Despite what your instincts may tell you, Montréal is best enjoyed in the outdoors, no matter what the thermostat says. The city offers myriad activities that will leave onewith a new appreciation for frosty air and snow-blanketed pavement. Start in Old Montréal—or the Old Port, as locals call it—where walking the cobblestone streets lined with beautiful traditional stone buildings is akin to taking an inspiring journey through time. Head down to the waterfront for some outdoor ice skating at the Patinoire du Vieux-Port and warm up afterwards in one of the Grande Roue de Montréal’s temperature-controlled gondolas, located just a few steps from the rink. It’s the largest ferris wheel in Canada, boasting stunning 360 degree views of the city. If you’re craving downtime, make your way up the street to Bota Bota, a floating spa built inside an old river ferry. Revel in the panoramic landscape as you drift into a restful state, and make sure to spot the iconic Habitat 67 apartment complex built for the Expo 67 World Fair in 1967. Grab a coffee at Tommy Café and cap off the day by sauntering over to Maison Pépin, a beautiful boutique with a curated array of home goods and cool threads, complete with a bakery in the back to satisfy all your cravings.
Explore other neighborhoods like the Mile End, a culturally rich section where old school establishments rub elbows with the new guard. It’s eclectic, diverse, creative, and home to the best bagel in the world—St-Viateur Bagel. While you’re walking around, get your caffeine fix at another Montréal institution, Café Olimpico, pop into Clark Street Mercantile for some shopping, and grab a quick bite at delicious eatery Larrys. Roam the streets to take in the city’s unmistakable architectural footprint: rows of charming multiplexes with outdoor staircases that often soar three stories. Make your way back through the Mount Royal mountain and make a pit stop on the Belvédère Camillien-Houde for a bird’s eye view of the island.
Location, location, location. It’s what you want in a winter escape accommodation. That, and an unpretentious luxe experience that can supply a delicious cocktail. You’ll find all this and more at Hôtel William Gray, which occupies prime real estate in the heart of Old Montréal.
For an indulgent experience, stay at the Four Seasons and stop into the chic Marcus Lounge + Bar for a cocktail.
Maybe it’s the French spirit, maybe it’s the need to keep warm during the big chill. Whatever the reason, know that people eat very well in Montréal. Exceptional gastronomy abounds and propositions range from inventive market fare to exotic cuisines. For an outstanding dinner, head to Tuck Shop in the St-Henri section, a cozy and refined neighborhood restaurant serving a sublime seasonal menu that changes almost daily. The expertly curated wine list is an oenophile’s dream while those with a sweet tooth will also be served—desserts are homemade by chef Theo Lerikos’ mom.
For another casual fine dining experience, nab a reservation at Damas, a Syrian restaurant delivering incredible flavors in a vibrant atmosphere. From the wine list to every single à la carte dish, prepare to be transported.
If you’re in the mood for lighter fare while you sip, look no further than Bar Loïc, a casual wine bar with a list focused on natural and biodynamic vintages and small bites that pack a big punch. For a perennial lunch classic that has yet to be dethroned as the city’s best midday table, visit Olive et Gourmando in the Old Port. You can order a remarkable coffee and pastry, but the full menu—comprised of elevated takes on simple things like sandwiches and quiches—will make you want to come back every day to sample it all.
HOW TO WEAR IT
Montréal has an intangible allure and bon vivant spirit, a sentiment personified by Creed’s Silver Mountain Water.. While the brisk winter climate is ideally suited to the fragrance thanks to its fresh yet warm notes of bergamot and mandarin, it also hints at indulgent hedonism with spicy sandalwood and intoxicating musk. And what could be better than that on a winter holiday? Spritz it on neck, wrists, and inside your tuque (the Fench-Canadian term for beanie) as you explore and regale in the endless pleasures the Québécois metropolis has to offer. Montréal’s one-of-a-kind character lends itself perfectly to the scent’s unique energy: you’ll feel overcome with impalpable delight once wearing it, much like the headspace you’ll find yourself in while strolling the streets, where for a brief moment you’ll forget in which continent, and maybe even what century you’re in. A city and a scent that are both individual, timeless, and evergreen.
Click here to discover Silver Mountain Water
Images and words by Hélène Heath