This is a place where artisans and musicians live side by side with new families and old immigrants. It's a real, working neighbourhood where you're likely to see old men gossiping on the street corner the way they've done for fifty years, musicians hoisting cellos past the flower shops, Hassidic men in big fur hats carrying prayer shawls, and children yammering in three languages as they ride their scooters to neighbourhood schools. You'll find independent bookshops, vintage stores, funky young designers and artisanal bakers and chocolatiers. There's always a bench to pause and people-watch, and there are plenty of shade-trees, some bearing cherries and pears. This is one of the best neighbourhoods in Canada to feel how electric an urban space can be when it defies homogenization.
This is the beating heart of Mile-End, whose bagel shops, balcony life and cultural ferment have been immortalized by author Mordecai Richler and by new Montreal writers Saleema Nawaz, Sean Michaels and Heather O'Neill.
You'll hear French mingle with English, Polish and Italian, as well as Montreal's own Franco/Anglo melange known as Franglais. You won't be able to resist tantalizing scents of hot bagels baked on wood fires, Portugese chicken skewered over coals, or fresh-ground espresso and buttery croissants.
Check it out for yourself!