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Shopping in Montréal: A Real Pleasure, and a Key City Attraction



Like most other things about Montreal, shopping is also a pleasure. From pleasant shopping streets that span at least eight city blocks and include trendy bars, restaurants and cafes with friendly staff to local markets and specialty craft shops, you'll find everything you need and want right here. 

No visit to Montreal is complete without at least one shopping excursion. In fact, choosing to visit Montreal specifically for the shopping experience isn't a bad idea. In other major cities, your best option is often a large, overcrowded shopping mall and while those exist in Montreal, they're not your only option.

From all the shops, stores, boutiques, ateliers and markets in the city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best offerings. We deliver a carefully vetted selection to let you explore Montréal shopping on your own. If your time here is really tight and you don't have the leisure to take it all in, we present our Best Shopping list for Montréal. All of our suggestions are easily accessible from downtown either by foot or public transportation.

Montréalers take their shopping seriously and there are hundreds of place to look for the perfect outfit, pair of shoes, accessory or something for the home and hearth. With so many choices, where do you begin? 10Best has narrowed it down to the best shopping areas to get you started on your shopping spree in Canada's fashion capital.


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10
East Montréal
Plaza St Hubert
Photo courtesy of Bonjour Quebec

Looking for a fashion bargain? Then head over to Plaza St. Hubert Street where over 400 merchants are gathered underneath the famous green awnings. Glitzy club wear and prom dresses figure prominently here and you'll find plenty of wedding dresses too. Founded in 1954, it's where serious shopaholics gather to find fantastic bargains on shoes, brand name clothing, formal wear, jewelry, lingerie, perfume, cosmetics, knick-knacks, electronic goods, games, textiles and food. There are also terrific restaurants and cafes along this street where you can refuel. The quality varies widely so pay careful attention to be sure to get the best value for your shopping dollar.

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Le Village Gai
Photo courtesy of Boutique Seconde Chance. Photo by Danny Lapierre. Courtesy of Tourisme Montreal.

It may be famous for its nightlife but Montréal's Gay Village also has some fun shops to visit. Stroll along Amherst Street to visit some of the quirky vintage shops such as Frip Frap selling anything that's worth buying. It's got quite the collection of retro tables and chairs. Second Chance is another vintage store selling popular items from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Visit G.O.D. for some heavenly men's fashions or KA·VIE·ART for collectibles made by Quebec artisans. The notorious Priape is an adult store famous for its wacky window displays. When you tire of shopping, head to the good selection of restaurants, cafes and bars.

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Complexe Desjardins
Photo courtesy of The main foyer. Photo courtesy of Complex Desjardins

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.

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The beautiful domed tower of the historic Marché 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 Québec artists, designers and artisans. Look for original creations from members of Le Conseil des métiers d'art du Québec (Québec's Craft Council). Enjoy a great selection of cafés, bistros and restaurants as well.

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Ste-Catherine Street
Photo courtesy of St Catherine at Peel Street. Courtest of Tourisme Montreal.

Ste. Catherine is one of the largest stretch of retail stores in Canada with access to over 1,200 merchants. Designer boutiques have sprung up in the area and attract well-to-do professionals and fashionistas alike. The district is especially popular with English-speaking residents and visitors. Montréal's iconic stores such as La Baie, Ogilvy, Simons, Holt Renfrew and Birks can be found here alongside the Eaton Center, Complexe Les Ailes, Place Montréal Trust, Les Cours Mont-Royal and the famous Underground City. Faubourg Ste. Catherine has a great food court and small market with speciality stores. Close by is the Les Ailes de la Mode,the 40-million-dollar shoppers' paradise.

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RÉSO (or La Ville Souterraine)
Photo courtesy of Montreal Trust Underground City by Stephan Poulin. Courtesy of Tourisme Montreal.

Montreal's winters are long and cold and summers short and hot, so it makes sense that a whole complex of indoor shopping has evolved. The Underground City is 19 miles of tunnels connecting over 60 commercial complexes and residences. Close to half a million people use the Underground city daily to access hotels, shopping malls, banks, corporate headquarters, museums, university buildings, seven metro stations, two commuter train stations, and the Bell Centre hockey arena. There are 120 above ground entrances and once below you can access Place Bonaventure, Windsor Station, Les Cours mount-Royal, Place Montreal Trust, the Eaton Centre, Place de la Cathedrale, Complexe Les Ailes de la Mode, the Stock Exchange Tower and the World Trade Center. In 2004 the Underground City was rebranded and given the name RESO/ La Ville Souterraine. Leave your winter coat back at the hotel, head underground and shop 'til you drop.

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L'avenue du Mont Royal
Photo courtesy of Corner store. Photo courtesy of L'avenue du Mont Royal.net

Funky Mont-Royal Avenue is the main street through Montreal's Plateau area. It is well known for its many "friperies", stylish second hand shops where you can design the "Montreal look" that has made the city famous as Canada's fashion center. There are over 300 merchants along this street, all selling something off-beat and unique. Shop for reasonably priced original products, cool hats and jewelry, great shoes, music, books and other accessories. Mount-Royal Avenue is a great place to rent or by a bike and to find some good restaurants including vegetarian places for lunch, dinner or just a coffee and pastry to keep up your shopping energy.

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3
Parc Mont-Royal
Boulevard St Laurent
Photo courtesy of Boutique M0851 by Mario Melillo. Courtesy of Toursime Montrel.

Since 1792, "The Main" has been the dividing line between the east and west sides of Montreal. Saint-Laurent Boulevard, a.ka. "the Main" is by far the busiest street in the city and the commercial hub of Montréal. The mélange of cultures here is reflected in the crazy mix of stores. There's everything from the high-end to the low-end in fashion, home furnishing, jewelry, books, music, collectibles and shoes. If you're in town for the sidewalk sales, held in the spring and fall, you're in for a shopping frenzy of bargains galore. The Main is also a great place for eating, drinking and dancing.

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The Plateau
Rue St Denis
Photo courtesy of Rue St Denis on a sunny afternoon, Courtesy of Tourisme Montreal

Along with great shopping, Rue Saint-Denis is the city's best hangout for drinks on the many patios while watching trend - setting locals. Take a walk between Mont-Royal Avenue and Sherbrooke Street and you'll be visiting the epicenter of Canadian trendy and hip fashion with many boutiques offering the latest from top Quebec's designers. You'll also find unique decor and wares for the home, exclusive cosmetics and perfumes, unique jewelry, books and music. This is also where shoppers gather for breakfast,lunch, dinner and drinks especially when the weather is warm and sunny. Evenings, when stores stay open late, is a good time to shop before heading out to the dance venues.

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Place Ville Marie
Photo courtesy of The food court. Photo courtesy of Ville Place Marie.

A city within a city, Place Ville Marie is a large shopping complex in central Montreal.The lights you see sweeping across the night skies come from the rotating beacon on its rooftop. The center allows visitors direct access to key subway stations, the South Shore bus terminal, and the Windsor and Central train stations. Two major hotels are also linked to Galerie Place Ville Marie: the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth and the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure. Comprising an underground shopping plaza,it's known locally at PVM. You'll find over 80 upscale boutiques and stores offering ready-wear-collections and high-end products as well as a food court and several good restaurants. A clever cruciform structure designed by the Sino-American architect, Ieoh Ming Pei allows natural light into the center of the building giving the plaza a light and airy feel complimented by notable pieces of public art.

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Meet 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,...  More About Sherel

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