Our guide this week: Tuan Trieu-Hoang, 66, was born in Saigon, Vietnam. He came to Montreal at the age of 19. He knows the city well and is resourceful at digging up free tickets for shows, events, expositions and a wide variety of cultural activities. Tuan has been a vendor of street paper L’Itinéraire for 10 years
St-Viateur Bagel, Mont-Royal Street
First off, I have to say that Montreal bagels are the best in the world! I love the relaxed ambience of the cafe. I go there at 6am, drink my coffee and have a bagel with cream cheese and cretons (a typical Québécois meat pâté). It’s a great way to start my day, there are few customers and the servers know that at that time people aren’t quite awake. The cafe is located in the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal, one of the hippest and trendiest parts of Montreal.
My top tourist tip
Old Montreal is the place to go. When you go you have the impression of going back 375 years in time to the founding of the city. The fortifications in Pointe-à-Callière museum are an archaeologist’s dream. Also a must-see: Notre-Dame Basilica, a replica of Notre-Dame de Paris. Don’t miss the wonderful Notre-Dame-De-Bon-Secours chapel dedicated to sailors. Located on the waterfront, called the Old Port, there are great ships docked there, and a promenade that gives you access to the Science Centre and all kinds of interesting things to see and do.
Not everyone knows about
The train bound for Deux-Montagnes
On its way to the suburb outside the city it passes through a tunnel that runs under Mont-Royal, the mountain that sits right in the middle of the city. It was dug by workers between 1912 and 1914 and was ultimately finished in 1918 after the First World War. The development of the railroad was made possible by buying up farms that grew the famous Montreal melon and led to the establishment of the affluent town of Mount Royal, now a borough of Montreal.
My favourite spot
I love riding my bike on the path between Old Montreal all along the Lachine Canal, crossing the locks over to the borough of Lachine. There are a lot of historic sites along the way and the landscape is just beautiful. It’s calm and a really great occasion to relax and meditate. It is very safe, night and day. If you continue west, there are even rapids where surfers can ride the waves!
Best time to visit
Winter is a good time to visit. Montreal covered in snow is quite lovely. We have the mountain, Mont-Royal, set right in the middle of the city. You can take a city bus there, and go ice skating on Lac aux Castors (Beaver Lake), the artificial lake, sledding on toboggans or inner tubes and even skiing. Throughout the year there are tons of festivals in Montreal. But the one I like the most is the International Fireworks Competition between July and August. My favourite place to observe them is on top of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge (that spans between the metropolis and the south shore), which is closed off for the occasion. That in itself is a real trip!
Illustration: Taaryn Brench