Montreal, Je t’aime!
Our city shines brightest at this epic time of year... When the Grand Prix festival hits our city, it strikes like a meteor, bringing out thousands of vendors and race enthusiasts alike, as they scramble to bask in the energy and frenzy of it all. It truly is my favorite time of year!
Offering up a copious itinerary, this year's Grand Prix festivities did not disappoint. Personally, those days of back-to-back events that run for an entire week are long gone for me (for now!). However, while trying to keep my mommy head above water, I managed to attend some of the exciting parties on the roster.
The festival officially began on Wednesday, June 8, and by exclusive invitation only, I attended the chic pop-up beach La Plage Moët & Chandon at Maison Boulud in the Ritz Carlton Hotel. This party offered up three key elements; the best vibes, a beautiful design by Le Living Décor, and frozen champagne slushies with fresh fruit - a must for my next dinner party!
Next, I quietly snuck away to the Musée des Beaux Arts à Montreal to checkout the MBAMxEtsy collaboration, which honors 11 Quebec artists by showcasing their products as a tribute to Montreal's 375th birthday, a city that continues to inspire them. I promise to share more on this momentous exhibit/marketplace experience in an upcoming post!
Then, back to the Ritz Carlton I went for 'En Mode Piscine', a VIP engagement hosted by Holt Renfrew and Maison Ogilvy for their top clientele. The pool featured whimsical synchronized swimmers and unlike so many of the other race-related events that showcase scantily-clad girls working the room, this party was overrun with young men dressed up as shirtless lifeguards. This was breath of fresh air indeed!
The following day, I popped into the revamped Belvedere Terrace, which was relocated to Old Montreal between L'Auberge Saint Gabriel and the Vieux-Port Steakhouse. Garnering a South of France vibe and motif, there were many highlights; the terrace itself was huge and beautiful, with 6 pools, daybeds, the sounds of top DJs, pop up champagne brunches, eats by famed Miami restaurant Villa Azur and not to mention Belvedere Vodka to name a few...
Next, I walked over to L'Auberge Saint Gabriel for their Red Carpet BBQ, also known as the formal kick-off to the Formula-1 weekend. This wasn't your ordinary garden party, not when Top Chef Martin Juneau (Restaurant Pastaga) is manning the grill. DJs Abeille and Adrien Mitchell helped make the energy intoxicating. You could really feel the love for our city... this weekend was going to be unparalleled.
My last stop for the evening was at the W Hotel for a VIP cocktail hosted by Dressed to Kill Magazine, a publication that provides Canadian fashion talents an international platform. In addition to the business people, athletes, and artists who were in attendance, DTK's very first 'Montreal Fashion Night' highlighted Quebec fashion industry mavens BODYBAG BY JUDE, Denis Gagnon, Duy, LAMARQUE, L’MOMO, Markantoine, Marie Saint Pierre, Philippe Dubuc, V-Franz, Véronique Miljkovitch, UNTTLD. I feel very proud to be a part of a city that inspires fashion that the world can experience.
With all of these parties I was beginning to really miss my family so on Friday, I made sure to spend as much time as I could with them before gearing up for what turned out to be another wildly spectacular Grand Prix weekend.
I kicked it into high gear first thing that Saturday morning with a stop at the Belvedere Terrace - I just couldn't resist going back there and, as l suspected, the atmosphere was off the charts! The scene was designed to give off a Parisian chic vibe, and the venue quickly filled up with a sea of party-goers ready to embrace what the weekend had to offer. Among the notable sponsors was, once again, Villa Azur Miami, renowned for their amazing cuisine and kinship to famed South Beach property and International brand 'Nikki Beach'. Needless to say this was not an industry standard brunch, but more of a daytime extravaganza whereby the excitement was palpable from corner to corner... I honestly can't wait for next year!
Next, I was back at the W Hotel for their Pit Stop Lounge event. This was like finding an oasis in the desert. With DJ Florence Masson at the turn table, champagne flowing, and a tropical ambiance, I entered the girls lounge not really grasping the extent to which I would get my glam on! I started out with an organic Bio Bronze Spray tan, followed by a manicure by Candy Nail Bar. Next I had a 15 minute skin beauty session with Esthederm, a makeup application by a Guerlain professional, and eyelash extensions followed by a blow-dry from Wonderblush. Not only did I get pampered to the max, but I was also ready for the night ahead. What a genius concept!
I wrapped up my Saturday festivities with a private BBQ at the home of Guy Laliberte. My husband and I attend this soirée every year and it never fails to be among some of the most special memories we have of the Grand Prix. It's always an eclectic gathering of artists and celebrities and this year was no different... among them was the ever-so-charming Michael Douglas. Sadly, no pics this time because he has a strict 'no photos allowed' policy.
Finally, the big day had arrived: Sunday, race day, and the world would have its eyes on our little city. Truth be told, I inherited my passion for the Grand Prix from my dad. For as long as I can remember, I would watch the race with him. Sunday's race was no different and this adrenaline-packed legacy is perfectly aligned with the festival's gravitational pull to Montreal. Perhaps Louis Hamilton feels it too, after all, this isn't his first win in our beautiful city!
There were several post-race events but the one that takes the cake was the Grande Finale ultra-VIP party at L'Auberge Saint Gabriel. The drivers were all in attendance, along with celebrities and models, beats were spun by DJ Alain Vinet and the madness of it all helped close out another amazing Formula-1 weekend in Montreal.
On a personal note, if I didn't feel it before, I can safely say that I recognize I'm not 20 anymore. With 3 kids and a very full family life, I was unable to attend every party. Weekends like these drain some of my energy reserves and prompts me to ask myself, was it worth it? My answer: an unequivocal YES!
Photography by Patricia Brochu