Monday, September 14, 2009

I <3 Montreal Theme Week: A Walk on The Plateau

Just north of downtown, and east of the Mountain is an area known as the Plateau. The eastern side of it is predominantly French, the western part (moving towards the Mountain) historically anglo or bilingual Jewish. It's a fabulous merging of lively, old-world cultures - and new urban sensibilities - which, for decades, has led to innovation in music, art, literature, fashion and food. Mordecai Richler was from this area, as is Michel Tremblay. Both novelists, one anglo and Jewish, the other French and Catholic, have written uniquely and from their own cultural perspectives about, effectively, the same square mile. I can't say how much I love that.

When you walk along St. Laurent, a main thoroughfare actually known as "The Main", English and French cohere seamlessly. People move from language to language, from deli (some of the best in the world - some say better than in New York, gasp!) to bistro, from the underground to the mainstream. It's got a kind of energy I've rarely experienced anywhere else. And when you add in Quebec's distinct brand of ice-cold-freezing-scary winter, it gets somehow even more lively. It's like Montrealers, born or bred, are wired to enjoy every layer of human existence. When you visit Montreal, you fall into the mix.

We went to L'Express for dinner on a Saturday evening. It's institutional bistro (for want of a better way of putting it), always packed. There's no sign out front (though I seem to remember there is an inlay in the cement saying "L'Express"). I guess you either know it's there or you don't.

Before we ate, we took a little walk...

Everywhere you go, you will see people eating on tiny balconies. They take the weather while it's good here.

Being a row-house resident, I am always partial to a street like this...

Et voila, L'Express!

Cool lamp I liked at a design shop up the block.


  1. Yep it does get cold there!
    Lovely insight and info plus fab light.
    BTW Mrs Fashion is back she emailed me this morning!!

  2. Love this tour through Montreal. The row houses are charming. The tiny patios are cute but they must make you giddy to have your gorgeous garden/pergola. No?

  3. Great shots. I love Montreal and I haven't even been there yet!

  4. Kate: Thanks for the update! Just went and put her back into my Reader. Fantastic.

    Bel: It's true that I am very grateful for my (relatively) huge space. But, imagine if I had my backyard in fancy-town Montreal :-)

    Monkey: You should SO go there. It really is a great town.

  5. WTF, row houses come with complimentary porches? xx

  6. I had one of those tiny balcomies and a curly outdoor staircase when I lived in Mtl. Unfortunately, unwanted "visitors" would climb it.

    Love the pic of L'Express, one of my faves . . . Vive les frites!

  7. One of the (many, many) things I love about your blog is these little jaunts into various parts of Canada, places I'd never, ever see if you didn't take the time to show them to me. Thank you.

  8. Oh it has been so many years since I have been to Montreal. Thank you for the lovely photos. I think the old New York Jewish community, and the delicatessens as well, all paid homage to Montreal, or at least that is the impression I got from my spouse.

  9. wish I was there with you... so stylish.

  10. Hammie: I know!

    Miss C: I can imagine that might have been a problem. Yes, long live the frites!!

    Becky: Thanks!

    Enc: I so hope you can come here and visit for yourself. But in the meanwhile, I am happy to perform this vital service :-)

    Mardel: Is your husband from Mtl?? People often say that Mtl is very like NY - not derivative but almost prototypical.

    Songy: Me too! Thanks.