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Chill out, chow down and get your festival groove on in Montreal

June 7, 2011
By Jordan Wright
Special to The Washington Examiner

Old Montreal and Old Port of Montreal. Photo Tourisme Montreal

Old Montreal and Old Port of Montreal. Photo Tourisme Montreal

Bordered by the St. LaurentRiver, Montreal is a French-speaking food- and culture-obsessed city, with a progressive, hip vibe.  It boasts more than 90 festivals to choose from each year and is only about an hour and a half flight from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Air Canada.

Chill Out at Le St-Martin HotelParticulier Downtown, a charmerof a boutique hotel in the downtownarea. It’s great for shopping andnightlife and a short hop to the historicsection of Old Montreal. Info:980 De Maisonneuve Blvd. Ouest.514-843-3000.

Get your groove on at the Montreal Jazz Fest from June 25 until July 4 with hot headliners Abby Lincoln, Robert Plant, Diana Kralland more playing at venues around the city. Other ticketed shows like bossa nova faves Marinda + Solari perform on the Bateau Mouche,where you can enjoy dinner and anighttime cruise at the same time. Or catch the throwback group Return to the Future, starring Chick Corea, Jean Luc Ponty and Stanley Clarke as they revisit the classics. Info:

In the Old City, stroll through the open-air art gallery featuring more than 100 exhibitors, 40 street performers and multimedia at the Festival International Montreal en Arts on Sainte-Catherine Street.  Info: June 29 to July 3.

The International Fireworks Competition dazzles on Saturdays and a few Wednesdays from June 25 to July 30. The spectacular “pyromusical” displays are hosted by eight countries, with a Beatles tribute on the final day. Held at La Ronde, a Six Flags amusement park, on the Ile Sainte Helene. Info: For tickets and park information, visit

Cirque du Soleil, whose headquarters are in Montreal, presents Totem, a new show about the evolutionary progress of mankind, from June 16 to July 31 under the Grand Chapiteau at the Old Port. Info: For tickets visit

Festival International de Jazz de Montreal

Festival International de Jazz de Montreal

Chow down at Schwartz’s Deli.Fans line up for this Montreal institution’s daily-smoked meat sandwiches and steaks. Order a brisket sandwich with a side of half-sour pickles and fries downed with a Cott’s Black Cherry soda.Info: 3895 Saint-Laurent Blvd.

The chic, sleek Restaurant Europea,voted 2010’s restaurant of the year by the Guide Debeur, is helmed by acclaimed chef Jerome Ferrer, who sources Quebecois products for his elegant cuisine. Choose the chef’s tasting menu starting with creamy lobster cappucino and followed by nine more inventive courses. Info: 1227 de la Montaigne. 514-398-9229.

Visit the Marche Jean-Talon food market and you’ll find an astounding array of meat, local cheeses, chocolates, breads, luscious pastries and fresh produce purveyors as well as nine cafes to relax in.  Titillate your senses at Olives & Epices with the finest herbs, spices and olive oils. Across the square the casual Soupe Soup offers dozens of delicious rustic-style soups daily.  Info: 7020 Rue Casgrain.

Verses Restaurant showcases French contemporary cuisine at the Hotel Nelligan in the Old Quarter.  Stand outs include the Smoked Bison Tartare with red berry syrup, Porc Nagano with De Puy lentils, potato gnocchi and truffle carpaccio. Get your sweet fix with the lovely Vacherin, a meringue made with dried flowers and filled with tea-infused citrusy sorbets. Finish with cocktails on the rooftop bar overlooking the Old Port and Notre Dame Basilica. Info: 100 Saint-PaulSt. West. 514-788-4000.

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