, I could get a card in French (the language of love!) for my husband. Then, warmed and restored I continued on my way.
The area around right around Rue St-Catherine and Blvd St-Laurent gets a little rougher, with a more bohemian-vibe. Here you might find some contemporary theaters and a little further north a couple night clubs, but I veered east where the area transitions to a China Town. Plenty of Chinese restaurants and also some Vietnamese and ramen spots as well as a tiki bar, Le Mal Nécessaire (Necessary Evil). Now that’s a stop for a return visit when I’m not walking by at 10:30 in the morning. I was happy to see the different neighborhoods though at the time I was questioning my path, but I like discovering places like this. There are things that can be found and cherished that won’t necessarily be in any tour book or article. Though a woman on her own has to be alert and in a city where English is not always the first language it makes you very present and more alive in a way. Looking at buildings, statues, restaurants with a tourist’s eye; watching the streets as a navigator; the artist in me observing people and waiting for the perfect shot; but all the while still needing to be vigilant of my surroundings and my purse!
Even in the snow after a while, I noticed the streets had turned to cobblestones and veered off the main boulevard to see Notre Dame and Vieux Montreal. Here I walked up and down the streets in a zig-zag, window shopping for possible souvenirs to bring back. Then it was time to head back so I took a street west not exactly sure where I was. Fluffy snow flakes continued to fall. Bundled in my hat and scarf and furry hood (thank God! – see my planning section below), I passed quiet smokers in doorways, and was approached by a youngster I can only assume was asking for money – my basic French failed me and I probably stared for much too long before shaking my head no. The streets sloped down and I hoped in the snowy slush I wouldn’t slide and fall. Finally, I recognized a square I had passed earlier by the Bay Department store. I knew where I was now but decided to take a different way back to the hotel, wanting to walk through the McGill University campus. I eyed a bookstore and it was my instinct to head in but short on time I continued back to the hotel to dry off before a lunch of smoked meats. (In French Canada, what ratio of books are in French compared to English? What kind of selection is in there for an Anglophile like me?!)
My walk was wonderful. Most probably would have taken the morning to peruse a museum, but I would rather become acquainted with a city. One that I hope with a few more visits becomes a close friend.