Detailed description (Plateau Mont-Royal)
The plateau is a large, mostly residential, district that as a lot of interesting neighbourhood restaurants and cafés. The Plateau is a very popular place to live or just hang out, I don't think you can mention Montreal withouth talking about the Plateau (it certainly grabs a lot of media attention). It started out at first as a working class neighbourhood (and like other districts, there were many small villages and cities in that area that merged with Montreal at the turn of the century) but in the 60's and 70's it became the place where many writers, singers and artists lived and worked. For this reason, the Plateau has been the main character in numerous songs, novels and movies, including Michel Tremblay and Yves Beauchemin's work. One of its obvious characteristic is that most appartement buildings are duplexes or triplexes (two or three stories high) and have outside stairs to the second floor (it's architectural trait of a lot of Montreal houses). Although you can find those in many other districts, there are mainly associated with the Plateau. This district is also the most densely populated district in Canada and, luckily, the district with the least number of cars in north america (bicycles are the prefered mode of transportation).
The Plateau is a great place for interesting restaurants and cafés as well as for shopping. It's main commercial streets are St-Denis street north of Roy street, Mont-Royal ave. and St-Laurent blvd. (but you could say that St-Laurent blvd. is a neighbourhood in itself).There are guided tours every sunday morning organized by the district's tourism office starting from the Mont-Royal metro station at around 10:00am (call (514) 848-0099 for more information or visit their web site).
The Plateau can be divided in three sections :
- the Mile-End district (in the north-west section of the Plateau) the neighbourhood featured in Mordicai Richler's novels and some fillms including "Leolo" and "Lies My Father Told Me". The Mile-End is technically part of the Plateau but it is quite different. It is more ethnically diverse, with an important hassidic community to the north-east (Jeanne-Mance and Esplanade streets north of Fairmount) and portuguese community (see St-Louis district). It is also influenced by the municipality of Outremont to the west since there are not many stores and no bars there so most people from Outremont shop and hangout in the western section of the Mile-End (some realtors selling condos and houses in this section describe it as "Outremont-adjacent"). The Mile-End's main streets are Bernard street (for cafes like Romolo cafe or le Futenbulle and a new restaurant called Brasileirinho), St-Viateur (for St-Viateur Bagel, Zorba or Arahova's souvlakis, many small restaurants like Découvrir le Sénégal, Le Jardin du Curry, etc and new terrasses and upscale food shops, it would seem that St-Viateur has become very -too? - popular recently), St-Laurent blvd and its cluster of about a dozen restaurants and other stores between Laurier and St-Viateur streets), du Parc ave. with its persian carpet stores and authentic greek restaurants (Milos, Psarotaverna du Symporium, Mythos Ouzeri, Rodos, etc). P.S. the south-west section of the Mile-End district, between Mont-Royal ave. and St-Joseph blvd., was also known as the Annex.
- the Plateau itself to to east (a good way to visit that part of the district is by using the bicycle path that goes from the corner of Cherrier and Berri streets then goes east to the Lafontaine park then north along Brébeuf and Christophe-Colomb to Laurier street). There's not much to see north-east of the corner of St-Joseph blvd. and St-Denis street, except for some small farm houses that seem to be the remnants of a small village around Berri street just north of Laurier street. The most interesting section are the streets around or close to the Lafontaine park (Mentana, Marie-Anne, Brébeuf, Chambord, etc). The main commercial streets are St-Denis street (gift shops and decorative object stores, lot's of restaurants and cafes, etc) and Mont-Royal ave. (it used to be a neighbourhood commercial street with everything-for-a-dollar stores and used record stores but it has changed the past few years, there are a lot more restaurants, cafes and upscale food stores).
- the St-Jean-Baptiste and St-Louis districts, a "transition" zone between the the latin quarter, the Mile-End (south east section of the Plateau) and the rest of the Plateau. It is quite varied in every sense since it takes from each neighbouring district. The portuguese community has many stores and cultural institutions in the north-western part of St-Jean-Baptiste (see Mile-End). The community's main church is on the corner of St-Urbain and Rachel and the "Parc du Portugal" is on the corner of Marie-Anne and St-Laurent blvd. Many portuguese restaurants and stores can be found around these places. Other well known spots are Duluth street and on St-Laurent blvd., the Balattou (live african and world beat music dance club) and Schwartz's deli (smoked meat).
- I could add St-Laurent blvd. as a district in itself because of its distinctive features and importance. While St-Laurent was considered to separate the french community to the east and english community to the west (that line is now quite blurred), St-Laurent blvd. and its surroundings could be considered to be the center of an "international" zone between those two sections.
- Surrounding streets :
- Sherbrooke to the south
- Van Horne and Rosemont blvd. to the north
- Frontenac to the east
- Hutchison to the west
- Metro stations :