Outgoing Montreal mayor Denis Coderre says he devoted all his energy, passion and heart to making the city a better place.

In the end, though, voters opted for the upstart Valérie Plante on Sunday, in an election-night stunner.

"The people always have the final word, and you have to respect that," an emotional Coderre said Tuesday, as he reflected on his time as mayor.

"I feel proud, I feel humble, I feel privileged.... It was a great moment for me. To be there as an actor of change, to make a true difference in people's lives." 

Speaking to reporters at city hall, Coderre took pains to retrace what he saw as the highlights of his four years in power: taking on corruption, improving relations with Indigenous people and achieving metropolis status, a designation that, he said, will allow his successor more control over city policy. 

Investments in infrastructure and public transit, including the planned light-rail system, will pay dividends in the years to come, he said. 

"We've done in four years what would have been done in 15," he said.

What's next? Vacation, for starters

Coderre, who has been involved in politics nearly his entire adult life, said he has no immediate plans, besides taking a break.

"It's the first time, probably, that I will go on vacation without my phone ringing. That's interesting," the former Liberal MP and cabinet minister said.

Denis Coderre's emotional farewell0:37

Discussions are already underway to determine who will be the interim leader of Équipe Denis Coderre, the party formed for his 2013 run for the mayoralty.

Lionel Perez, who retained his seat in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, is one of the names being put forward, CBC News has learned.

Plante's rise, Coderre's fall

Coderre, who was elected mayor in 2013, was the heavy favourite heading into the election. But he failed to capture the imagination of voters with a campaign based largely on his record. 

He was criticized for spending millions on showy projects to celebrate Montreal's 375th birthday and for his handling of the Formula E race. 

He also drew the ire of dog lovers when he introduced legislation last year to ban pit bulls from the city.

Plante, 43, is the first woman to be elected mayor of Montreal.

With files from The Canadian Press