At the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, concierge François Houle calls on seven years of experience to guide visitors to the best sights, activities and meals in this historic riverside city. Here he offers his expert advice for business travelers.
What should business travelers have on hand when visiting your city?
Montreal enjoys the beauty of four seasons. In winter make sure to have warm boots, a winter jackets, gloves, scarf and something to cover your head. Fall and spring require a warm sweater and a jacket, gloves and hat. Summer can be hot and humid, so bring sunblock, clothes that will help you stay cool and a good pair walking of shoes.
What are your top restaurant recommendations for a business lunch or dinner?
Our Le Montréalais Bistrot-Bar (900 Rene Levesque Blvd. W, Montreal; Ph: + 1 514 861 3511) at the Queen Elizabeth offers French comfort food at its best. We feature local ingredients on a menu prepared by our award-winning executive chef Sébastien Giannini. He was selected to represent Canada at the 2015 Bocuse d’Or, which promotes the gastronomic signature of competing countries. Ferreira Café (1446 rue Peel, Montréal; Ph: 514-848-0988) is a refined but warm spot offering Portuguese cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. Graziella Battista (116 McGill St. Montreal; Ph: 514-876-0116) presents Northern Italian classic meals and desserts, reinvented and modernized using seasonally available ingredients. Le Club Chasse et Pêche (423 rue St-Claude, Montreal; Ph: 514-861-1112) has created buzz because of its contemporary cuisine and sublime wine list. The menu features local produce, fish and game.
What’s something that surprises guests about your hotel?
We are connected to Montreal’s Underground City, one of the world’s largest subterranean complexes. Guests will find hundreds of stores and restaurants, a movie theater, wax museum, indoor skating rink and much more — all connected via 32 kilometers (20 miles) of corridors that protect people from the weather.
If business travelers only have a few hours for leisure, what must they see?
Old Montreal is nestled between the St. Lawrence River and downtown skyscrapers. Notre Dame Basilica, built in 1824, is among the most impressive in the world. The beauty of the artwork is simply stunning. Mount Royal Park offers an impressive view of the city below, as well as many outdoor activities. The Italian Renaissance-style St. Joseph’s Oratory is among the largest basilicas in Canada with beautiful gardens and an impressive collection of religiously themed art in its adjacent museum. The Olympic Stadium created for the 1976 Summer Games is an architectural wonder. Its inclined tower is one of the largest in the world, at 165 meters (541 feet). If you only have time for an overview, you can see all of these sights in a three-hour bus tour.
What’s the best option for outdoor exercise?
Montreal has an outstanding network of bicycle paths that stretch along the canal of Lachine Canal, the Parc Jean Drapeau and the St. Lawrence Estacade. Mount Royal Park offers great space to run and the reward of a view from the lookout.