Being unapologetic tech-heads, we hit the north recently for Montreal’s digital creativity festival MUTEK. Focusing on the digital arts and music, MUTEK is utterly unparalleled in that it combines daytime panels on such topics as working with TIPTOP Modular Audio (look it up) with (very) late night showcases by high-profile DJs and the bleeding edge of new electronic acts… some very creative concepts. To wit, the final MUTEK show at the Musee d’Art Contemporain was Music For Lamps, where…there were lamps. That went on and off. And made for all kinds of freaky and dazzling effects in response to electronic music. Luckily, we had time outside of MUTEK to take in Montreal, which we decided is just as cool as any European capital on the other side of the Atlantic. Here are 10 things we love about Montreal right now.
1. The Quebec capital has always been our fave Canadian city (sorry, Ottawa), in part due to the amazing music festivals. Notable are Pop Montreal, which brings out the hip kids, and M For Montreal, which showcases the indie up-and-comers from the region.
2. The Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT) is ground zero for the city’s digerati and serves as a hub for numerous creative endeavors. We dined at the avant culinary incubator Foodlab on the 3rd floor, where carefully sourced and always organic ingredients go into everything they make, including the cocktails. Cool crowd, too.
3. On a beautiful spring or summer day, strolling the trendy L’Avenue du Mont-Royal, and hitting the street market for regional craft beers from a local vendor.
4. Handmade, Russian style donuts at the hip Chez Boris.
5. Hotel 10, with its sleek design, and stylish terrace.
6. Maybe it’s a French thing – but Montreal has a very high percentage of sexy people. A 2014 poll ranked the pulchritude of its women at #8 worldwide.
7. Montrealers love their biking. We hit up local fave Fitz and Follwell for their hip staff and insidery bike tours, and laid down tracks all over the city.
Galerie d’Art Yves Laroche image by William Sabourin
9. Exploring the hippest hood, Mile-Ex, just to the north of the last hippest hood, Mile End. We felt a bit like Anthony Bourdain, as local foodie guides Spade & Palacio escorted us to an amazingly authentic Salvadoran restaurant Resto Los Planes and through the largest food market on the continent, Marche Jean-Talon, where we quite enthusiastically partook of locally produced meats and cheeses.
10. Vieux Montreal is an amazing cross section of historical architectural styles, capped by the astonishing neo-gothic Notre Dame cathedral. For dinner, we ditched the tourists and hit up the gastronomically divine and very subterranean Le Bremner.
Want more Montreal? Check out artist David Altmejd’s city guide here.