Make your way to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue for an off-the-beaten path excursion and a dose of small-town charm. (Photo: Alamy)
The city of Montreal is known the world over for its romantic aura and historic surroundings. It’s a popular destination for everyone from North American travelers to global tourists, but there’s one city neighborhood that’s often overlooked by visitors.
The quaint community of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, hugged by Lake St. Louis, is bursting with small-town charm and French-Canadian authenticity and is enjoyed mostly by locals or savvy out-of-towners who know Sainte-Anne offers all of Montreal’s perks with nary a tourist trap in sight.
Here’s a rundown of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue’s best sights: from an amazing arboretum to rustic eats and everything in between.
Montreal’s only zoo is located in the heart of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and serves the city well as a wildlife wonder. Housing everything from bald eagles to woodland caribou and black bears to wild turkeys, its quaint, open-air surroundings house animals native to southwestern Quebec. It’s been in operation since 1988, and a walk around its 28-acre property is a tranquil way to spend a quiet afternoon.
Celebrate your foray into wildlife by guzzling down a local brew at Dundee’s on the banks of Lake St. Louis. One of Sainte-Anne’s many lures, Dundee’s is a watering hole that welcomes locals just as warmly as it does visitors, while offering a menu that elevates the ancient art of bar food (including escargot as well as fish and chips made from a 50-year-old recipe).
Come for a beer and stay for Dundee’s charming quaintness and perfect lakeside views.
Approaching its 17th season, the Sainte-Anne’s Farmers Market is a local staple that proudly celebrates the community’s artisanal spirit. Attracting vendors ranging from farmers who hawk the freshest area fruits and vegetables to those peddling regional treasures and trinkets, the market hosts a variety of events throughout its six-month season that typically kicks off the first weekend in May.
From themes that salute everything from garlic to chili, the Farmer’s Market is a must-visit Sainte-Anne destination for those seeking a taste of the heart of the Sainte-Anne community.
Located on McGill University’s Macdonald Campus in Sainte-Anne, the Morgan Arboretum is a 610-acre forest preserve that thousands of species of trees and plants, as well as over 180 different kinds of birds, call home.
Open daily, the Arboretum serves as a frequent base for nature workshops and community events and is an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll in the summer or leaf-peeping in the fall.
Once Old Man Winter rolls in, the Arboretum is a hotbed for snowshoeing or skiing: a great way to whet your appetite for the slopes while only a 20-minute trek from the hustle and bustle of downtown Montreal.
If the trappings down in Sainte-Anne aren’t enough for you, look up to the sky. In the midst of the Arboretum’s sprawling property is the Bellevue Observatory which is part of the Montreal Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
The Observatory serves as ground zero for Montreal stargazing. There are public events throughout the year, so take heed of the Society’s catchy tagline, “The sky is not the limit.”
Located just steps from Lake St. Louis, Resto Pub Bord’Eaux offers gastropub comfort food in heaping portions in the midst of a quiet, rustic setting.
Indulge in duck leg confit served with a side of buttery mashed potatoes or four different varieties of gumbo, and wash it all down with an extensive wine and beer selection. When it’s nice, take a seat out front and enjoy a nice breeze courtesy of Lake St. Louis.
A Walk Along the Rue Sainte-Anne
No worthwhile trip to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue would be complete without a walk along the Rue Sainte-Anne, the coastal roadway that hugs Sainte-Anne and runs along Lake St. Louis.
With lakeside views and a variety of shops and restaurants to suit any taste (including a local favorite tandoori spot, aptly dubbed Tandoori Bellevue), the Rue Sainte-Anne is the ideal way to capture both Sainte-Anne’s small-town charm and the aquatic essence that makes the community one of Montreal’s best-kept secrets.