If you walk out our front door and take a left or right, and then take the same again and follow the road down, you’ll eventually hit Boulevard LaSalle. Boulevard LaSalle is the eastern most road on this part of the island (and that’s real east Montréal folks, not made up east which is actually south or north or whatever crazy mixed up direction you’ve decided you’re going for today). It’s bounded by a long park and then the river. It all makes for a pretty sweet evening stroll around the streets and parks of Verdun, where we’re living now.
I kinda love Verdun. It’s an “up and coming area” in real estate parlance, which basically means there are parts that are a bit grotty and not everyone who lives there goes to work in the mornings. But it’s a great spot. We knew we were going to have to move eventually, only having secured a 6 month sub-let on our last place. It was fine and did the job for us when we were fresh off the boat, but it didn’t have the vibe that our little corner of Verdun has. From the minute I stepped off the metro in Verdun station I started to fall for the place. The metro station itself is a cavernous, cathedral-like vault of poured concrete that puts me in mind of nothing so much as the weird shrine to a nuclear war-head at the end of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. It’s fucking class.
The metro station is on Avenue Verdun in front of the Hotel de Ville Verdun (that’s city hall to the non-francophones), and I was meeting Seán there after work in early May to see if it was the kind of area to which we would like to move. A colleague of mine at the time, Val, was living out there and had a lot of good things to say about the place. Rents were apparently cheap and there were lots of good restaurants and shops on Rue Wellington (one block to the east – again, that’s real east people, y’know like the rest of the planet uses). But we needed to get a feel for the place ourselves. It helped arriving on one of the first really nice evenings of the late Spring. The sun was shining, people were balmed out on the grass in the park around the metro, and there were plenty of local characters milling about the place. Certainly the big bearded man in the long, lime green skirt seemed happy. As did the transient man on his bockety bicycle.
We took a stroll down towards 2E Ave and on to 4E. We took note of the “A Louer” signs as we went along, for follow up later. Sure they have craigslist and kijiji and various other websites for rental accommodation in Montréal, but most landlordsnladies seem to prefer to just stick a sign on the balcony or in the window and hope that a prospective tenant will be wandering past. And it seems to work too. Anyway, after noting a few potential gaffs, we found ourselves on Wellington and a little bit more in love with the place. It might be borderline hipster-central, but it just felt right to us. Fish and Chips shops that do craft beers. Craft beer shops that do amazing food. Ice-cream shops, Fromageries, board-game shops, boulangeries, marchés of the orient all jostle side by side on what is the chillest stretch of Montréal boulevard I’ve so far encountered.
With the river a short stroll from there, two metro stations in walking distance as well as being significantly closer to both of our places of work, we decided we’d give Verdun ago. So far, we’ve yet to regret that decision. We found a place to live on our second visit. A 3rd floor 2 bed gaff on 4E Av. Completely empty of furniture of course. Which meant we had that whole ordeal to plough through. But despite some near-death experiences lugging some serious pieces of furniture up two flights of stairs, our 2nd Montréal apartment is starting to take shape nicely. Of course, we still have another winter to look forward to but so far, we’re enjoying Verdun life.
So yeah, feel free to pop round if you’re in the neighbourhood – we can offer you a cup of Barry’s tea at the very least.