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Metro Roulette: Acadie

Posted by Greg / June 22, 2009

20080622-AcadieInside.jpgI was pretty excited when my turn on the roulette wheel came up Acadie. The blue line station is located between two neighborhoods I've always intended on exploring: Ville de Mont-Royal (more commonly TMR) and Parc-Extension. The two are different in more ways that I could possibly list here, but one important and perhaps overlooked similarity is their oddly geometrical presence on Montreal city maps. TMR is a perfect square that falls out of sync with the larger Montreal grid while Parc-Ex is a perfect rectangle with a slice missing. When you're not from here and you spend the month before moving excitedly studying a map of your future city, these things stick out, and create a special aura around such places. What goes on in these mysterious square lands?

Of course that was about seven years ago, and prior to writing this post, my knowledge of TMR and Parc-Ex had progressed far beyond the "square lands" thing. Now it was time to spend a solid day looking around.

Unlike most relics of the 1980s, the Acadie metro station has aged nicely, its faux-futuristic, space station-chic aesthetic every bit as awesome as the day it was built. Probably an unconscious choice, the inside decor is very Blade Runner meets Hoth (the ice planet in The Empire Strikes Back) meets the first half of Back to the Future: Part II. All of this is to say, I fucking love it.

We started by locating Boulevard de l'Acadie, the road dividing the two neighborhoods, and making sure we were moving in the right direction. Here you can see my friend prudently pointing out our route while I intensely push my fingers against the map, as if to suck its contents into my brain via a Vulcan mind meld. 20090622-Map.jpgWe proceeded north until we hit the lower edge of TMR. Originally built in the early 1900s as part of the City Beautiful movement, TMR is a planned town with perfectly laid out streets, perfectly located parks and schools, etc. In fact it is so perfect that it hardly feels like the city of Montreal, more akin to the suburbs in the West Island or perhaps the neighborhood of NDG, and yet it lies just between Outremont and Cote des Neiges, and just across the mountain from downtown. The houses look nothing like anything you'd find anywhere else in Montreal, intermittently sporting 60s and 70s styles alongside Greco-Roman columns. It's a little bizarre, but also powerfully entrancing. We made comparisons with just about every semi-suburban area we've ever visited: Columbia, MD, Red Bank, NJ, various areas around Los Angeles, and pretty much all of Ottawa outside of downtown, to name a few.

Perhaps in an effort to make the area seem more "natural," many of the yards had
rustic gardens, fountains and waterfalls, and various outdoorsy stone constructions. One person even had a well in their front yard, which Mike studied closely (his findings: not a real well).20090623-Well.jpgMoving east and passing through a gate into Parc-Ex (there really is a string of gates along l'Acadie), we returned to the familiar grittiness of urban Montreal. Parc-Ex is widely known for its large South Asian population and correspondingly good South Asian food. By "good," I mean absolutely ridiculously AMAZING, and also pretty cheap. The area also features scores of idiosyncratic, "can't get this anywhere else"-type stores, like the Bongo Bazar (below), and The Little Shoppe, which I just learned about from Laura's post earlier today.20090622-Bongo.jpgWe waked east along Jarry, passing the beautiful and huge Jarry Park, where we originally intended on roaming for a while until the rain started again. In any case, the park is worth visiting not least because its stadium was the home of the Montreal Expos from 1969-1976. We also passed the Hydro-Quebec building, another piece of faux-futuristic gold. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where your hydro bills are born.20090622-HydroQuebec.jpgAll and all a great day out - one that I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't explored these neighborhoods before. Check out TMR just for the experience, then spend an afternoon shopping and eating in Parc-Ex. Rent in Parc-Ex is pretty low for such a centrally located area, too, for those of you who are moving soon.

Now I want to end with a confession. Due to some travel-related time constraints, we didn't have a chance to sample the famous Indian food in Parc-Ex. I've consumed it before, through the form of take-out and leftovers at other people's houses, and I can confirm that it lives up to the hype, but I still haven't eaten it in Parc-Ex. I wonder if anyone can recommend particular restaurants that I (and our readers) should try in the future. Give me your favorites!



Tara / June 23, 2009 at 02:46 pm
Blade Runner meets obscure Star Wars reference meets Back to the Future? I've always thought of Acadie as 'the Cosby sweater station'. Grey! Black! Blue! Off-red! Patterned! Outremont's my favourite blue line station but Acadie comes a close second.
Sara / June 23, 2009 at 04:15 pm
I tried Bombay Mahal just last month. Indeed, it does live up to the hype. I highly recommend it. Delicious and non-expensive. :)
Veronique / June 23, 2009 at 04:48 pm
Bombay Mahal FTW!
Greg / June 23, 2009 at 05:24 pm
Good to know about Bombay Mahal. Maybe I'll review it when I come back home in September.

Also good call on the Cosby sweater comparison. Maybe a Cosby sweater from the ice planet of Hoth?
Sarah / June 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm
What about this for a poll question? Which Indian restaurant makes the best samosas? I love those buggers but I never know which Indian resto to get them from.
Meaghan / July 6, 2009 at 03:25 pm
Yes, Bombay Mahal is amazing. The prices just went up, though, following their renovation/expansion... but it's still much cheaper and better than any Indian place downtown.

For samosas I think Pushap's is pretty great, as long as you like vegetarian. A week or so ago we bought 10 for $4. Eaten by the pond in Parc Jarry, they were worth being harassed by ducks and gulls for! Pushap's can be hit or miss, in general, but they reliably have samosas for takeout (some busier spots don't unless it's a really quiet night) and they are cheaper than most other places.
fuck you / August 7, 2009 at 05:04 pm
park-x is a slum where you can buy any drug on any corner.
Yes there are good people there but not because they want to be.
i know, i've lived there since i was eight.
and yes i sold drugs and used and so did everyone else growing up.
now there are a handfull of us left and we still think this area is shit but we still love it. (i actually moved back)
but lets face it the restaurants have roaches (owners don't care).
and it's as bad as any slum in the world please think twice before coming here, and yes you will be robbed in broad daylight(not by me though, i'm too old!)
Food Lover / October 16, 2009 at 03:01 pm
Re : Samosas

Try Pushaps 975 Jean-Talon West

5 sams for 2$ !
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