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Fresh river breezes and a bustling food scene make Verdun a top Montréal neighbourhood to explore this weekend.
Archaeological evidence around Verdun attest to the presence of Indigenous people in the area as early as 4,000 years ago. Back then, its proximity to the St. Lawrence River made it an ideal location to gather, especially in the summer months where cool breezes come off the water. Nowadays, the Montréal neighbourhood is a synthesis of working-class, long-term locals and a flock of creative newcomers. Folks from Montréal (and beyond) keep visiting for those sweet river breezes.
The big attractions
Waterfront. Expansive parks line the banks of the St. Lawrence River, making Verdun one of the few neighbourhoods of Montréal to provide full access along the entire length of its waterfront. This stretch of green space is the perfect location to cycle, to rollerblade, or to simply hunker down on a blanket for a picnic of neighbourhood delights (food suggestions below). A bike path follows between the river and LaSalle Boulevard—set your GPS device for “Turtle Wharf Park” or “Monseigneur J A Richard Park” to find your way there!
The beach. Located behind the Verdun Auditorium, the Verdun Beach attracts families and small groups of people eager for a bit of sand, sun, and splashing. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (except after heavy rain). No charge.
Promenade Wellington. Closed to traffic for the summer months, Wellington Street is one of the best places in Montréal for an urban stroll. Sip a frosty beverage on one of the many terrasses, treat yourself to an ice cream cone, or simply ‘people watch’ from one of the many lounging installations. See the Promenade Wellington website for special events and a complete list of merchants.
Over the past decade, the food scene in Verdun has evolved at an astronomical rate. While the mom n’ pop comfort food diners still offer up classics like poutine and steamies, a gamut of other inventive bistros and sophisticated bars are introducing Hawaiian flair, vegan options, and a host of other flavours.
Brunch it out
Well. Is it short for “Wellington” or “Wellness”? No need to choose—both apply. This banquette-lined cafe with a contemporary vibe serves classic brunch fare with a healthy twist.
Janine. With the colourful décor of an English tea room, Janine is the whimsical choice for brunch in Verdun. A lot of love goes into the food. Reservations a must.
Station W. The massive windows provide an illuminated interior and the menu offers one of the best breakfast sandwiches in the neighbourhood. Takeaway available.
Gear up for a picnic
Fromagerie Copette & Cie. Gourmet cheese shop with a selection of charcuterie, condiments, bread, sweets and even fresh waffles. To streamline the process, order via their online portal.
BOSSA Prêt-à-manger. A family-run sandwich shop, with other specialities such as iced coffee and meatballs the size of small fists.
Come for the food, stay for the food
Honi Honi. In a Hawaiian-themed environment, poke bowls are the big attraction. On Tuesdays you can nab two poke bowls for $29. On other days, opt for the table d’hôte. Outdoor seating available.
Archway bar santé. This 100% plant-focused café is a must-stop for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who wants to add some botanical bliss to their microbiome.
Rita. With high ceilings and big windows, Rita's atmosphere feels like an upscale restaurant but without feeling too pretentious. The pizzas are the big attraction.
Blackstrap BBQ. Authentic American barbecue paying homage to down-home traditions with a distinctly Montréal slant—for nearly a decade. They were at the forefront of Verdun’s food evolution.
Restaurant Pigor. Handsome dining room offering an updated French menu, natural wines, and plenty of charm.
Beba. One of Verdun’s best-kept secrets, the menu features a blend of Spanish, Italian, and South American influences. The big attraction are the empanadas.
Les Délices de l'île Maurice. The island flavours of Mauritius with Creole accents—all in a cheerful surrounding.
Dessert (if there’s space in your belly)
Crèmes Boboule. This Verdun institution is the place for ice cream along the Wellington Promenade. All the classic flavours, plus sorbets and vegan options!
Crèmerie Verdun. With direct views across the water (search for Restaurant Crescendo), this is the place to stop while cycling or strolling the pathways along the river.
Whether for a jolt of caffeine or a refreshing glass of ale, here are some options for beverages in Verdun. Keep in mind that Wellington Street is closed to vehicle traffic, and subsequently most places offer sprawling terrasse space.
Sweet Lee’s. A high pressed-tin ceiling and terrasse, this is a handsome place to pick up breads, pastries, and sandwiches. Order ahead for quick service.
Lili & Oli. The classic café near the Atwater Market has opened a Verdun location. Reliably great coffee.
Café Chato. Cat lovers unite and sip caffeine! Verdun’s cat café is open with a limited seating selection. Reach out to the owners and rent the whole space for your small group.
Palco. With the Arts de vivre team, Palco offers signature cocktails along with tasty dishes in a handsome setting. Try the Chai Lemonade.
BENELUX brasserie artisanale. Hip yet relaxed bar that pairs craft beer with well-endowed paninis. Located in a former bank. Plenty of room on the terrasse.
Bar Social Verdun. The interior is eclectically decorated, featuring murals and custom metal work by Verdun artists. The menu focuses on classic cocktails and craft beer.
Verdun Beach. Not to be mistaken with the actual sand-covered beach, this bar is a newcomer with natural wines, beachy cocktails, and snackable food. Perfect for the mature surfer crowd.
Boutique Brock-Art. Hand-made musings from local artists!
La Librairie de Verdun. An independent bookstore on an impressive scale.
Marché Branche d’Olivier. The locals adore this place for groceries, natural cleaning supplies, and bulk items.
Chez Robin. Health food! In bulk!