With the vast Cité des arts du Cirque as its centrepiece, the neighbourhood of Saint-Michel, in the northern end of Montréal, is at the heart of the city’s circus scene—and as the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, the home to TOHU and the site of the annual festival Montréal Complètement Cirque, Montréal truly is the city of circus.
In addition to world-class entertainment, Saint-Michel boasts a ton of interesting food and things to explore, despite being off the average tourist’s beaten path. We catch up with Patricia Ruel, director of creation behind the Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA, to discover all the cool stuff we’ve been missing.
“Cirque du Soleil is part of this complex dedicated to the circus arts, so I spend most of my days there. The programming at TOHU is super interesting. Plus during the summer, during the Montréal Complètement Cirque festival, the area comes alive – the whole esplanade in front of TOHU transforms. They set up a little bistro with a lovely terrasse where the Cirque du Soleil gang often ends up for drinks and a burger after work.”
2345 Jarry Street East
“Luzia is a show that’s inspired by Mexico, plus my husband is Mexican so I love Mexican cuisine. This is a great, authentic little restaurant – it’s unpretentious, family-style food. The tacos are great. Then, directly across the street, there’s a little dep that doubles as a Mexican market, where you can find everything from dried hot peppers of every sort to Mexican candy, canned goods, fresh corn tortillas – you name it.”
2474 Jean-Talon Street East
“This is a regular haunt for the Cirque gang. It’s a Portuguese restaurant we know simply as ‘chez le Portugais’ – so good we eat there three, four times a week! It’s open late, so it’s a fantastic place to end a day. I often order the grilled octopus, but they make a great churrasqueira chicken and other such classics.”
3204 Jarry Street East
“In this giant Asian supermarket you’ll find a restaurant, and that’s one of our favourite lunch spots. The food is amazing, really delicious and quite unusual. I also go for the supermarket itself, because they’ve got things you can’t find elsewhere and the prices are amazing. The fish counter is immense and I love the frozen dumplings.”
3733 Jarry Street East
“This is an upcoming project for Montréal’s 375’s anniversary coming up in 2017. The City of Montréal is transforming the area that used to be the Miron quarry into an immense park – even bigger than Central Park. There’ll be a pond where we can kayak, a tower with a lookout over the entire expanse… in winter, it’ll be a beautiful spot for cross-country skiing, and in the summer, jogging, biking, anything you want. I already go skiing around there, but I can’t’ wait until the project is finished.”
Patricia Ruel is the Director of Creation for the Cirque du Soleil’s latest show, LUZIA. Follow her from San Agustinillo, Mexico, to Cirque Headquarters in Montréal, as she explains the deep connection between Cirque du Soleil and Mexico.
LUZIA opens in Montréal on April 21, 2016. Tickets are available here.
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