Modern Travel: Montréal en Lumière Day 1

Modern Mississauga is in Montreal for four days to experience the renowned Montréal en Lumière festival along with Brigitte Hasbron from The Food Tease. In this four-part series, we’ll be sharing our experiences with you.

Day 1 – February 23rd

Flying from Pearson to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport via Air Transat had a slight delay on the tarmac, funnily enough, because there were so many other flights heading in the same flight path to Montreal. After a 20 minute delay, the quick hour long flight was on its way.
Brigitte made the equally short jaunt from Ottawa on the train and there’s certainly an argument to be made for travelling in Business Class on Via Rail.

We had tickets for the Chantal Kreviazuk performance at Le Gesù – Theatre that started at 8pm but due to the flight delay and traffic delays from the airport to the Sheraton, we arrived (un)fashionably late at 9:15pm. We quickly and quietly shuffled to our seats expecting to hear only a couple of songs, seeing as we were so late. Thankfully, Chantal was in a giving mood and the stripped down performance consisting of her, a grand piano and a cello (well, and the cello player) wrapped up at 10:15pm.

I really liked the small venue and simple setup. I don’t have all her albums (come to think of it, I don’t even have one) but I have heard a handful of her songs through the past 20-ish years. 
She interacted with the audience by telling stories of how some songs were written and even took a couple of impromptu requests (read: an audience member yelled out a song and she started playing it).
Interestingly, a song off her 2016 album “Hard Sail” is titled “I love you” and Kelly Clarkson was pegged to sing it, only if Kelly could change the song title. Chantal politely (how Canadian of her) declined the request and it ended up on the album. The song resonates strongly with her as it’s about her husband, Raine Maida, and how he supported her through a difficult time.
She performed her big hit “Surrounded” and her version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” but the biggest song of the night was a stirring rendition of Montreal native Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and even included two key changes, upping the intensity of the song.

Having the opportunity to see let alone hear Chantal Kreviazuk was a definite treat. Now if I am being brutally honest, I'm not an expert in knowing song titles, artist's names and so on. However, I knew that I loved some of her songs so I did what naturally most of us would do, I Googled her! 

I felt bad that Jay and I were late going to her venue but as it turned out as a man who was also waiting for his partner told us, Chantal hadn't song her classic hits yet. Fingers crossed that i hadn't missed any of the songs that i could actually hum to (Full disclosure: I can't hold a tune to save my life with). 

Dressed in a pair of what looked like some serious Doc Marten combat boots, black leather pants and a casual top, Kreviazuk's melodies were a complete contrast to the funky and trendy look that she appeared in. Her heart warming and at times very poignant lyrics gave me goosebumps. 

Kreviazuk was playfully interactive with her audience as she joked about the marriage anecdotes which had the audience in laughter. There was a moment that gave me shivers: she sang one of her new songs called "I love you" which was written about and to her loving husband. Without a doubt the audience felt her intense energy and raw emotion that exuded from her commanding vocals. I was completely captivated by the moment that the entire audience shared!

After the show, we walked to the main outdoor site and picked up a very late but good dinner at Bistro SAQ, which is an indoor bubble/tent/enclosure that’s served up a lovely French Onion Soup and PLT (porchetta, lettuce and tomatoes) for Jay, along with a pseudo Croque Monsieur for Brigitte.

After the concert, I was starving (which is a common affliction of mine) and we saw the interesting 'bubble' like dome that I had seen photos of in the media campaign advertising the festival. Naturally, I wanted to see what it was all about.

Bistro SAQ offers patrons with a varied selection of spirits to enjoy and a handful of small meals to sate your midnight cravings. Jay and I did our best to select some 'traditional' French meals seeing that we were here. The French onion I must admit was killer! There was a right amount of cheese to bread ratio for us to both enjoy. But the piece de resistance was the broth! This broth was amazing and I can see how this would bode well had the temperatures been colder than what were experiencing (a mind blowing 16 degrees). 

As our mini 'main meals' we had a PLT (their take on a BLT but with porchetta) and a version of a Croque Monsieur. My Croque Monsieur was tasty, however, it wasn't baked in the true classic way that sees a beautiful rich cheese sauce that envelops the ham and cheese sandwich. Nonetheless, it was fitting to our late night feeding session.

Even though it was 10:45 when we arrived and the outdoor site closed at 11:00, there were a couple hundred people milling around the area either on the massive Ferris wheel, ziplining, enjoying the music, and dining on food-truck offerings, as well as Bistro SAQ menu items.

That wrapped up a short yet fun day one for us. 
Stay tuned for day two’s adventures!