Get us in your inbox

Verdun
Photograph: Caroline Perron

The 20 best things to do in Verdun

Drift on the river, chill on the beach, find culture in the streets, go thrifting and more of the best things to do in Verdun

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki
Advertising

Editor's note, October 26 2020: As fall comes to its early end—the winter equinox always feels like it's coming sooner than its official date of December 21—and snow is inbound? Plus the ongoing pandemic? The best things to do in Verdun can't (understandably) be enjoyed to their fullest. That said, we've done our best to highlight this nieghbourhood's heights in entertainments, sights, sounds, culture and activities that you can enjoy all year and will adjust the selection accordingly as time goes on.

When you take its burgeoning food and drink scene, its attractions, its generally good vibes and its entertainments—all of it—into consideration, the best things to do in Verdun isn't your average laundry list. As you'll find with any neighbourhood, Verdun restaurants and bars give the borough a lot of charm and character, but so do its community activies, shopping at its bookstores and vintage thrift stores, its parks, and more. Whether it's for summer fun or winter wonders, Verdun's got more than enough to merit a visit/stay/signed lease at any time of year.

RECOMMENDED: Your ultimate Verdun neighbourhood guide

These are the best things to do in Verdun

Hit the beach
Photograph: Mathieu B. Morin

Hit the beach

It's something a lot of locals in the area won't stop touting: Verdun's sporting its own beach. Opening officially in 2019, it gave Montrealers another spot to dip their toes in some sand and surf—apart from flocking to Jean-Doré on Parc Jean Drapeau every summer—and it's a modest place to do so. The season usually runs from June to September (it did in 2020 anyway), and it's a great place during the day for families and a (literally) cool spot to go for older crowds in the early evening when the sun's still up.

Check out the city's best urban sugar shack festival
Photograph: Caroline Perron

Check out the city's best urban sugar shack festival

Cabane Panache et Bois rond is a urban sugar shack festival that's been happening in Verdun for a decade now—only postponed for its 2020 year due to the pandemic—and it's Montrealers' best bet for experiencing Quebec's time-honored sugar shacks without having to drive past the city limits. Local businesses sell their wares, there's maple taffy served off snow, beer taps are flowing and there's a lot of good music playing as it runs its course. Wear your best flannel jacket, boots and smile: It's a major party when it's on.

Advertising
Watch giant puppets wander the streets
Photograph: Caroline Perron

Watch giant puppets wander the streets

Another festival that's been running for a decade in Verdun, the Festival Marionnettes Plein la rue features puppets of every sort—giant, small and everything in between—in pop-up performances up and down the borough's main strip of Wellington. Featured at different spots with different times, there's something to see every which way you look when you want to check it out, and all the performances are free. Great for the kids and fun to check out no matter your age, it's an experience unlike any other in the city.

Visit Verdun's open-air pop-up cinema
Caroline Perron

Visit Verdun's open-air pop-up cinema

Every year, the organization behind Ciné-Verdun puts on film screening pop-ups throughout the borough which four screening locations. Whether it's by the river, atop a parking garage, inside a greenhouse, or on the walls of a church, it's a great place to experience some open-air cinema in the area before you continue the night with a couple drinks and/or a meal elsewhere in the area. The season starts when summer's in motion, so pay them a visit around June to get an idea of what they have planned.

Advertising
Stock up for a picnic or a wine 'n' cheese
Photograph: Vincent Mesure

Stock up for a picnic or a wine 'n' cheese

Among all the places to grab some fine cheeses, saucissons and other tiny bites, Fromagerie Copette & Cie reigns supreme in the area. They've also been sourcing breads from Arhoma, fresh pasta and more to grab for dinner at another time, but if you don't plan on a big shopping trip, it's equally worth a visit for a simple pastry or two. Hot tip: Visit on the weekend to get some Belgian waffles that are dusted in sugar.

