The real joy of shopping in Montreal comes from the availability of a wide variety of handmade and other locally produced goods not easily found elsewhere. These goods range from apparel to artworks to food products and alcohol.
Your best choices for holiday shopping include the boutiques that line rue St. Denis and St. Laurent in the Plateau District, where you'll find chic clothing and original accessories often at bargain prices.
Old Montreal is ideal for more upscale gift items, including both decorative and functional glassware, arts and crafts and sculptures and paintings. The two main markets – Jean Talon in North Montreal and the Atwater Market in the west end of downtown – are ideal for the foodie on your list and those who appreciate Quebec wines and spirits.
Montreal's top holiday shoppings spots include Atwater Market — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell / Active City Travel
On early winter mornings, Liliane Colpron – CEO of Premiere Moisson (First Harvest) bakery in the Atwater Market – may present her collection of seasonal chocolates in red and green wrapping paper, which double as decorations for the counter tops. Like all of her products, the confections contain only prime ingredients with no additives.
“Those of us who choose to work in the food industry have a responsibility to feed the public safe, healthy food,” says the trim mother of three adult children, all part owners. “And it needn’t be expensive.”
In a nearby market shop, Chocolats Privilege offers samples of their dark chocolate with candied ginger pieces. Co-Owner Ludovic Fresse raves about his new series of holiday workshops on chocolate production, which allows participants to take home their tasty creations.
Next door at Montreal's favorite cheese shop, La Fromagerie Atwater, Owner Gilles Jourdenais stocks over 1,000 mostly local Quebec cheeses, deli items and even Quebec microbrewery beer, perfect for holiday souvenir gifts and entertaining.
Look no further than L'art des Artisans du Quebec for high-end crafts handmade by artists from Montreal and the rest of Québec. Here on Ste. Catherine St. West, you'll find textiles, wood carvings and blown glass - all great gift items.
To complete your holiday shopping list, continue further west along the same street, taking in the holiday decorations along the way to Simons, Quebec's department store. Here’s where you’ll find contemporary fashions from young Quebec designers; they're often on sale, as the collection changes seasonally.
Don't forget to grab something for yourself, like a new winter toque (hat) and matching scarves, gloves and mittens in a rainbow of trendy patterns and colors to warm up the dark days of winter.