To the freshly shipwrecked outsider, the geographical arrangement of Montreal’s indigenous peoples may seem mysterious and intimidating. Let this be your guide.
A predominantly residential area where project housing isn’t far removed from blocks of luxury condos. The police shooting of Freddy Villanueva last month and the riot that ensued recently threw the neighborhood into the spotlight.
Don’t go to Little Italy only for homemade pasta and canoli – the neighbourhood will delight you for a lot longer than it takes to scarf down the two and a slice of portobello pizza. Little Italy is the only place in the city where you can find novelties like a thriving fig tree and a fresco painting of Mussolini. The portrait of the fascist leader is in the church of Our Lady of Defense on Dante Street. Nursed through the winter in the basement of its loving caretakers, the fig tree is by the Jean Talon Market, Montreal’s most vibrant outdoor grocery store. Over the last 15 years, the presence of Italian vendors at the market has decreased, making room for Arabic, Indian, French, and Moroccan stalls.
A neighbourhood on the brink of gentrification. Since rent is cheap, the area is rife with students and artists, but its rough charm stays front and center – even if there’s now organic, vegetarian food offered in the area.
Catch a live show at the Corona Theater (2190 Notre Dame O.), where the stunning interior often rivals the performance. The Corona’s exquisitely painted walls and ceilings make it easy to imagine its days as a silent movie theater in the early 1900s.
The City of Westmount is an affluent neighbourhood where the mansions soar almost as high as the grocery prices. Find pretty boutiques selling fierce eyewear and Venice Beach-worthy swimsuits on Sherbrooke O. between Claremont and Victoria. The stretch is also home to Montreal’s only Ugg boutique. The city’s well-groomed park, library, and conservatory are well worth devoting an afternoon to.
When you fly out of the Dorval airport, take a look at the amount of backyard pools marking the landscape. This is suburbia.
MacDonald Campus students should stay west long enough to grab an after-school pint at Annie’s (76 St. Anne), a classic suburban bar in St. Anne de Bellevue.
Notre Dame de Grace
Notre Dame de Grace, also called NDG, is one of Montreal’s most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods, with residents from across Asia, Italy, and the West Indies.
Sherbrooke West makes the competition between a Tae Kwon Do gym and a Yoga studio look harmonious. You can smell the Ponki doughnuts baking at Polish Boulangerie Wawel from the Indian restaurants serving daal down the street.
Further south, Italian grandparents proudly tend to fruit trees and vegetable gardens on side streets off of industrial St. Jacques and Upper Lachine. Scenes from the 2006 Quebec film Bon Cop Bad Cop were filmed at one of the many motels that line the strip, where you can rent a room for an hour. Or more.