Archive for the ‘Attractions’ Category

Montréal receives quite some snow in winter covering it with a blanket of white. On average about 10 to 15cm of snow will fall per week, usually over one day. Locals will talk about snow “storms”; but in reality it just amounts to a lot of snow falling in one day.

Snow falls can be very beautiful; leaving a clean feeling to the environment.

However, once 2.5cm have fallen the city’s snow removal team will jump into action and start clearing the roads and sidewalks. They do this with snowploughs mounted on the front of trucks and by distributing salt on the roads. After this has happened, much of what was white has turned brown. The mountains of brown will then be slowly removed to dumps so that it can melt away. After 2007-2008’s near record snowfall, the dumps were still melting in August.

Generally it’s easy to drive around after the snow has fallen as it’s cleared pretty quickly, but people will drive more slowly so you need to allow more time to go anywhere.

What really make’s Montréal spectacular is the strength of the sun that shines down on it. Montréal has the same latitude as Bordeaux, so you have this wonderfully bright sun with deep blue skies illuminating the snow covered ground. Much nicer than grey and mild central European winters!

Here are some photographs of Old Montréal and the port a few days after snow fall.


Read Full Post »

Father Christmas' Parade - Montréal - Défilé du Père NoëlEvery year in Montréal there is a parade welcoming Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) to the city. Parents and children line Montréal’s main shopping thoroughfare, la rue Saint Catherine as different floats and performances move along the road. Despite the sub zero temperatures (it was -5oc) everyone was in a good mood and enjoying the atmosphere.

The best prepared Canadians were there about 30mins before the official start of 11am with their folding chairs coffee and Timbits.

Here are some photographs from this year’s parade:

Read Full Post »

The holiday season is fast approaching and soon it will be time to decorate our houses with lots of Christmas decorations. If you’d like to go somewhere really special to select your favourite baubles, why not drive over the border to Burlington in Vermont? It’s just under two hours drive from Montréal.

Burlington itself is a nice small university town with one street of shops, a small mall and a few restaurants. It makes a nice day trip out from Montréal if you fancy a bit of shopping in the USA. Why not combine a trip to Burlington with a visit to the Chrismas Loft?

Located in Shelburne just south of Burlington, the Chrismas Loftis a large building just full of Christmas decorations and what’s more, they have a Christmas village in the centre of the store. The choice of baubles and decorations is amazing and the prices are correct. It’s a chic store, not bargin basement at all, without being extorsionately expensive.

Hint: if you’re driving to Burlington from Montréal, ignore your sat nav and take the autoroute 15-S towards New York State. Once over the border, leave the highway at exit 43 direction Champlain and then follow road signs towards Burlington. It takes about 5 minutes longer, but it’s a much more senic drive.

Read Full Post »

What can I say but wow! If you’ve never seen Hallowe’en in North America you’re in for a pleasant surprise! It’s really taken seriously here.

La Prairie in suburban Montréal organises a Hallowe’en party in it’s 340 year old historical centre. Amongst the old buildings a haunted graveyard was set up, one of the municipal buildings became an asylum for demented demons, locals stood on their porches giving out candies, sweets drinks to the children. There was even a live band playing music.

Adults and kids were all dressed up in Hallowe’en and other costumes. The atmosphere was great, everyone was enjoying the fun. Children were collecting their treats and examining the costumes of others.

Contrary to Europe, there was no alcohol served which really gave the place a nice family friendly atmosphere that really surprised me too.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone at La Prairie for organising such a super evening. We’ll definitely be back next year.

In the residential streets in Montréal, many houses are extensively decorated with Hallowe’en‘s key characters. Front lawns become graveyards, giant spiders spin their webs, and hords of children roam the streets ready to trick you if you don’t give them a treat! Actually I can’t imagine any of the very polite kids I gave sweets to wanting to play a trick.

Enjoy Hallowe’en North American style!

Read Full Post »

Knowlton is the largest village in the town of Lac Brome in the Eastern Townships. It’s very much a tourist destination with pretty Victorian villas and various cafés and restaurants. Situated on the edge of Lac Brome, Knowlton is a wonderful destination for a weekend away from Montréal or even for a Sunday lunch out. The village was founded by loyalist settlers that left the US after its declaration of independence from the crown.

There are a lot of nice shops to mooch around, although quite a few less than Magog. Knowlton is very much a village. The Knowlton Station shop is worth a look, they make great sandwiches and cake so worth popping in for afternoon tea too.

Knowlton has also a small museum which is worth a look with articles from the wars and the settlement of the area.

One of the nicer restaurants to eat in is “Le Relais” a old staging inn that is still operating as both an inn and a restaurant. If you’d like to eat here at the weekend it’s imperative to reserve in advance on + 1 450-242-2232.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area that is reasonably priced, it’s worthwhile looking at Le Cyprès motel. Its small but clean rooms are around $100 + tax which includes a good continental breakfast. Reservations on: 1.866.243.0363

Read Full Post »


Cherry Lake in Mont Orford national park

Cherry Lake in Mont Orford national park

Mont Orford is the highest peak and the largest national park in the Eastern Townships. It’s run by the Sépaq so has all the standard facilites including parking, a visitor centre, camp sites and trails.


In addition to the national park, the mountain also has an area reserved for alpine skiing, and when there is no snow, gondola rides in the cable car.

The national park has several walking trails of different difficulty, although there is not a vast choice compared to other parks. I have the feeling that this park really comes to life during the winter when there are several cross-country skiing and racket trails.

At this moment in time, the change in the colour of leaves is absolutely spectacular throughout the park and in the surrounding area.

Just outside the Sépaq park is the Ski Centre Orford which is set up for skiing on Mont Orford, but during the summer offers hiking trails up to the summet of the mountain. The easy trail is about 4km long. There is also the gondola cable car which will take you up to the top for the modest fee of $6.50 plus tax.

The nearest town is Orford, but Magog is near by too and has many more hotels, restaurants and shops so makes a good base for exploring the mountain and indeed the rest of the Eastern Townships.

Read Full Post »


Pier at North Hatley

Pier at North Hatley

North Hatley is a small village in the Eastern Townships on the north end of Lake Massawippi. It has a population of around 800 people and is one of the prettiest villages in this part of Québec. 

Originally founded by loyalists fleeing an independent America, it is made up essentially of pretty villas overlooking the lake. There is really one road that runs through the village with a few cafés and restaurants and a few tourist oriented shops. There is a good sized car park behind the Pilsner Pub.

Next to the car park there is a children’s play area, a few picnic tables and an unmanned tourist centre. Pop into this centre to pick up a walking tour leaflet for a bit of history of the villas in the village.

North Hatley is a nice place to spend a few quiet and calm hours. Why not come for lunch looking over the lake or afternoon tea?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »