Canada Trip Part 3: Getting Settled in Montreal, Canada

If you’re following along on our summer trip to Canada, check out the first post in this series covering the trip segment from Raleigh to Philadelphia and the second post covering our visit to New York City.  This third part of the trip report covers settling into our apartment in Montreal.

We stayed in Montreal for eight days and spent a lot of time seeing all that Montreal has to offer.  We also rented an apartment through AirBnb so that our family of five could spread out and relax when we weren’t out touring the city.

 

The Apartment

We rented a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment in the Plateau neighborhood of Montreal.  The apartment was located on Rue Fullum between Rue Rachel and Rue Sherbrooke in an apartment building that housed around 20 other apartments.

One bedroom offered a very firm queen size bed while the other bedroom (painted in bold pink) was rather large and offered three single beds which were all softer than the queen size bed in our bedroom.

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We also had a full kitchen.  The small kitchen had a small round dining table where the five of us could eat together at meal time (although we ate in shifts for many meals).  The living room contained a large couch and a recliner where four or five could sit comfortably.  The foyer by the front door offered a large cubbyhole storage system where we stowed our shoes and other gear, and we used the coat rack in the foyer as extra towel hooks (the bathroom was smallish).

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If I had to guess the age of the apartment, I would say it was 50 to 60 years old.  The place showed its age but was clean overall, and the kitchen had newer appliances and countertops than those in our own 42 year old house in Raleigh.  Since it rarely gets really hot in Montreal, there was only one window air conditioning unit which easily kept the common areas of the apartment cool throughout the day.  We mostly relied on fresh evening air to cool our bedroom, which was generally fine except for the occasional noisy reminder that we were staying in the city.

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For a total of $471 USD including tax, AirBnB fees, and the cleaning fee for the eight night stay (or $59 per night), it was an amazingly good deal.  If you’re interested in booking a spacious, inexpensive vacation rental, you can save $25 on your first reservation through AirBnB using this link.

Considering how spacious our apartment was, I think we got a great bargain.  A hotel would have been twice as expensive and feel cramped after a few days of staying in one room.  Another money-saving advantage of an apartment over a hotel room was the kitchen.

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The kitchen was well appointed with good cookware and plenty of plates, bowls, and cups (enough for two meals for five people). The host allowed us to use the spices and condiments which came in handy to finish off a few dishes. We cooked most meals at the apartment instead of dining out, and the kitchen served its purpose well with full size fridge and stove/oven.

The location was awesome. Right across the street we found a swimming pool that is free Monday through Friday (kids loved it!). On Sunday there is a small farmer’s market stand across the street as well. A block down the street is a nice playground with slides and swings and a sprayground where water shoots into the air. About a half mile (1 km) away was Mont Royal Street which had the Metro grocery store and a lot of other shops, cafes, and restaurants.

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The pool across the street from our apartment

The apartment was about 1.5 miles away from the edge of “downtown”.  Our apartment was served by multiple bus routes and it was within walking distance of the subway station.  However, we drove everywhere in the city so did not get a chance to ride on any public transit.  Free on street parking was available on both sides of the street and we always found a space within a half block of the apartment.

We didn’t have any complaints during our stay other than the internet connection.  It was rather flaky and didn’t work for the first couple of days of our stay, however our host had it fixed within one business day.  There was another brief outage near the end of our stay.

This was our first AirBnB experience.  I would summarize the apartment rental as a great value in a great location.  We could have stayed in a nicer hotel for more money, but the spaciousness of the apartment made up for the lack of luxury.  I value being able to spread out and relax more than fancy linens and daily maid service.  We also enjoyed the residential neighborhood where our apartment was located.

 

Eating in Montreal

When we set out on our five week trip, we knew we didn’t want to eat out all the time.  It’s expensive and gets old after a while.  When we planned on staying in one place for a week or more (like we did in Montreal), we chose to rent an apartment so we would have access to a kitchen where we could prepare most meals.

Grocery shopping was one of the first things we did in Montreal.  We walked a few blocks down to the Metro grocery store and loaded up on the essentials.  The grocery prices in Montreal were significantly higher than in the U.S., and especially high on chicken, pork, dairy products, and fresh produce.  The steak and seafood offerings were roughly the same price as we are used to at home in Raleigh.  So we made the sacrifice and resigned ourselves to eating steak and seafood for most of our stay in Montreal (what a rough life!).  Buying what’s cheap is just another one of our Extreme Grocery Shopping strategies we employ at home, so why not use the same strategy while on the road?

We grabbed a pack of steaks and a variety of seafood, plus some fresh fruits and veggies that were on sale.  We also found some really delicious pastries and bagels that we ate for breakfast.  I’m a sucker for exotic potato chips, and couldn’t resist the ketchup flavored chips.

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Groceries from Metro market

The next day we went to the Provigo grocery store to grab some more ingredients for meals for the rest of the week.  More steak and ground beef found it’s way into our shopping cart.  We also picked up other staples like milk, yogurt, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, and chips.

