There's something about travel that brings out the shopper in all of us - even if we don't like shopping at home. We all have a love/hate relationships with our clothes, and travel only heightens the emotions. We forget to pack something, or we need something unexpectedly, or we just want to see what Montréal has to offer that our own city may not. As a sophisticated and fashionable city, Montreal offers lots of great boutique shopping in addition to all the big box stores you're already familiar with. You'll be overwhelmed with choice. That's why 10Best compiles a list of the best clothing stores in town. From independent boutiques to upscale chains, to popular and well-established department stores, we tell you where to find terrific basics and quality fashions that will get you through any clothing crisis. Popular possibilities? Try La Maison Ogilvy and Boutique Marie Saint-Pierre. Looking for something more casual? Good quality souvenir clothing? We've got you covered - from head to toe. And the best part ? Good shopping is easy to find. Looking for boutiques? Cruise St. Laurent and St. Denis or Laurier Avenue. Looking for your big box and local department stores? Head to Ste. Catherine St. West downtown.
Strategically located in front of Place-des-Arts and the Place des Festivals, the Complexe Desjardins houses 110 stores, a hotel, food court and several restaurants. You'll find the usual big brand names, a few bargain stores and some specialty boutiques. What makes this shopping center so attractive is the vast public plaza filled with natural light and plants where concerts, events and presentations are held throughout the year. During the Jazz festival, shows and workshops take place here. It's connected to the Underground City and within walking of the Quartier des spectacles (Entertainment District), Chinatown, Ste Catherine street and other attractions. (514-281-1870, 514-845-4636)
The beautiful domed tower of the historic Marche Bonsecours is one of the most recognizable buildings in Old Montreal. It shares the same name as the nearby church. In the past, this building has served as a public market, a concert hall, Montreal's city hall and even the Parliament of Lower Canada. It became a permanent public market in 1859 and remains a popular spot renowned for housing 15 artisan boutiques highlighting Quebec artists, designers and artisans. Look for original creations from members of Le Conseil des metiers d'art du Quebec (Quebec's Craft Council). Enjoy a great selection of cafes, bistros and restaurants as well. (514-872-7730)
The 9,000-square-foot shop, in the Beaux Arts Dominion Square Building on Ste Catherine St. west, is a series of small bright rooms of white marble and oak floors, decorative columns and vintage Parisian furniture. Originating in Toronto, this oft-imitated but still unique, Club Monaco brand, features minimalist styles in monochromatic colors. For men (and women), this translates to finding the perfect white shirt, refined blazer and lean cut trouser for work or play. In addition to the clothes, check out the popular Myriade Café, which serves its signature Parallel brew, as well as baked goods from Hof Kelsten. Also on offer: books from Drawn & Quarterly and Quebec jams, jellies, honey and oils from Société-Orignal. (514-499-0959)
La Maison Ogilvy
This department store has offered fashionistas great clothing options amid British shopping traditions since 1866. Venerable British brand Aquascutum is well-represented as is the store's proprietary label and Paul & Shark, Montréal-based sportswear designer. Bagpipers still announce the noon hour, and during December the famous Christmas windows are a sight to behold as are the Oak and the Tudor rooms - more like museums within a department store. As well as many boutiques under one roof, Ogilvy's offers made to measure services, personal shopping , parking spa,hair and beauty treatments, bridal services and fur storage - everything one would expect in a traditional high-end department store. (514-842-7711)
Simons is a real local gem in that it's easy to miss. Most travel guide sites fail to mention this quintessential Quebec department store. Simon's focuses on quality fashions for the whole family. A particularly good value is the Twik line - a unique Quebec designer brand of fun, casual fashions for women and girls. Of the seven locations throughout the province, The downtown Montreal store in the Ste.Catherine West shopping district is the most popular. If you can't find it amidst the miles of shops in the area, just ask anyone on the street and keep your eyes open for the green and white banners and awning. (514-282-1840)
This high-end department store has been serving Montréal's fashion elite since 1837 when it began as a hat shop. Customers can book the services of a personal shopper and alterations on full-price merchandise is always complimentary. These department stores are purveyors of top-notch designer labels and trends. Check out exclusives from Marc by Marc Jacobs and Burberry Prorsum. Snap up delicious fragrances from Molton Brown, Kiehl's skincare and Bobbi Brown's fabulous tinted moisturizer at the cosmetics counter. Lingerie from Agent Provocateur and great bags from Anya Hindmarch all figure prominently here. This downtown Montreal location also offers valet parking - a real plus in rush hour. (514-842-5111)
Boutique Marie Saint-Pierre
Maison Marie Saint Pierre is renowned for its use of unconventional fabrics and textures that balance natural and technological notions. Marie-Pierrre carries her expertise to furniture, leather goods and perfume as well as her upmarket collections. This award-winning designer and Montréal native is known for her fashion-forward apparel, unique for its vivid color combinations and well-crafted detailing. Much of her clothing is made at an in-town workshop, although savvy shoppers will find it carried in such world capitals as Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Even if you don't buy, a trip to the shop will let you peruse the latest styles and catch sight of the extravagant designs. (514-281-5547, 877-281-5547)
This fashionable shop/artists/designer's co-op sits on Montreal's hippest shopping street, St. Denis - home of the best boutique shopping in Montreal. Revenge - the name suggests Quebec designers showing up those from France - takes great pride in their local artisans and designers. These one-of-a kind pieces for both men and women of other Canadian designers can be found her too. Trusting in their talents and foresight, Revenge carries only garments they design. Using the store's success as a barometer, it's a strategy that is working beautifully. Plus, the relationship between designers and shop is beneficial to both parties. Montréal's residents reap the rewards, as well. (514-843-4379)
Not only will you find a huge selection of top of the line brands at Harry Rosen's but expert tailoring is also available on site. For top-quality merchandise for any business or social occasion, this clothier ensures that their clientele looks polished. Knowlegeable sales staff are on hand to help guide selections to build a business wardrobe. Choose suits from designers Boss, Armani or Zegnain, and complement the look with a Loro Piana shirt and Ferragamo shoes. Also find casual wear from Lacoste and Burberry. In the heart of Montreal, Harry's Montreal flagship has it all for the discerning man. From Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Brunello Cucinelli to Ermenegildo and Zegna to name just a few. Staff expertise extends to furnishings, sportswear, shoes and accessories. (514-284-3315)
Only two other Canadian provinces even offer Tristan locations but not nearly the number you'll find throughout Montreal and her suburbs. Spare, elegant shops all around town create the perfect backdrop of this Canadian chain's urban chic offerings for the fashion-forward guy or girl. The Sainte-Catherine Street location in the heart of Centre-Ville offers both business and casual wear, and everything from sport coats, shirts, belts and ties and perfume are affordable. Home of the washable suit and boiled wool jackets, the online shop also features a fantastic sales page where women's dresses can be had for as little as $25.00 (514-289-9609)
About Sherel Purcell
Sherel Purcell is a travel writer who specializes in golf, Montreal and Quebec, contemporary art, cycling and food and wine. Her articles appear on USA Today's 10Best, About.com, Aol, Matador, Vacay, Travel+Escape and other large sites as well as print magazines including Dreamscapes (Globe and Mail) and Frommer's Budget Travel. Her travel photos have appeared in the video, "A New York Minute" on the Smithsonian website and Brand USA. She has received an editorial award from Parenting Publications of America and a nomination from "See America".
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