Cobblestone streets, international cuisine, and intimate jazz clubs. Canada’s French-speaking Montreal is the next best thing to traveling to Europe. A popular time to visit is during the International Jazz Festival from June 26 to July 6. This year, American greats like Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, and Diana Ross will perform, as well as musicians from Canada, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.
Want to walk around like you own the place? We asked the Chef-Concierge Alain Ethier at Hotel le Saint-Sulpice, one of our favorite boutique hotels in Old Montreal, to give us the insider’s guide on where to go for good eats, trendy nightlife, and late-night jam sessions.
How long have you been a concierge at Le Saint-Sulpice?
I was Assistant Chef-Concierge at Le Saint-Sulpice Hotel for five years and recently promoted to Chef-Concierge. I’ve been a member of Les Clefs d’Or for 12 years now, an international association of hotel concierges that promotes excellence and professionalism in customer service.
Why should a tourist stay at Le Saint-Sulpice during the Jazz Festival?
Le Saint-Sulpice offers comfort, luxury and warm, personalized service. It is perfectly located in the heart of Old Montreal, at the corner of vibrant Saint-Paul Street, right behind the Notre-Dame Basilica and a few steps from the Old Port’s promenade. Great museums and fine restaurants are nearby, but most importantly, the hotel is a 10-minute walk from the site of the Jazz Festival! You can’t beat that!
What is you favorite restaurant in Old Montreal?
Club Chasse et Peche, owned by chef Claude Pelletier and Manager Hubert Marsolais, is one of the best restaurants in Montreal. The flavors of the dishes and the freshness of ingredients are what impress me the most, as well as the friendly-yet-professional and attentive service from all of the staff. My favorite dishes are the seared scallops with fennel purée and the braised piglet risotto with foie gras shavings.
Please tell us where to go for good food and drinks:
Europea with chef Jérôme Ferrer. The 10-course tasting experience is a feast for all senses!
La Champagnerie for an evening of fun, beautiful people and bubbles. How often do you have the chance to saber a bottle of champagne in a bar?!
Poutine (Montreal’s flashy version of gravy cheese fries):
La Banquise for the variety and because it’s open 24 hours a day; Patati-Patata, the smallest restaurant in Montréal; La Cabane with its kitchen open until 2 am; and Méchant Boeuf for the Migneron cheese and pulled pork poutine.
Bonaparte for French, Da Emma for Italian, Le Sinclair for the garden dining room, Milos for seafood, and the lovers’ table at Atelier d’Argentine where you sit side-by- side facing the Old Port.
Late-night spot for drinks and food:
Leméac on Laurier Street or l’Express on Saint-Denis—best bistros in the city with great wines by the glass and their kitchens are open until 1:30 am.
Do you have a favorite place to watch live Jazz throughout the year in Montreal?
I like the ambiance and décor of the House of Jazz on Aylmer Street, and the live jazz with dinner at Restaurant Modavie on Saint-Paul Street in Old Montreal 365 days a year!
Is there a performance you are most excited about during the Jazz Festival?
I’m very curious to hear For the Record: Tarantino in Concert and the group Earth, Wind and Fire.
What tips can you give to first-time visitors in Montreal for the Jazz Festival?
Be on the lookout for the late-night jam sessions in the local bars near the festival’s site, you could be surprised to see which star shows up unexpectedly!
Drink tap water instead of bottled! We have some of the best tap water in the world and much less plastic waste is good for the environment.
For more information on the International Jazz Festival, go to: www.montrealjazzfest.com.
For more information on Le Saint-Sulpice Hotel or to book, go to www.lesaintsulpice.com.
Nubia DuVall Wilson is a contributing travel writer for LuxuriousPROTOTYPE. She is a luxury travel expert and published author of Encounters with Strangers. Learn more at www.encounterswithstrangers.com. Follow her on Twitter @NubiaWilson.