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Spring is the time for sugaring off or collecting maple sap from trees. The best place to enjoy maple syrup is at a cabane à sucre or sugar shack. Menus include pea soup, baked beans, ham and crepes topped with maple syrup. Traditional music adds to the ambience.

Popular places to find maple syrup and maple sugar products in the Montreal area include: Cabane à sucre Millette, located at 1357 Saint-Faustin Street in Saint-Faustin, Canadian Maple Delights at 84 Saint-Paul Street East in Montreal, Marchés publics de Montreal and Sucrerie de la Montagne at 300 Saint-Georges Road in Rigaud.

Chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies

Easter is the time to buy chocolate bunnies, roosters and Easter eggs. Besides the popular Laura Secord shop in the Eaton Centre at 705 Sainte-Catherine Street West, Montreal has several artisanal chocolate shops: Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois at 162 Saint-Viateur Street West, ChocoBel at 374 de Castelnau Street East and La Maison Cakao at 5090 Fabre Street.

Coffee shops, tea salons and patisseries

For year-round refreshments, Montreal boasts tea salons like Esprit Thé — Jardins de Thé at 112 Laurier Avenue West, Maison de Thé Camellia Sinensis on 351 Emery Street, My Cup Of Tea at 73 De la Gauchetiàre Street West and Orienthe Montreal at 4511 Saint-Denis Street.

Montreal's artisanal pastry shops supply delicious treats to accompany your tea or coffee. Four of the most popular are: Patisserie Belge at 3485 du Parc Avenue, Patisserie Claude Postel et chocolat at 75 Notre-Dame Street West, Patisserie de Gascogne at 237 Laurier Street West and Patisserie Harnois at 1957A Papineau Street.

Montreal restaurants

At Robin des Bois (Robin Hood), on 4403 Saint-Laurent Blvd. diners can support charities by eating out. Staffed by volunteers, the innovative restaurant serves an haute cuisine menu made from fresh seasonal produce.

Les Deux Singes de Montarvie, on 176 Saint-Viateur Street West, serves French dishes made from foie gras, caramel, truffles, potatoes, lavender, apples and crab. The bistro's décor features designer lamps and modern Montreal art signed Guillaume Dupuis and Chris Mattia.

At ONoir, on 1631 Sainte-Catherine Street West, diners eat in total darkness. The restaurant strictly bans cell phones, matches, illuminated watches and other light-emitting devices, allowing diners to sense what it's like to be blind.

Jorge Spielmann, a blind pastor from Zurich, created the restaurant concept. ONoir donates five per cent of its profits to local charities. Les Ombres (shadows), a group of blind musicians and a mystery singer perform on Sundays.