Guzzle craft beers and Quebec wines
Photograph: Caroline Perron

Guzzle craft beers and Quebec wines

There's a lot of decent craft beer shops in Montreal, but we've got some major love for the curatorial work of the staff at Maltéhops. They're knowledgeable and friendly, ready to help you find your next favourite beer, and—bonus—they're doing good work with picking out Quebec wines you won't find at the SAQ. You want sours? No problem, they've got a dozen to pick from. Prefer stouts? They've got twice as many from the province. Since they're retail, the shop is able to do delivery as well, so show some love and order up.

Advertising
Hike or bike along the Saint-Lawrence
Photograph: Caroline Perron

Hike or bike along the Saint-Lawrence

One of Verdun's crowning aspects is that it's got a lot of greenspace to cover. The last time we counted, the borough's southern, Saint-Lawrence-facing side features as many as six huge parks plus a few more, give or take. If it's summer, grab a Bixi and ride lengths of it to discover the pools, volleyball courts, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and more, or go for a woodsy stroll behind École secondaire Monseigneur-Richard and see if you can spot the resident beavers that have a dam in the area (seriously, we're not joking about that last part). 

Peruse the selections of local bookshops
Photograph: Caroline Perron

Peruse the selections of local bookshops

If you're looking for the latest in Quebec literature, La Librairie de Verdun has some snazzy selections to pick from (plus a home décor and kitchen and home bar equipment shop to get some sleek new tools). If looking through gently-loved titles is more your thing, go to Les Bons Débarras for secondhand treasures in both English and French. Both can yield some great finds, and both have staff that are quick-witted and chatty when you want a recommendation.

Advertising
Experience of the city's best sidewalk sales
Photograph: Caroline Perron

Experience of the city's best sidewalk sales

When Verdun has its sidewalk sales, they're massive. This is when nearly every single shop on Wellington—from the army surplus store to discount shoes—set up some kind of rack or stall, and there are deals galore to dig through. It's been growing every year as well, with bars and restaurants setting up terrasses and a few foodie curios setting up shop where they didn't have storefronts before. There's normally one on the weekend of June 7 to 9, plus another back-to-school one on the weekend of August 23 to 25 (though those dates can change to match weekends of subsequent years).

Geek out with board games
Photograph: Jeux Face a Face / @JeuxFaceAFaceInc / Facebook

Geek out with board games

Board game and card game aficionados: You're home. The Montreal location of this gaming and geeking shop Face to Face—the other's in Toronto—and the amount of supplies you can get here are staggering. They specialize in Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon cards, but they'll hit the catalogues if you want to make special requests, and they have weekly slaes for anyone looking to stack their decks with special cards. They've been known to host some Warhammer games as well, and have great board games to pick from.

Advertising
Practice your aim
Photograph: U SHOOT / ushoot.ca

Practice your aim

Not every neighbourhood can say they've got a BB gun shooting range in its midst. At U SHOOT, there a full-on range to pop off a couple rounds at targets alone to blow off steam or with friends to have some fun. You don't need to have any kind of license to go, and they've a wide range of air guns to pick from; choose either the sport or recreational package and, if you can, make a plan to go with a group of friends so you can take advantage of their group discount.

Get some serious thrifting done
Photograph: Boutique Brock-Art / @brockartmtl / Facebook

Get some serious thrifting done

If you're on Wellington, most folks like to go to the area's Renaissance and recently-arrived Salvation Army to get their hands on some cheap clothing, books, kitchenware, records and other fun oddities, but try hunting down another two on Wellington: There's La chance with it's stacked-floor-to-ceiling selection of whatever the owner feels like carrying at the time, plus the more boutique offerings of Brock Art where you can find some real finds. Just don't be shocked with the latter's prices; you're getting some really prized antiques there.

Advertising
Party on top of a parkade
Photograph: Courtesy Promenade Wellington

Party on top of a parkade

It's a major project in the making that's already seeing a lot of leaps and bounds: Camp Éthel, the top floor of Verdun's central parking garage, has been the site of all kinds of events and parties in the past. It's most recently played host to guided yoga, parties that feature DJs and the area's bars, and pop-up cinemas (mentioned earlier); all of it brings an otherwise empty part of the borough to life. Even the 2020 pandemic couldn't stop it, and we're all looking forward to the day the borough plans to turn it into a year-round activation spot in 2022. Look at the 3D renderings of the area's SDC here.