To celebrate Mrs. Root of Good’s birthday, we bought two small cakes from the bakery.  We couldn’t decide which one to get so we bought both of them.

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Groceries from Provigo market. The yellow products are “No Name” brand, Provigo’s store brand.

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Not surprisingly, the grocery stores in Canada look just like those in the US.

In addition to the regular grocery stores, we also made our way to the Jean-Talon Market, a large open-air market in Montreal.  Most of the stalls had beautiful but not particularly cheap produce.  However we found a vendor that sold big buckets of cherries, blueberries, and grapes for just a few dollars each!  Another vendor was selling small baskets of bananas, peppers, asparagus, and oranges for a dollar each.

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Produce from Jean-Talon Market and the Asian grocery store. Cookies, pasta, and sauce from the Dollarama dollar store.

I’m an amateur cheese connoisseur.  That’s another way of saying I like cheese.   I had to stop by a fromagerie near our apartment to check out the hundred or more varieties of cheese they offer.  I went with a couple of relatively tame-looking blocks of local cheese (a vacherin and a camambert).  The camambert didn’t disappoint, but the vacherin was particularly stinky.  In a mostly good way.

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Putting the baguette to work holding cheese

Hamburger sliders and local beer for lunch

Hamburger sliders and local beer for lunch

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Mrs. Root of Good’s sashimi tuna and rice for lunch.

We tried poutine a couple of times.  I love french fries, gravy, and cheese.  Just not all mixed together in the same dish.

Poutine, Canada's national dish.  French fries, gravy and cheese curds.

Poutine, Canada’s national dish. French fries, gravy and cheese curds.

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We were adventurous enough to try poutine twice. We decided french fries shouldn’t be adulterated with gravy and taste better plain (dipped in ketchup of course).

We had planned on buying some cold cuts from the deli and packing picnic lunches.  After seeing how expensive the grocery store’s sandwich meat was, we decided to make steak, stir fry veggies, and rice and pack that for lunch instead.  Good choice!

Steak, rice, and stir fry picnic lunch in downtown Montreal

Steak and cheese subs, rice, and stir fry picnic lunch in downtown Montreal

 

Expense Summary – Montreal (7 days)

CategoryNotesCost    
Restaurant Meals$11/day85
Groceries$24/day195
Gas Montreal local driving and to/from Quebec city80
Parking$9/day for 3 days parking26
Tollsnone0
Transitwe drove the car0
AirBnB Apartment - Montreal8 nights471
Barclay Arrival Plus bonus$450 sign up bonus applied to AirBnB rental-450
Entertainment/Admission FeesMontreal Botanical Garden - Jardin Botanique49
Souvenirssorry kids, no room in the trunk0
LaundryCoin op laundry in apartment bldg (2 loads)6
TRIP BUDGET - Montreal7 days at $66/day$461

At $66 per day, we had an incredibly affordable (and enjoyable!) stay in Montreal.  Cooking most meals at home undoubtedly helped, as did the almost free apartment rental after applying the $450 travel rewards bonus we received by signing up for the Barclay Arrival Plus card.

In Part 4 of our Canada Trip summary, I’ll show the places we visited around Montreal.

 

If you want to ensure you receive the rest of the story of our trip to Canada, make sure to subscribe on Facebook, Twitter, or by email or RSS reader (in the column to the right).

 

What’s your preference – renting an apartment or staying in a hotel?

 

 

12 comments

  • AirBnB is great! It’s our second choice (after Starwood, of course). We’ve had particularly good luck with properties in more rural areas where there aren’t as many hotel options. Looks like you found a great deal with that apartment!

    • We had a great experience with Airbnb in montreal, and a horrible experience in Quebec City (later patched up by airbnb corporate). More details in a future post! 🙂

      Oh, and starwood brand hotels are great. I think for long term stays we’ll pay cash for the airbnb places since we have 3 kids. The extra living room, kitchen and bedroom are worth it!

  • So much nicer having a kitchen on vacation. Going out to eat every single day is almost nauseating. Not to mention expensive.

    Good looking family you have.

  • Looks like you’re having a great time! The apartment seems like a great deal, especially compared to what you would get in a hotel for that price.

  • I’ve heard of Poutine…didn’t know what it was until now. I remember fondly cheese, fries with gravy…used to have it a lot at a diner I went to back in the day. But yea, sometimes plain old ketchup is just better. So what attractions and sights did your family go see in Montreal…I’m considering a trip up there perhaps.

  • Great deal to have a vacation at Montreal.

  • As a montrealer it is interesting to read about your vacations. I have to say, I’m sorry for the poutine, I find it disgusting. They make a huge plate around poutine here… I usually advice people that it reduce life expectancy by 3 month each time you eat one.
    There is a lot of good and healthy restaurant. Glad you found the jean-talon market.
    I like the “chip au ketchup” too.

    • Maybe we just didn’t find the “good” poutine. 🙂 I’ve made it at home here in North Carolina a couple of times and it was okay. Just so unhealthy. It’s a different version of “chili cheese fries” more common here where the chili is gravy instead.

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