VIIIth ANNUAL CONFERENCE, JUNE 18-20, 2008, Université de Montréal, MONTRÉAL

, 18 — 20 June 2008

If you wish to spend the week-end or a few off-conference hours  in the city, here are a few hints from the organizers of the conference.
Although not in the same league as Paris, Rome, New York or Boston, Montreal has a few interesting museums that frequently display fine exhibitions. Three of my favorites are Pointe-à-Callière, which we will visit before the banquet, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Canadian Center for Architecture. More below.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
This midsize museum has a fine display of eclectic collections, ranging from traditional Canadian to contemporary art. IMHO, some of the highlights are
  • the underground passage between the Benaiah Gibb and Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavillion
    (designed by architect Moshe Safdie);
  • the African collections of the Cirque du Soleil;
  • the sacred art of Nouvelle France;
  • unfortunately, the exhibition "¡Cuba! Art and History from 1868 to Today" ends on June 8. It is currently replaced by the first retrospective devoted to the designer Yves Saint-Laurent, who unfortunately passed away a few days ago.
Access to the permanent collection of the museum is free.
Canadian Center for Architecture
The CCA project is due to Phyllis Lambert, an architect who collaborated with Mies van der Rohe on the design of the Seagram Building, one of the finest in New York. The beautiful albeit austere building  of the CCA encompasses the historic Shaughnessy House. On the other side of René Lévesque boulevard, wedged between the boulevard and a highway entrance, lies, in a most improbable location, a sculpture garden designed by Melvin Charney.
For the latest on Montreal's cultural life, have a look at Voir, a free weekly available everywhere in the city, or its English equivalent, Hour. The city is known for its uncountable number of festivals
Thanks to the Broad Street Bullies (aka the Philadephia Flyers of the NHL), the hockey craze has come to an abrupt end, and so your once-in-a-lifetime chance of witnessing live a Stanley cup riot. Sigh...
June 24th is la "Fête Nationale" in Quebec (the province, not the city). There should be plenty of activity, especially on Mount Royal and in the Old Town.
Downtown, the Old Montreal, Mount Royal and the harbour are all nice places for a leisurely stroll.

Some years ago, Montreal was voted the best cycling town in the world by a specialized magazine. While I do not entirely agree with this statement, the city is dotted with an extensive network of bike paths, and entertains what might the largest cycling event in the world, le "Tour de l'Île", where several streets are closed to car traffic in order to make way for some fifty thousand two-wheelers.

If you are an aficionado, I strongly recommend a loop that takes you to the south shore and back, crossing twice the two-mile wide Saint-Lawrence river. The views of the city are nothing short of spectacular! If you have some more time, take the Lachine Canal bike path and its follow-up all the way to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (25-some miles one-way). For more information, simply contact Gilles or Patrice, or the latter's cycling website.

As everywhere, most restaurant guides are not to be trusted. Here are some of our personal picks.
  • For a splurge: Toqué! or La Chronique;
  • For an under $15 three-course meal at a good French restaurant, coffee included: La Gaudriole;
  • For a unique non-vegeterian experience: Au Pied de Cochon;
  • For a typical French-Canadian fast food, with dozens of poutines: Chez Claudette;
  • For a classic on Laurier Street: Leméac (hard to beat $22 menu after 10PM);
  • For a trendy Old Montreal restaurant: Le Club Chasse et Pêche;
  • For a trendy and decently priced restaurant "sur la Main" (Saint-Laurent): Cuisine et Dépendance;
  • For a good Indian restaurant: Devi;
  • Within walking distance of the university: Bistro Olivieri (5219 Côte-des-Neiges, located in a library, main fauna: university professors), Atami (5449 Côte-des-Neiges, below par surrounding, but very good Japanese food), Lao Beijing (5619A Côte-des-Neiges, excellent Peking food at ridiculously low prices: $6 for a complete lunch, tax included!), Le Commensal (5199 Côte-des-Neiges, upscale veggy bar where you pay by the weight), Restaurant Oriental Ngan Dinh (5540 Côte-des-Neiges; meal-soups are average, so you should head for the succulent BoLaLop).
For another point of view, here is the website of a true expert, my McGill colleague Luc Devroye. Please have a look at Luc's places and, while you are at it,