Free Montreal Travel Resources on our New Website

S3VYMuehAWg48yifQOyucEM_DNnNErMjfkMbgSjLG98

Montreal, the world’s second largest French speaking city, is the next best thing to Paris, without the jet lag. Our newly revamped Paris by Design website makes it easy to visit this vibrant, international, family-friendly city.

Need an excuse to go? The current exchange rate puts Montreal joie de vivre (bistros, chocolatiers, artisan craft, and design) seriously on sale. On Jan 13, $1 CAD = $.69 USD.

The new website’s full color, panoramic photos of Montreal streets, museums, bagels, and markets offer more reasons to love the city.

Are you thinking about visiting Montreal, and need help getting started? Our brand new Travel Resource pages cover weather, packing, festivals, getting there, and more.

Apps, maps and articles share some of our favorite addresses, help you communicate with Montrealers, and keep you found as you explore the city. They even help you find and pay for parking in Montreal.

And then there is our raison d’être: don’t miss our small group Montreal tours and custom travel planning services, easily accessed by pull down menus and photo grids.

Please take a look around the new site — and let us know what you think!

Keep Cool at Paris Plage

How do you keep cool when the summer heat engulfs Paris? Try Paris Plage. The annual event is family-friendly, low cost, and about 10º cooler than the street.

Paris Plage is the city’s beach. In central Paris, the beach follows Voie Georges Pompidou, near Métro Hôtel de Ville. Its 3 kilometers contain sand, palm trees, ice cream parlors, volleyball courts, tai chi, self-serve eau de Paris water fountains, a library, concert stage, and boules courts.

A giant screen will broadcast the Olympics from July 27-Aug 12. Dance lessons take place weekday evenings on Quai du Louvre – choose from rock, tango, salsa.

At Pont-au-Change, an area of the beach is reserved for children aged 3 to 6 – arrive with buckets and shovels for maximum enjoyment.

There are more kids events at Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement (Métro Stalingrad or Jaurès)—including slides, zip lines, pedal boats, dirt biking, drawing, and mini-golf.

About 150, 000 people cool off at Paris Plage daily. The beaches are open 8am – midnight through Aug 19, and events are free.

For schedules and more info, check the city’s website.

Other tips for keeping cool in a city with minimal air conditioning? Let us know!

Three Free, Fun Activities for Kids

The area around Centre Pompidou offers a trio of activities for kids, all of them are free. Plus, family friendly food at good prices.

First is the public space around Centre Pompidou. On nice days, Place Georges Pompidou, the sloped plaza in front of the national modern art museum, is filled with street performers—artists, musicians, mimes and more.

It’s a great place to relax while surrounded by young people of many nationalities. And the building’s inside-out architecture (the building is basically a huge glass box, punctuated by brightly painted pipes and tubes) appeals to kids of all ages.

Beside the museum, at one end of the plaza is Atelier Brancusi. Sculptor Constantin Brancusi arrived in Paris in 1904 after attending the Bucharest School of Fine Arts, and created most of his work in two Montparnasse studios. His second studio has been recreated down to the last detail—with Brancusi’s sculptures, photographs, and tools in place. Panels identify the objects, and admission is free for students and adults. Its size and layout make Atelier Brancusi fun and manageable for young artists.

On the other side of Centre Pompidou is the delightful fountain at Place Stravinsky, with its whimsical sculptures by Nicki de St Phalle and metal mobiles by Jean Tinguely. The fountain is a great backdrop for photos, and there are always a lot of happy kids running around, cooling off beside the sprays of water.

Hungry? Street vendors sell sandwiches and drinks; at the far end of the fountain is Crêperie Beaubourg. They make so many different sweet and savory crêpes that the menu fills a huge blackboard. (Click on the link above to see a video of crêpes being made there.)

Les Pipos Bar à Vin in the 5th


Family-friendly, well priced, with a great wine selection, fresh shellfish and French comfort food, Les Pipos is one of those cozy, neighborhood gathering places that you’re happy you stumbled upon.

I first arrived mid-afternoon, hungry at a time of day when it’s not always easy to find lunch. But they serve nonstop, and midday diners were still lingering at square wooden tables, finishing plates of boeuf bourgignon and devouring platters of perfectly ripe soft cheeses.

My meal was simple: soup of the day, charcuterie platter, glass of wine. The last was chosen by my smiling server, and all three were excellent. Beside me, a family of 4 finished a bowl of aligot (potatoes whipped with Cantal cheese, a specialty of the Auvergne region), wiped their plates clean with slices of baguette, and said they were too full for dessert.

The atmosphere can be hectic in the evening, when things are in full swing: regulars crowd the carved wooden bar and tuck into Brittany oysters and wine; every table is full; servers slip in and out of the kitchen carrying trays overhead; and the low ceiling traps the considerable number of voices.

But dine early, or stop for a glass of wine mid-afternoon.  You’ll want to linger over classic dishes and the excellent wine list in a congenial setting.

They do not take credit cards.