La Belle Province

Here’s the thing about roadtrips: they can be a great, inexpensive, and fun way to travel.

……..except when you take them in the middle of a SNOWSTORM:

Yeeeeah. So driving from Toronto to Montreal in the middle of what newscasters were dubbing “Snowmaggedon 2012” in hindsight may not have been the best idea. The drive (which ordinarily takes about 5 hours) ended up taking my friend Lia and I well over 8, and involved several near-death encounters. Luckily, thanks to a giant bag of pretzel M&Ms, a sweet 80’s playlist, and more than a few prayers to Saint Christopher- I live to blog another day.

Dear Chris: please let us get to Montreal alive. And while you're at it, please let this rest stop have clean washrooms.

We spent our first night in Montreal at Lia’s Aunt and Uncle’s place. Obviously, copious amounts of wine were necessary to repress the memories of imminent peril- and we ended up having a late night of drinking, eating, and taking shelter from the storm.

I awoke the next morning with a vague recollection of drunkenly promising Lia’s Auntie Claude I’d attend her Spin class with her at 10 a.m…..  a decision I immediately regretted once armed with sober second thoughts. Being yelled at in french to pedal faster + a low-grade hangover do not make for an appetizing combo, lemme tell ya.  Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and Lia and I agreed to simply run on the treadmill instead. 

We had free passes to the gym, which was good considering it usually costs eleventy thousand dollars and your first-born child just to get in there.  That plus the fact that it was called “Le Sporting Club Sanctuaire”, told me this gym was going to be ritzy. The best way I could describe it is: how the other half lives. The parking garage was filled with Porsches and Lexi (is that the plural of lexus?) and all of the women looked like they had just emerged from their daily dip in the eternal fountain of youth. (side note: did you know that Louis Vuitton made gym bags? I do now). Inside there were squash courts, an indoor pool, a state of the art pilates studio, and a cardio room that would make Bob Harper cry. They even gave out $20 bills to wipe away your sweat with! (Just kidding.. you got complimentary towels, which smelled like freshly baked cookies…I’m not sure how this works as an incentive, but I went with it).

I found this pic of the lobby online. I didn't take any pictures inside myself, only cause I'm not extremely creepy.

I did experience one slight hurdle when I realized the treadmill pre-sets were in Km/hour instead of my standard miles. I spent several awkward minutes slow-motion/stumble jogging and attracting quizzical glances from several other fellow gym-goers before eventually figuring that sh*t out. Treadmill fail.

After learning that I’m a Luddite working on our fitness, we made our way to Old Montreal. First stop, brunch at Olive et Gourmando.

If wanting to swim in a pool filled with brioche and almond croissants is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right


... Because the greatest, love of all is happening to me.......
Truffle mac & cheese should be illegal. Either that, or being morbidly obese should be socially acceptable.

2459090909 calories (and one pointless workout) later, we stumbled out of the restaurant ready to explore Old Montreal.

I recognize this looks like I cropped myself into this pic, but I swear to God I was actually there.
Yeah. That happened.

I decided during our stroll that Montreal has a charm and sophistication that no other Canadian city can match. The culture, the buildings, the cobblestone streets…. plus, saying anything in French just makes it seem infinitely cooler and more sophisticated.  I’ll admit I got sort of caught up in it all, and felt like I was becoming more sophisticated myself through cultural osmosis. I felt a smug satisfaction every time I ordered a Cafe au Lait instead of a coffee, or gave a cab driver directions in [extremely broken] french… I even found myself in an art gallery at one point, contemplating purchasing one of the prints on display. Guess I must have temporarily forgotten that I HAVE NO MONEY.

Anyway, the rest of our trip was delightful, and filled with more cheese, wine, Montreal bagels, and thankfully, a relatively uneventful drive home.


Except for stopping to buy these sweet shades at a gas station... (I lost on my roll up the rim to win though. It all evens out).

I recognize this post was pretty low in poutine, shopping, and sexy French-Canadian men like I promised…. buuuut it was pretty high in both quality photos and literary content, so you can’t really complain.

Just for good measure though (and because one faithful reader in particular I know will appreciate it) here’s a pic of the one and only Georges St. Pierre.

GSP says: Je plains le fou who doesn't read The Camel Life!

Question of the Day: Have you taken any trips recently?   


31 thoughts on “La Belle Province

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  1. Sounds like a crazy drive!! Have had a few of those on the 401 myself! Can be a nasty stretch of road in those storms! The gym sounds crazy decadent – would almost be embarrassed to sweat! Tromping around old Montreal more my style – isn’t it just the coolest! Will have to get back out there soon!


  2. As a result of the Georges St-Pierre picture, this faithful reader is posting her first inaugural comment. Vive le Québec! I feel so vulnerable now.


    1. AAAH I love it! If I had known that’s what it would take to get you to show your (virtual) face I would’ve pulled out the GSP guns much sooner!
      This would-be Low Self Esteem Tuesday is officially looking up


    1. It’s a great city- but you might be better off waiting for some warmer weather 😉
      I’ve always wanted to go to Chicago- ever since I saw Ferris Bueller’s Day off haha


      1. I’ve only been to Chicago in winter weather (yet somehow still enjoy it every time – it’s a great vacation city).

        Montreal is awesome. Some of my fondest vacation memories are there. Now I want to revisit, and soon!

