Tuan Trieu-Hoang, 66, was born in Saigon, Vietnam. He came to Montréal 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 ten years.
Bagel Saint-Viateur, on Mont-Royal Street. First off, I have to say that Montréal bagels are the best in the world! I love the relaxed ambiance of the café. I go there at six o’clock in the morning, 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 café is located in the borough of Plateau Mont-Royal, one of the hippest and trendiest parts of Montréal.
My top tourist tip
Old Montréal 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 is an archaeologist’s dream. Also, a must-see: Notre-Dame Basilica a replica of Notre-Dame de Paris. Don’t miss the wonderful Bonsecours 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 Center and all kinds of interesting things to see and do.
Not everyone knows that
The train bound for Deux-Montagnes, a suburb outside the city, 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, but now-extinct Montréal melon and led to the establishment of the affluent Town of Mount Royal, now a borough of Montréal.
My favourite spot
Riding my bike on the path between Old Montréal 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
There are tons of festivals in Montréal! But the one I like the most is the International Fireworks Competition. My favourite place to observe them is on top of the Jacques-Cartier bridge (that spans between the metropolis and the South Shore), closed off for the occasion. That in itself is a real trip! Winter is a good time to visit. Montréal 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 des Castors (Beaver Lake), the artificial lake, sledding on toboggans or inner tubes and even skiing.
Originally published by The Big Issue (UK)
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