The Plateau – as that’s the name of the area – was the very first place I visited in Montreal. I didn’t know what to expect from it, at the beginning of my stay in Montreal I didn’t even know that this is the artsy heart of the city. But few minutes after walking inside the neighborhood I’ve realized what kind of place it is. And I couldn’t be happier. All the quirky boutiques, small shops, bookstores, cozy cafes and bakeries, alternative people walking around slowly, not rushing anywhere. And the street art, literally around every corner! I knew that the short visit there is definitely not enough and so on the next day I returned there, to spend more time wandering around and absorb the wonderful bohemian atmosphere.
The Plateau used to be a working class neighborhood with multicultural inhabitants that transformed into the place full of artists in 50s and 60s. Sadly, because it became very trendy and hip area, the prices of rent also increased big time and these days it’s hard to find a cheap flat there. But the houses there are the most beautiful ever – rows of duplexes from the beginning of 20th century along the long streets with trees on both sides . What’s unique in these houses are the high stairs – I’ve never seen such a solution before and apparently it’s only a Montreal thing. To have more space inside and pay less for the rent staircases were built outside. It looked weird at first to me but I quickly fall in love with it and couldn’t stop staring in elation at how smart it was!
From the very first moment I knew that the area reminds me or something, just didn’t really know what. And not in the look but in the atmosphere. Eventually I figured out it’s much like Scandinavian capitals – Copenhagen, Helsinki or Reykjavik. Unlike other bohemian districts I’ve seen in Vilnius or Belgrade the Plateau didn’t feel like an abandoned place. Quite the contrary actually. No matter what time of the day the area is full of people. The artists who lead very laid-back life and usually work at nights are widely seen hanging out in numerous cafes no matter what time of the day, the Orthodox Jews coexists with rebellious students, the older inhabitants chat in front of the stores after their morning shopping. Everyone has the right to be whoever they want to, no one is judging…No one is in a hurry, everyone has the time to enjoy the life…
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With (not enough!) time I had in Montreal most of it was spent in the area of the Plateau, just walking around, looking at people, enjoying the creative vibe. And I really wish I still had more time to discover this neighborhood. I know that when I return to Montreal that’s the place I will focus on. Because sometimes it’s not about monuments or important places, it’s about people and the atmosphere…
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