        Both excellent, first rate cities.


      2. it’s worth a re-visit- but I’d wait till warmer weather.. although the snow did look incredibly charming… my fashionable yet impractical leather boots paid the price in salt stains. Ugh.


  3. Montreal is so gorgeous, but I found out the hard way that I wasn’t destined to live there– only visit. (I hauled all of my worldly possessions from Calgary to Montreal, only to live there for a total of 4 days. Moving fail.)

    That gym sounds incredibly intimidating! But now I will forever be pondering whether Lexi is truly the plural form of Lexus. Perhaps I’ll reach enlightenment while I contemplate…


      1. Not homesick, just a drastic change of plans. (I was supposed to do my MA at Concordia and ended up having to go back to the stupid U of C last minute Still chaps my ass…)


  4. Wow.That sounds so fun.=) Especially the “French Part” and also the gym. Gah~ If I was in that gym, I might be suddenly gone and later on discovered to be engulfed by one of the machines…or the Louis Vuitton gym bags.haha.


    1. I wouldn’t mind being engulfed in a Louis Vuitton gym bag.. I think i’d just stay there, too. It would be quite a glamorous way to live. I’d decorate the walls with original Monets and Picassos, and throw a few Hermes scarves around for a little ambience. Every meal would be gourmet cheese, and the time would always be wine o’clock. I’ll invite you over sometime.


  5. Glad you made it safely. I can relate to the long, scary drive in the snow… I was driving from Denver, CO to Boston, MA once, and got stuck in some icky, icy weather going through Nebraska. Nebraska, if you’ve never been through it, is not the most exciting of states.

    When I was growing up, we used to drive to Sioux City, IA, from Denver (though Nebraska), and the whole trip took 10-12 hours. The first night, I left Denver late, and made it to North Platte, Nebraska. The next day, the snow/ice storm hit, and the 4.5 hour drive from North Platte to Omaha, Nebraska took me 11 hours. It was the most scary, miserable drive ever. So, I feel your pain.

    Sounds like you had lots of good wine and food to make up for the awful drive!

    I’m glad you’re home safe!


    1. I’ve never been to Nebraska, but when I was a kid a girl in my class won an essay contest on the topic of Ground Water and won a free trip to Nebraska. I was SOOOO JEALOUS!!! It all sounded so glamorous. But then again, to a 10 year old from a small-town Nova Scotia, anywhere sounds glamorous.


  6. That was one heck of an adventure there. That posh gym doesn’t really sound like a gym at all. If the weights aren’t half-broken and threatening to drop themselves on your face mid-lift then I don’t want to know.

    As a proud Englishman all that French speaking would send me into an apoplectic rage. JUST GIVE ME A COFFEE YOU FAUX GALLIC PENIS.


  7. I love it!!! Also glad you and Lia are still alive after that shit storm. It looks totally worth the trouble though. I always feel three notches classier when I go to Montreal. Kudos to you for going to the gym on your weekend getaway. Que dedication!
    I`m getting ready for my annual Montreal visit too. Probably sometime mid March. Can`t wait! 😀


    1. Since we’ve both been to Montreal now, does that mean we have to act classier? Cause I’m not ready to stop drinking multiple glasses of pinot and then taking a drunken subway ride home with you. PS when are we doing that again?


      1. Ummm quite the contrary actually. The French down litres of Pinot like the snobby bottomless pits that they are. We need to learn how to be classy INSPITE of multiple glasses. I think your “act sober” trick works well.

        You know what they say: “practice makes perfect”. And speaking of practice, I’m free saturday and sunday 😉


  8. This wasn’t in any way a low quality post. I thought it was very grand (your description of the gym makes me want to use words like grand and Rockefeller).

    How much different is Montreal from Toronto? I heard it’s like another country, another country from America, and then another country from Toronto. I told the person who told me that they were stupid.

    And what is it about the French we find so sexy?


    1. It’s totally different- I’m not sure if you’re familiar with all of this but the entire province of Quebec is pretty desperate to get the hell out of Canada. They’ve held like, 85 referendums or something and the separatists always narrowly lose out. In that regard, I think Montreal thinks of itself as a sovereign, European-like city… and it sort of is. It has a lot more charm and uniqueness about it than Toronto- which is your standard, built-on-a-grid-system, smoggy, businessy city. Plus it has a serious organized crime ring, which immediately makes it more legit.


      1. Mostly hells angels… also Italian mafia.. there is a huge problem with collusion in the construction industry in Quebec and infrastructure is really going downhill because of it… I actually had to wear a helmet the entire time I was there to avoid falling pieces of buildings.


  9. Haven’t been on a trip in awhile, and I haven’t been to Montreal in more than 20 years, but I have nothing but fond memories of both Montreal and Toronto. Beautiful cities with nice folks. I always enjoying visiting Canada, even when there’s not a hockey game in town.


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