Every year, many of us roll our eyes when grocery and drug stores start playing staid Christmas tunes, seemingly seconds after the pumpkins of Hallowe’en disappear for the year. All we want to do is pick up a quick broccoli salad and a bag of organic chips, in quiet and peace. By mid month though these songs are like a steady drum beat on the brain.

Old Montreal serves as kind of a Christmas balm for the soul, a Cat 5 cable connecting what’s magical about the holiday season with the inner you. Old Montreal is one of our nation’s jewels – the oldest area in the city, declared a “historic district” in 1964, with buildings dating back to the 17th century – New France days.

Your arrival there marks a re-generation of sorts. Old Montreal is a magical place where you feel transformed far away from the crass commercialism that seems to mark the season.

IMAGES COURTESY JOHN RADDI

We always recommend heading out for an early morning walk. Last year we left our St. Paul St. hotel just after 7 a.m., Christmas week, just after daybreak. Snow was falling lightly, the temperature had hit well below sub-zero. It was still and silent, just the distant click of the horses’ hooves from the carriages hitting the cobblestone streets, all under the twinkling lights and festive decorations and Santa Claus figurines.

Okay, we said, now we get it. We finally shook off our Grinch-like armour, and went for our morning coffee. You are in the middle of everything – art galleries, world-class dining, eclectic shops, and the district’s iconic architecture.

Head to Montreal Tourism for more information.

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS

Top off 2017 with a walk down to Old Port, for the big New Year’s Eve celebration. Fireworks, ice skating at the Natrel Skating Rink, live performances – join up to 70,000 of your fellow revellers in a safe, friendly environment. www.oldportofmontreal.com

Image: oldportofmontreal.com

WHERE TO STAY IN OLD MONTREAL

HOTEL EPIK: Stylish, boutique luxury hotel, just ten cozy rooms and suites, 171 Saint-Paul St. W., www.epikmontreal.com, 514-842-2634

W HOTEL: Modern, contemporary luxury, sleek, sexy, steps from Old Montreal and a lengthy list of downtown Montreal attractions. 901 Square Victoria, www.wmontrealhotel.com, 514-395-3100

Images: Courtesy W Hotel

HOTEL NELLIGAN: Lavish rooms and suites, matching contemporary luxury comforts with exposed, classic century-old stone walls. 106 rue Saint-Paul St. W., Montreal, 514-788-2040, www.hotelnelligan.com

Image: hotelnelligan.com