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Griffintown, Little Burgundy, and the Southwest, Montreal Travel Guide

Griffintown, Little Burgundy, and the Southwest Summary

Pros

  • Trendy, up-and-coming area with shops, boutiques, bars, and nightlife
  • Many new, excellent restaurants opening all the time
  • Beautiful bike path along the Lachine Canal
  • Far less congested and touristy than central districts
  • Griffintown in particular is home to buzzy art galleries
  • Fresh produce and casual dining at Marche Atwater
  • Lovely parks and historic sights in farther reaches of the Southwest

Cons

  • Removed from city center and most tourist sights
  • Gentrification issues and rampant condo development in many parts
  • Not all areas of the Southwest are near the metro

What It's Like

In the last decade, Little Burgundy, Griffintown, and the Southwest -- once downtrodden, working class neighborhoods with little nightlife -- have seen an enormous renaissance. This means restaurants, bars, small performance venues, and all manner of trendy outposts drawing cool kids in droves, a feat that's largely credited to the 2005 opening of Joe Beef -- a steak and seafood restaurant on Rue Notre-Dame Ouest. In the following years, dozens of restaurants and bars have cropped up in this part of town, including Nora Gray, Liverpool House, Tuck Shop, Le Vin Papillon, making it a sort of hipster paradise and a great place to spend an evening. Favor something a little more cultural and less indulgent? Griffintown is home to galleries and art spaces exhibiting cutting-edge contemporary work, including Arsenal Montreal, as well as performance spaces like New City Gas.

Just across the border from Little Burgundy, in St-Henri, is Marche Atwater, one of the liveliest markets in the city and where many of the region's chefs buy their produce. The outdoor area is packed with fruit and vegetable vendors, cheese sellers, fishmongers, butchers, bakeries, flower and plant vendors, and high-end specialty shops. During the summer there’s open-air seating, which makes for a great spot to enjoy a cheap, fresh, and delicious lunch. In the colder season, only some outdoor stalls are open, but the market erects a canopy and walls to allow for shopping without fear of frostbite.

South of Marche Atwater is the Lachine Canal, which runs from the Old Port of Montreal all the way to Lac St-Louis. There are beautiful bike paths along the canal's banks, as well as parks that make great picnic spots. The paths are free of cars and traffic of any kind, so it feels like an escape from the city while still having a marvelous view of the skyline from certain vantages. The area around the water -- especially near Marche Atwater -- used to be industrial, but in the last 20 years, factory buildings have been refurbished into pricey lofts.

Where to Stay

Much like Montreal's other locus of all things hip and trendy -- the Mile End -- hotel options are scarce in this part of town. Griffintown will likely be your best bet, and the ALT Hotel Montreal Griffintown is about a fresh option that matches its neighborhood's trendy style. This part of Griffintown -- in the northeastern reaches of the district -- also make getting to Old Montreal relatively easy on foot. The bulk of the dining and drinking scene is clustered along Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, which cuts through Griffintown, Little Burgundy, and St-Henri. If you want easy access to cafes and foodie delights, opt for a vacation rental nearby. The metro is relatively close no matter where you are, though the stations -- Bonaventure, Lucien L'Allier, Georges-Vanier, and Lionel Groulx -- generally line up along the western edges of these neighborhoods. The latter is closest to Marche Atwater, as well as theaters and dining hotspots like Joe Beef. However, if you're looking to explore the farther reaches of the Southwest, which are home to Maison St-Gabriel and Angrignon Park, you'll need a taxi, as metro stations can be scarce.

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