Visit a glorious central church
Photograph: Caroline Perron

Visit a glorious central church

With a site dating back to 1899 and its construction completed and consecrated in 1929, the Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs church at the centre of Verdun—the church which gives the Metro station De l'Eglise its name—is a massive and hallowed spot to experience Quebec's roots in Catholicism. Now unifying three parishes in one, the church is home to masses and organ performances, and its front steps are where a lot of musical pop-ups during the summer tend to take place. 

Advertising
Hit the ice
Photograph: Arrondissement de Verdun / @arrondissementdeverdun

Hit the ice

Come winter, most bets are off in Verdun—and the rest of Montreal for that matter—save for winter sports and fun (plus that urban sugar shack event we mentioned). If you're the type to go outside, Verdun's got several ice skating rinks that are worth sharpening your skates for, particularly at Bleu Blanc Bouge in Willibrord Park. Open once the ice comes daily from 9am to 10pm, it's big enough to accommodate hockey games and free skates. If you're not one one for ice skating at all, head over to Arthur Therrien Park for the only sizeable sliding hill in the area.

Catch the waves
Photograph: Espace NAVI / Facebook

Catch the waves

What's a borough's situation alongside the Saint-Lawrence River without a company doing wakeboard and kayak rentals? Located with the Natatorium, Navi offers self-guided tours where you grab your gear and head on onto the water in the summer. They also have wakeboarding and wakesurfing for the more adventurous, as well as private charters for groups of six people that take you out on the water for some high-speed fun. Nothing beats the heat like some rushing water and wind in your hair.

Advertising
Grab a damn fine cup of coffee
Photograph: Station W / @Station.W.Verdun / Facebook

Grab a damn fine cup of coffee

Truth be told, there are several cafés in Verdun that are worth a trip, but the Café Saint-Henri outpost located inside Sweet Lee's bakery and Station W are serving the best cuppas in the area. Both cafés will make it any way you want it, and both cafés come with their own snacks both sweet and savory: While Saint-Henri's bolstered by being next to one of the best bakeries in Montreal, Station W is making their own, and they do a great job of it; just ask for a slice of the chocolate raspberry cake and get back to us.

Go green
Photograph: Grand Potager / grandpotager.ca

Go green

The Grand Potager is a series of municipal greenhouses in Verdun that does planting events for citizens in the area (though anyone is welcome to attend). It's a great place to learn about greenhouses, enhance your green thumb skills, and to check out a bunch of other activities they have going on. It also acts as a space to grow and buy local produce, and it'll only get better once they launch the garden cantre project in 2021 that will sell seeds, natural fertilizers and edible plant varieties. It ain't just for gardening either; they host all kinds of cultural events too.

Advertising
Snack on sumptuous pastries and treats
Photograph: Alice & Theo / @aliceandtheo / Facebook

Snack on sumptuous pastries and treats

Slowly but surely, Verdun's been receiving more and more pastry shops and spots to grab ice cream. Old guards like Boulangerie Patisserie Wellington and Patisserie Wawel are great for fresh croissants and Polish donuts respectively, but places like Sweet Lee'sAudacieuse Vanille and the even newer Alice & Theo have been stealing the show, with the latter making gorgeous items like the Saint-Honoré cake pictured above. Wherever you go, there's a wealth of sweet treats to enjoy on the spot, at home in winter, or by the water in the summer.

Dance until you drop
Photograph: Alexanne Brisson

Dance until you drop

Once the summer and current circumstances allow it, we can't wait for when Jazz Fest is back in town, and that goes double for when Verdun's satellite stage for the festival returns. 2019 marked its first year, and it was an immediate success, turning the entirety of Wellington Street into one great big party full of the sounds of music styles like gospel choirs while local painters put up murals. We're crossing our fingers, toes, legs and arms in hopes that this will be back in 2021, stronger than ever.

More neighbourhood guides for Montreal

Advertising
Advertising
Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising

    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!