Thursday, October 24, 2013

This Fall, Montreal


October 2013: Autumn Garden by the Old Port, Montreal I
Photo by David Peterson

This fall, my husband and I finally made it to Montreal, Quebec. It was a celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary. My parents were willing to cross Lake Michigan to provide several days of childcare (my eternal thanks!). To quote The Sound of Music, "I must have done something good." There were no health, auto, job, or home emergencies before takeoff, and the Fates decreed that husband and I would live to enjoy this gracious city together.

We'd both been intrigued by Montreal for years: an attractive old-new city with deep North American history, good food, vibrant fall colors, and a French flavored culture that wouldn't take us an ocean away from our young children.

We weren't disappointed -- except in our assumption that tourist parking would be easy to find. Fortunately Montreal is walkable, and it was a pleasure to gaze into boutique windows, bistros, and brasseries; or to take in architectural details and street style as the sidewalk kilometers passed.

Men's shirts, pants, and suiting: much more snug, I must say, than in Appleton, Wisconsin. There were the lumberjack plaids and checks I expected, made chic in tailored shirts. I didn't notice style unities among the women, except a tendency toward flats for walking on cobblestones, and the ubiquity of black leggings for both casual and dressy ensembles.

Indeed, HuffPo called it months ago: "Montreal Fashion Week: Day 1 Shows Leggings And Black Are Back For Fall 2013"

I had no black leggings with me, but I felt comfortably dressy and metropolitan in this outfit. My husband humored me with some fashion shots in Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal): at some richly autumnal gardens by the port, and at the Pointe-à-Callière archaeology & history museum:


October 2013: Autumn Garden by the Old Port, Montreal II
Photo by David Peterson



October 2013: At the Pointe-à-Callière Museum I
Photo by David Peterson



October 2013: At the Pointe-à-Callière Museum II
Photo by David Peterson



October 2013: Autumn Garden by the Old Port, Montreal III
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



We stayed at the Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy in Vieux-Montréal. I'd fallen in love with its description in my 2009 Frommer's guide (we'd been considering Montreal since 2009, at least):

"This cheery B&B in the heart of Vieux-Montréal is a former 1723 fur warehouse gracefully converted into a tip-top inn. Its romantic rooms feature mortared stone walls, beamed ceilings, wrought-iron or brass beds, and buffed wood floors.... Breakfast is a special selling point: A sky-lit dining nook features communal tables on either side of a fireplace imported from Bordeaux. The substantial morning meals include chocolate croissants and made-to-order omelets. The marble-floored entry doubles as a gallery space -- unusual for a B&B -- immediately setting a relaxed, urbane tone."


October 2013: Auberge Sign
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson


We splurged on the Suite. It was airy and attractive, hung with paintings by a local artist, arranged with comfortable furnishings and a small fireplace, and revealing brick, old beams, and woodwork rich in character. I loved our ceiling-high view onto Rue St-Paul Ouest, and I even enjoyed the sounds of daily passersby and late night restaurant-goers. They were a bit of festive company even though we had complete privacy once the curtains were drawn.

The innkeepers and staff were friendly, attentive, and warm. The breakfasts were divinity: fresh croissants and pain au chocolat; yogurts and fruit salad; crocks of fieldberry jam; smooth coffee and cream or teas; and your choice of handmade French toast or an omelet with various fillings. The smoked salmon omelet with tomato and capers was particularly luxurious.

Daniel the innkeeper said he shopped every morning at the Marché Atwater for supplies. We hiked to this famed city market one afternoon and put together a dinner of Quebec smoked salmon, fresh breads, strawberries, cheeses, and "La Noire" (dark) and "La Tarte au Sucre" (milk chocolate fondant) bars from Les Chocolats Martine.


