Comfortable, flawless hospitality is a balancing act -- an easygoing atmosphere on one hand, first-rate accommodations and food on the other. Not everyone can pull this off, but Mireille Lauzon at Le Terre Nostra in Montreal's Verdun arrondissement gets it perfect.
The four bedrooms, decorated tastefully with travel themes (Afrika, Asia, etc.), work best for couples. But there was enough space in the Afrika room for a temporary bed for our 11-year-old son, who was quite comfortable. Well-behaved children are welcome at Terre Nostra, and it's a great way to introduce kids to this rewarding style of lodging -- so much more personal and interesting than a hotel.
The house at 722 rue Beatty, just off Wellington, was built in 1927 and retains its charm through the careful updating that Mlle. Lauzon has done. The backyard garden, brimming in summer with purple clematis and other stunning flowers, is a beautiful respite any time of day, girded on its sides by tall, narrow oaks that we wish we could grow in Florida. It's a great place to watch the stars come out with a glass of wine.
And in fine weather, it's the site of a highlight of your day: breakfast. Mireille is an enthusiastic and skilled cook, and her breakfasts are the best fuel for a day of walking around Montreal and enjoying its many activities. Our first day began with a strawberry-melon smoothie flavored with rose water (!). Then along came tiny muffins spiked with chocolate chips and flavored just enough with orange essence.
Entrees vary, and you have to wait a long time to see a repeat. One standout was a fine croissant, sliced crosswise and stuffed with sliced pears and a little cream cheese and cinnamon (nutmeg too); the top of the croissant is then soaked in egg, French-toast-style, and capped back onto the bottom and the pears. Pour over a little extra egg, bake in a ramekin for a few minutes, and the angels start to sing.
Every morning was like this: an innovative and delicious fruit juice, mini muffins or tiny quiches, and then a delightful main course. Plus good strong coffee and, as our son discovered, some excellent teas.
Of course, the usual way to get the most out of a B&B is to concentrate on the B and the B: get a good night's sleep and a solid breakfast. Le Terre Nostra goes beyond the basics, though, and it would be a shame to miss some of the nice details that enhance the experience. We've already mentioned the garden...keep an eye out for Mireille's eye for Asian art. A chaste copper Buddha poses atop a garden table. The table itself is distinctive, beautified by a slab of rough-edged, natural stone as a tabletop instead of dull wood slats.
Another Buddha, a bigger one with some green-tinted oxidation, watches over the cozy front parlor. There's a TV in there, in a Thai-style rough wood bureau, with video games and the like for sofa relaxing. Art of all kinds adorns the walls, and jewelry made by a friend of Mireille's is on sale as well.
Upstairs, check out the well-stocked library: everything from botany to Peter Mayle to John Cheever short stories, and travel guides from everywhere Mireille has been. A small fridge in the hallway has bottled water, and there's plenty of room for wine or snacks you might want to chill.
As for convenience, Le Terre Nostra couldn't be better: just steps from the bus stop, and a quick ride (or pleasant 15-minute walk up eclectic rue Wellington) to the De l'Eglise metro stop. From there, one of North America's most fascinating city awaits you.
But start with a good base. Le Terra Nostra is it. Bienvenue, and bon appetit.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.