Montreal in the summer is pure heaven. Jazzfest, Just for laughs, drinks on a terrasse in the Old Port, Day trips to LaRonde, Sunday TamTam sessions. All of that and so much more make me love Montreal even more during the height of a hot summer. But my second favourite season to visit my home city in is Fall, or Autumn as everyone outside North America calls it. The crisp leaves that one the ground, crunching under your feet as you look up to see the trees still full of vibrant oranges & reds. The sunny days, cooler evenings. There may be less opportunity to sit out on a terrasse, but armed with something to warm you up the city is open for you to explore. After my most recent trip home this October I’ve got a few can’t miss spots for you to check out to really get that fall feel in Montreal.
Old Montreal - Founded in 1642 and formerly known at Fort Ville-Marie, the old part of the city is one of my absolute favourites and one that will transport you back in time walking along the cobbled streets looking out over the river. Take a walk out towards Clock Tower Beach (not for swimming in the fall or any time of year really) but if you look back down the waterside path you’ll be greeted with stunning trees of orange and red amongst the lush green ones. La Grade Roue (Big Ferris Wheel) is a new instalment in the old port in the last 18 months and one that adds such a fun and magical vibe to the city. Whether you’re going up in the wheel, walking along the tiny streets or sitting by the water (with a warm drink of course) this part of the city really does have all those photo worthy autumnal vibes you want.
The Plateau - known as the young student friendly neighbourhood in the city, the Plateau boats gorgeous townhouses which scream “photograph me!” Stretching upwards from the Old Port the golden leafed trees line the streets making you feel as if you could be walking straight into a painting or a postcard. Quaint restaurants and cafes line the sidewalks, and you’ll be drawn in by the smells. Including that of the infamous St-Viateur Bagel shop; a historic establishment and somewhere that should truly not be missed on any visit to the city. Grab yourself a quick snack or a cheeky dozen to take home (and not share with your friends and family), and then make your way to the historic St-Louis Square to stare longingly at your dream home (or mine at least). These victorian houses that face the park with the coloured roof peaks are some of the most beautiful in the city, not to mention the street art that graces the sides of buildings in between are something to be marvelled at.
Mont Royal & Beaver Lake - An iconic location in the city, and the closest you’ll come to an actual mountain in the city. What is actually a large volcanic-related hill draws tourists and locals alike no matter the weather. In the summer you’ll find people sunning themselves out with picnics both at the summit and by beaver lake late into the evenings, in the winter you’ll find only the brave out taking in the snowy views and maybe a classic skate session out on the lake itself, and this time of year you’ll find everyone and their neighbour out taking in the fall colours around the lake slowly strolling around enjoying the fleeting sunlight, before making their way up to the look out or the summit laying their eyes on an incredible view of the city accentuated by gorgeous red and gold trees. From the lookout point you'll be able to see out for miles, keep your eyes peeled for the ferris wheel, and some iconic street art as you look out over the city.
Centennial Park - This park will take you out of the main downtown core, but if you find yourself staying closer to the airport or with a car you might as well venture out of the centre. But never fear, if you don’t have a car the public transit options in Montreal will have you here (and to the next few spots) pretty easy! Located in Dollard-Des-Ormeaux (DDO) a suburb of the city you’ll escape the crowds of downtown and if you pick a day like I did you could very well not see another person on the trails the whole day. The park itself has a dozen different trails to choose from depending on how long you want to spend out. The map at entrance to the park also tells you which trails are suited to cross country skiing (if you happen to visit again in the winter this would be a great place to get the skis out! The most scenic (in my opinion) is the “bear” trail at 2.2 km in total, a loop that goes around the lake and through the surround woodlands. BE sure to keep your eyes peeled for a gorgeous little gazebo (perfect for photos) overlooking the lake.
Bord Du Lac - (Translated to English as Lakeshore) If you head further west away from downtown Montreal you’ll hit a stretch of road that runs about 20km from Lachine all the way to Sainte-Anne-De-Belevue along the water. This is my “home turf” so to speak and I spent a lot of time in this area growing up. I lived in Sainte-Anne-De-Bellevue for years and went to high school there, but I never really appreciated how scenic it was until I left (standard isn’t it). In the summer is road is jam packed with cyclists and out of towners taking advantage of the hot weather and patios on the waterfront, but as soon as Fall hits and the students go back to school things really seem to quiet down giving you the perfect day to head out and explore. A bus route all the way downtown runs most of this length of road so again no worries if you are without vehicle on your trip to Montreal. Take some time to stroll through Sainte-Anne-De-Bellvue, make a bit spot at the Base D'urfe town hall and marvel at Frizt Farm in the background. As you make your way out through Point-Claire and into Dorval (where the airport is) you’ll find gorgeous fall colours, and maybe even a brave soul out wind sailing or boating.
Pointe Du Moulin - This last spot is definitely one of my new favourite finds after this last trip back home and one that’s extra special. Now the main reason I headed home this October was to be part of a wedding of two of my lovely friends, and as I stood up there with them in this spectacular location I was seriously wishing I had my camera on me. But the very next day with the sunshining, I dragged my exhausted post wedding self out of bed to explore this historic location. Located off the island of Montreal this location would require a car to get you there, and I promise you won’t be disappointed about heading out of the big bad city and into the suburbs for this. In 1978 the park was opened to the public and for a small entry fee of $8.00 CAD you’ll have free reign over the 30 acres of land on the shores of the gorgeous St-Lawrence River. During the winter months the park is sadly closed, but you have a solid amount of time left in the year before Winter full descends on Montreal so put it on your list.
Every time I go home to visit Montreal, I find a new love for the city and the surrounding area. I find places right in my own backyard (or rather my parents now) that I never knew existed even though I lived there for 20 years of my life. I tend to laugh when I do go home and find these places and then rant & rave about them to people because when I was living there I really didn’t care to explore the city. I went to the same restaurants, the same places and did the same things and I really couldn’t make myself love the city if I tried. Now? Well now I truly can say I am so lucky to have come from such an amazing city full of art , culture & gorgeous scenery. This last trip home was one of the most memorable ones and I’m already counting down the days until I get to visit and find all sorts of new places to fall in love with.