October 2013: First morning peek to Rue St-Paul Ouest
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson


October 2013: Suite Bedroom at the Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: Auberge Breakfast
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: Suite Wall
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: Still Life with Great Aunt Elsie's Luggage
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: Filmy Curtains
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: Suite Art: Girl Reading a Black Book
Oil on canvas by Jacques Clément
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: The Breakfast Room by Night
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



If it seems like there are...enough pictures of the Auberge; you are correct -- and there are more than this. But an elegant, atmospheric place to rest was important to both of us, and we were delighted that the Auberge was as nice as hoped.

But let's go into Montreal itself again. A few favorite images:


October 2013: Layers of Old and New
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: Hallowe'en Decor at L'Usine de Spaghetti Restaurant
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson



October 2013: Rays of Heavenly Light at the Oratoire St. Joseph
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson


I adored these autumn colors on a Rue Sherbrooke office building, near the Musée des Beaux Arts:


October 2013: Climbing Colors, Rue Sherbrooke
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson

...and this letter box on Rue de la Commune, at Le Magasin Général du Vieux-Montréal.


October 2013:  Old Letter Box, Rue de la Commune
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson


We did find good shopping -- and my favorite shops were so enthralling that I never thought to get out my camera. I've found a couple of evocative images by others, though.

We did much of our shopping in the silver-domed Marché Bonsecours. Its main level is an elegant mall of locally made art, crafts, and fashion, as well as souvenirs that are a step or three above what you'd find in a streetside souvenir shop. I spent an hour in Lilyka, a boutique of youthful clothing and accessories by Quebec designers. I loved a black and gunmetal brocade A-line skirt on the hanger, but not on me alas, so I settled for a couple pairs of earrings that await my birthday and Christmas.


Lilyka Boutique
Image via the Marché Bonsecours website


My most heavenly shopping experience was the Papeterie Casse-Noisette. I was so enchanted by its windows each time we passed it, night and day, that I didn't think to photograph it. Fortunately, Vivek of THE NEW VIVEK DOT COM kindly emailed me a larger version of the perfect Papeterie Casse-Noisette capture he'd posted with his Yelp review. He permitted me to reproduce it here. The shop really was this dense and beautiful with paper and art supplies. Moreso even -- there's only so much a single lens angle can capture. I was in quiet ecstasy, and my husband was patient as I made my selections.


Papeterie Casse-Noisette
Image courtesy of Vivek S.


I would return to Montreal with deep pleasure -- but I'd learn more about public transportation and taxis, I'd budget better for the 15% sales tax, and I would go wild photographing the Papeterie Casse-Noisette if I were permitted.


Sarah's wearing: Leather jacket, BB Dakota. Grey paisley tee, Danskin. Black pencil skirt, Kasper. Silver dangle earrings, hand-me-alongs. Silver and pearl peapod necklace, gift from husband via Red Envelope. Black Wedgwood tablet necklace and ring, gift from parents. Sunglasses, Target. Black tights, We Love Colors. Purse, Coccinelle. Metallic flats, Børn's Molly.

6 comments:

  1. Almost makes me wish to travel again one of these days. Mostly, I think I've traveled enough in my lifetime.
    EAC

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    1. I've envied your diverse travel locales, but I know it can be an exhausting process. I find that travel experiences glow more warmly in the memory than when one is actually doing them.

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  2. Gorgeous photography, lovely writing...I feel like I'm taking a bit of a vacation each time I read your blog posts.

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    1. Thank you, Meshel! I'm so glad I could share a bit of the vacation sensation. I do it for myself, too, so I can dip in from time to time when life's feeling too mundane.

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  3. A delicious diversion!! I love Montreal. I lived in Vermont for a number of years and Montreal was the place to go when you'd had enough of cows and country (although beautiful). I'm bookmarking this post because I know I'd love the place where you stayed. My birthday's in March...although I'd go a little later in the season! :-)

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    1. Thank you for coming by, Jean! I envy your more-than-once visits to Montreal. I'm not sure when I'll manage it again, but I'd sure like to -- to spend more time in that paper shop, if anything. Enjoy your birthday visit, and I hope you like the Passants du Sans Soucy!

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