01 of 08
Petite Patrie - A Gem of a Neighborhood
Rosemont-Petite Patrie, a relatively understated borough, is coming out of the shadows. Attracting former Plateau and Mile End residents relocating in response to increased gentrification, the borough boasts affordable rent, an increasingly vibrant community and its image is revitalizing day by day.
Those considering a relocation to this neighborhood should be aware that speaking French is a must in these parts. Little Italy is more bilingual than the rest of Rosemont-Petite Patrie but it is still vital to be able to understand and speak at least basic French to get around.
Well-known for its east side, housing Montreal's internationally acclaimed Botanical Garden, Olympic Village, Insectarium and Promenade Masson, today we'll be exploring the other side, better known as Petite Patrie.
This walking tour starts at the corner of Châteaubriand Avenue and Beaubien Street. If you're taking the subway, be sure to exit at Beaubien Metro. Most importantly, be ready to walk because there's a fair deal of food to eat along the way.
First stop: Café Coyote at the corner of Beaubien Street and Châteaubriand Avenue.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Petite Patrie Walking Tour - Cafe Coyote and Boulangerie SamosStart today's trek with Café Coyote and their eggs Benedict breakfasts, ranging from classic ham to more "exotic" combos such as asparagus and goat cheese. Take it from a Benedict buff, this cutesy café keeps the yolks runny and the prices are easy on the wallet.
Next, take a right when exiting Coyote, walking west on Beaubien, until you reach De Gaspé Avenue where you'll find Boulangerie Samos. Beware the maple donuts in the window for if you try one you might as well kiss non-Samos donuts goodbye. Its only rival? The other Samos bakery located on the Plateau. Get some fluffy Portuguese buns to go for the sake of good taste and continue on Beaubien. Soon you'll pass by Barberito's old world barber pole, the first sure sign that you're entering the realm of Little Italy, a small neighborhood at the far west corner of Petite Patrie.
751 Beaubien East
Next stop: Boulangerie Marguerita at the corner of Beaubien and Clark.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Petite Patrie Walking Tour - Boulangerie Marguerita
What would a tour of Little Italy be without a little starch? One bite of one of the best pizzas in Montreal—the pizza rossa is so good it doesn't actually need toppings—will be enough to convince you why Boulangerie Marguerita has been baking them since 1910. Make sure you get there before 2 p.m., even during weekdays, because Marguerita is notorious for running out of goodies—fast. Buy what you can and then backtrack one block on Beaubien until you reach St. Laurent Boulevard. Then, turn left for some old world coffee!
Next stop: Caffé Italia at corner of St. Laurent and Dante.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Petite Patrie Walking Tour - Caffe ItaliaYou can't get more Italian than Caffé Italia. Taste the old world in Italia's authentic espresso and cappucino. The best part? No pretension here, just good coffee. Enjoy the no-frills atmosphere and linger a bit or get your espressos to go, exiting to your left and continuing up St. Laurent for another four blocks, turning right on Jean-Talon.
6840 St. Laurent
Next stop: Jean-Talon Market near Jean-Talon and Casgrain.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Petite Patrie Walking Tour - Jean-Talon Market
Finishing up the trek on St. Laurent, turn right on Jean-Talon for a couple of blocks until you reach Casgrain. Turn right again and within a few seconds you'll reach a multicultural haven of fresh produce: the Jean-Talon Market. Before going inside the main building, check out some of the exterior boutiques such as Aliments Merci, a personal favorite of mine and great for vegetarians, vegans, sprout growers and anyone looking for a one-stop dried health food store. And the spices are very affordable: $5 for three varieties.
Enter the main building and discover an assortment of boutiques selling everything from raw milk cheeses -where else can you find award-winning sheep feta seasoned with bay leaf- to hot pepper chocolate truffles that defy the imagination. Be sure to try the homegrown tomatoes. They're free for the tasting.
Next stop: Plaza St. Hubert starting at the corner of Jean-Talon and St. Hubert.
7070 Henri-Julien St.
MAPContinue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Petite Patrie Walking Tour - Plaza St. Hubert
Where else can you find wedding dresses and exotic dancer wear on the same block? One part gaudy, one part hidden gem, the Plaza St. Hubert is easily the most eccentric shopping destination in Montreal. With a green-trimmed canopy stretched over four blocks, from Jean-Talon to Bellechasse, you can shop rain or shine without going into a mall or hiding underground. View map.
Next stop: Nacho Libre on Beaubien at the corner of Louis-Hébert Avenue.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Petite Patrie Walking Tour - Nacho Libre Taco Bar
All this walking can work up a thirst so why not come full circle and give it a rest? Finish off the Plaza a block early and turn left, back on Beaubien, and you should see Nacho Libre (formerly Quartier Général as in the photo above, until it changed names in September 2008), the district's local bar, by the time you reach St. André Street. In the summer, the glass wall is more of a retractable garage door so patrons can have feel the wind in their hair terrace-style and do some people watching without actually leaving the bar. A casual place to hang out with friends or after a day of shopping, order one of Nacho Libre's fast food Mexican dishes or try one of its many tequilas.
It's been a long day. If you have some energy left, how about cheating a little bit and hop on the 18 Bus for the last leg of our "walking" tour.
913 Beaubien East
Last stop: Cinéma Beaubien at the corner of Beaubien and Louis-Hébert Avenue.
February 27, 2014 UPDATE: readers should be aware of a recent incident involving Nacho Libre using the topics of rape and domestic abuse in the context of humor. One example was of a social media manager publishing the following Facebook status: "I like my violence like I like my beer: domestic." The situation caused a local media firestorm and sparked a debate on whether humor depicting violence against women is harmless and fun or creates an environment that condones and normalizes such violence, gender violence which is statistically rampant across cultures and socioeconomic groups. Management subsequently apologized for that incident as well as another incident surrounding the bar's promotion of a pick-up line involving chloroform, also delivered in the context of a joke.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Petite Patrie Walking Tour - Cinema BeaubienAsk the bus driver to let you off at the corner of Beaubien and Louis-Hébert Avenue. A unique repertory movie theatre, Cinéma Beaubien is a non-profit organization geared towards the community. Showing movies exclusively in French, Cinéma Beaubien is focused on promoting international works as well as our own renowned Quebec film milieu. So brush up on your French and enjoy a nice alternative to the usual Hollywood fare. When you're done, hop back on the 18 Bus going west and get off where you started, at Metro Beaubien.
Hope you enjoyed the tour!
2396 Beaubien East