Category Archives: Canada

Montreal’s festive holiday markets (Marché de Noël)

ice sculptureThe weeks leading up to Christmas are a fantastic time to explore downtown Montreal. Having recently spent three months living near Old Montreal, I was excited to travel back this week to visit the Christmas markets, or Marché de Noël as they are known in Quebec.

Today while walking over to Rue Ste-Catherine for a little retail therapy, I came across a pop up Marché de Noël in the square above Place Ville Marie, complete with Christmas trees, ice sculpture, and scattered comfortable Adirondack chairs covered in cozy (faux) fur throws.

fur accoutrement

Place Ville Marie is an underground shopping mall connected to the underground city, located across the street from the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel. The Fairmont is the site of the Beaver Club, and many famous celebrity guests have stayed there.  Probably the most celebrated of all, John Lennon, held his ‘bed-in’ here in 1969, where the song Give Peace a Chance was written and recorded. As well, the Fairmont has a unique gift shop worth exploring and the BEST high tea, but that’s another story.

Back to the Marché…one of my favorite pâtisserie/boulangeries – bar à beurre, has a booth with samples of their yummy cookies and candies, and mason jars of the same for sale as gifts, and their signature shopping bags.  bar à beurre literally translates to butter bar…hmmm, no wonder their cupcakes and cookies are so wonderful.

bread

There is a artisanal bread booth, and a cheese and sausages booth, perfect for gift baskets…walk faster you little weight watcher!

les chocolats de chloe

But alas, I was caught up at the chocolate booth, Les Chocolats de Chloé.  I met lovely Chloé herself, luring in customers with her wonderful cocoa treats.  I guess a few bars for stocking stuffers would be okay…if I just can forget they are packed in the suitcase.

raplapla

Raplapla sells handmade dolls and animals to cuddle…so soft, and they have a doll hospital to repair your treasures.

Boucle & Papier  papeterie boutique had many fun gifts…. artisan stationary and labels and soft little handmade zipper bags…oh my. So many cute things.

relax

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love that the Christmas markets boast artisanal wares and unique gifts from boutiques, and am looking forward to treasure hunting tomorrow.

Joyeux Noël!  C’est tout! 

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Sucrerie de la Montagne: Sugar Shack Supreme

16 fireplaceVacationing for a few months in Montreal, we plan to make the most of every festival, concert or attraction the city has to offer. With Montreal as our home base, there are many beautiful towns we can drive to in Quebec or Ontario within a few hours, and I would love to share those with you.

It’s certainly a change to live in the city and to be able to walk everywhere or hop the metro, after spending most of our lives jumping in the car to drive to work, shopping, or for a coffee. Living downtown, we are getting more exercise and that’s great, and hopefully a justifiable excuse to try a lot of local Québécois specialities…over and over again.

So yesterday, John offered a field trip in the car. Yes! Excited as a Jack Russell when he hears the leash, I immediately responded in the affirmative.  John had planned a surprise trip to a historic Québécois sugar shack. I imagined a family entertainment type maple syrup tapping activity, filled with kids, pumpkins and caramel apples. Aux contraire. This French Canadian maple grove is so much more. Sucrerie de la Montagne is about an hours drive west of downtown Montreal near Rigaud, Quebec. The literal translation is candy mountain so I knew good things were in store.

Per their advertisement, La Sucrerie is designated an official “Site du Patrimoine Québécois” or Québec Heritage site.  The sugar shack is located in the middle of a 120-acre forest of century-old maples atop Mont Rigaud and transports visitors back in time to a momentary glimpse of life as it was for Québec and Canadian pioneers.

Although the Sucrerie de la Montagne sign was missing at the road, we knew we had arrived when we saw two huge Belgian horses being harnessed to a wagon.

2 charming cabin

Walking up the main path towards delicious smoky fire smells, we passed a number of rustic wooden cabins that we later found were rentable accommodations, as well as a few cabins designated as general store, sucrerie and boulangerie. Things were looking even better!

4 caban

 

3 caban

Soon we found ourselves in front of a smokey fire pit across from the main barn. I can imagine it packed with visitors on a crisp afternoon, sitting around the fire drinking hot toddies and watching the brilliant leaves fall.

1 Sucrerie

We explored the outbuildings and met the baker in the boulangerie as he was getting ready to fire up the wood stoves to bake fresh country bread. Once inside the main barn, we found ourselves in a homey reception area filled with authentic wood stoves, a huge rustic bar, and old family photos. We were greeted by Stefan, son of Pierre Faucher. Stefan, like his father, has impressive hair and beard, and dresses as a traditional Québécois pioneer. He is friendly, attentive and an all around fantastic host, checking each table numerous times to make sure diners are happy and well fed, making suggestions, and later providing entertainment and tours.

The first order of business for us was lunch. The Sucrerie offers a traditional hearty Québécois menu. We had not fasted in preparation or cut a few cords of wood to work up a lumberjack’s appetite, so we chose a few items à la carte at Stefan’s suggestion.  We enjoyed the Mountaineer’s pea soup, fresh bread, pancakes (similar to crepes and perfect for soaking up their thick maple syrup), crispy back bacon, maple bière…and SUGAR pie – oh my!  Everything we had was fresh, delicious and mighty tasty. We know that we will be back to try the rest of the menu. It was just that good.

7 pea soup

8 crispee

9 bread

11 maple biere

10 pancakes

12 sugar pie

6 l'erable

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Montreal 2007

In July 2007 we took a mini-vacation with Jon, Drew, Ryan & Jenny to Montreal. We had a fantastic 4 days with the family, the weekend after 4th of July. We stayed in Old Montreal at our favorite Marriott, had many lattes & date bars at the Second Cup, & a few beers on the square.

We took a jet boat ride on the LaChine Canal. This is a before photo – before we got very WET. Kathy almost drowned & spent most of the ride face down avoiding getting whacked in the face with waves…but it was great fun.

Jon at the harbour. There was a huge guitar convention that weekend, & we left Jon to take a couple seminars while we shopped.

Jon & Drew with The Talking Ladies
in the streets of old Montreal.

Drew at the Bell Centre gift shop. We took a private tour on Sunday & were able to sneak a peek at the Canadiens that were there for a team meeting.

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