So you’re staying in a cool downtown studio and already feel more like a local than a tourist. But take a walk down Saint Catherine Street and you may end up convinced that Montreal is just a long loop of high-street stores and cafes like Zara, H&M, and Starbucks. If you want to shop for something other than mass-produced clothing and logoed coffee cups, you’ll need to know where the locals shop. Here’s a quick start guide:
Clothing: For something a little different, leave the downtown core and head to the Plateau Neighborhood. Here you can walk the length of Mont Royal, from Parc Avenue to just past Papineau, before strolling down St. Laurent or St. Denis streets. The area is packed full of independent boutiques, stocking everything from Quebecois jewellery to organic cotton yoga clothes.
Food: With so many incredible markets in the city, there’s no excuse for buying snacks from chain cafes or souvenirs from the overpriced stores in the old port. Head to Jean Talon Market if you need sustenance – you’ll find fresh fruit, cheese, baked goods, and crepes, while Atwater Market is a great place for edible souvenirs such as maple cookies, home-cured pickles, and local jams.
Antiques: Check out the gems just off the main ‘Village’ strip, namely on Amherst between St. Catherine and Sherbrooke. Another great area for ancient treasures is on Notre Dame Street between Guy and Atwater. And if you can’t afford the pricey pieces, there’s also a massive Salvation Army here, where you can root around for hidden surprises like china, silverware, and light fixtures.
Art: If you’ve got cash to burn, check out the private galleries clustered around the Museum of Fine Arts on Sherbrooke. But if you’re looking for something a little more modern you should check out the Contemporary Art Museum gift shop in Place des Arts, or the Puces Pop art festival, which has unique offerings from local artists and designers and happens in the Spring, Fall and just before Christmas.