A Couch surfer’s Guide to Montreal
So you’ve decided to couch surf in Montreal! Congratulations, you’ve made a fantastic choice. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you maximize your enjoyment of our fantastic city.
Top 5 things to include in a Montreal couchsurfing request if you want it to be accepted
- Your interest in discovering why Montreal is Canada’s most unique/greatest city: Citizens of Montreal are nothing if not insanely proud of the city in which they live. It’s probably best to play on that pride if you want somebody to let you into their home for free.
- Your interest in Montreal’s French culture: Montreal is a mostly French city in an entirely French province of Canada. Ignore this fact at your own peril.
- Your love of the Montreal Canadiens or hatred for the Toronto Maple Leafs/Boston Bruins: Even if it’s a lie, this is probably the quickest way to a Montrealers heart.
- Offers to repay your host’s kindness: This is just a general rule of couchsurfing. If somebody lets you sleep in their house for free, the least you can do is buy them a six pack or cook them a meal.
- Token French: Include a sentence or two of French in your request. It will help you come off as ready to involve yourself in Montreal’s distinct culture.
Top 5 things NOT to include in a Montreal couchsurfing request if you want it to be accepted
- Montreal’s “European-ness”: As far as I can tell this concept has been totally fabricated by people from Ontario and that one postcard which has a picture of the Old Port on it. People who live here don’t think the city is European so stay away from that narrative.
- You’re in Montreal for Osheaga/to party in general: Nobody wants to hear that the strangers they’re inviting into their home are in Montreal exclusively to get shitfaced for several consecutive days.
- Quips about corruption or the Charter of Values: We know our politics are messed up. We don’t need you reminding us of this.
- Quips about potholes, road construction in general or faulty bridges: We know our infrastructure is messed up. We don’t need you reminding us of this.
- Token French: Don’t patronize us with your phony attempt to appreciate and appropriate our distinct culture.
Where to Sleep?
The area of Montreal in which you try to find a couchsurfing host is crucial as Montreal’s different neighborhoods all offer very different traits and vibes. If you’re looking for cool people, cafés and instant access to Montreal’s legendary bagels, The Mile End is the place to be. If you’d prefer slightly less cool people, slightly more expensive coffee and smoked meat instead of bagels, try the Plateau. Both the Plateau and Mile End offer many suitable locations for Montreal’s favourite summer passtime: getting plastered on terraces. If you’re looking to indulge in what I call the “18 year old drunk American” Montreal experience, you’re probably going to want to find a host downtown in The Golden Square Mile. This area offers access to all the skeeziest clubs where you’re likely to meet all the drunk 18 year olds your heart desires. Had a bad night and struck at with all the 18 year olds? No need to worry! There are many strip clubs/fast food joints close by so you can eat/spend your pain away.
Super alternative/Super low budget option: Why couchsurf at all? Mount Royal is full of dense forests in which you can surreptitiously set up a tent for an evening. You may even get the once in a lifetime opportunity to join one of the many clandestine hobo colonies that reside up in the Mount Royal Woods.
Where to Eat?
Montreal is full of cheap delicious eats that will certainly satisfy the stomach while leaving the wallet intact. Bagels are a must and the Saint Viateur and Fairmount bagel factories run 24/7. If you’re looking for a classic Montreal smoked meat, Schwarz’s and The Main are both open late and stand directly across the street from each other. Poutine is available pretty much everywhere but if you can, try to get one at either Frite Alors, Lafleur or La Banquise. Boustan has two downtown locations and makes a mouth watering shawarma. The strip of Jean Talon street between Parc and L’Acadie harbours several cheap and delicious Indian restaurants. Also you can’t go wrong with the Korean food at Chez Bong in Chinatown.
Super alternative/Super low budget option: Head over to Jean-Talon market and snack on free samples of fruit and produce until you’re full.
Where to Drink?
There are two ways to go in Montreal when it comes to getting wasted. The first is the club route. If ear-splitting music and surprising unsuspecting strangers by grinding all up on them is your thing, head to Crescent street or the corner of Saint Laurent and Sherbrooke to fulfill all of your wildest dreams. If sitting at a bar and enjoying some good drink and conversation is more your kind of thing, our fair city also has you covered. Elsie’s, The Waverly and Vices Versa all have great atmospheres and great beer selections. Montreal is also known for it’s many stupendous microbreweries. Dieu de Ciel is most definitely Montreal’s microbrew Mecca but Brutopia, Reservoir and Benelux also have more than a few delicious homemade beers on tap.
Super alternative/Super low budget option: go to a depanneur, by a twelve pack and drink in one of Montreal’s beautiful parks. For the most part, if you’re not causing a public disturbance, the police will leave you alone.
Featured photo by Montreal Photo Chick